L.A. Designer: Florencia Pita, Finding Delight in Materials and Color

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An instillation dedicated to Florencia Pita’s work opens this week at the SCI-Arc Library. Though you won’t see any buildings on display, the table and objects on view reflect her colorful approach to architecture.

Florencia Pita is an L.A. based architect and professor at experimental architecture school SCI-arc. This Thursday, an installation of her work opens at SCI-Arc Library. The exhibition is called Florencia Pita/FPmod: UMMA Table & Object (UMMA refers to its first run at the University of Michigan Museum of Art) and though you won’t see any buildings on display, Pita says the table explores ideas about materials and fabrication that draw on her architectural training. She also designed a line of silver rings that go along with the exhibit. They were fabricated in Argentina and are for sale upon request.

DnA wanted to know more about the ideas behind her work and why she is so bold with color when many architects PITA_PHOTO2shy away from it.

DnA: As a professor at SCI-Arc, what architectural ideas lie behind your work? Do you see yourself as an architect or an artist?

FP: I consider myself an architect. I get that question very often. I studied architecture in Argentina, and I went to grad school in Columbia in New York. In grad school I was very influenced by new technology for design and fabrication. After I finished my masters degree I worked for five years with Greg Lynn in Los Angeles and he influenced a lot of my work in design.

DnA: What is the focus of your exhibition that opens this week?

FP: The exhibition is not about a single object, but it’s about collection of objects. My work shows design proposals in a range of scales. It goes from product design to installation pieces to architectural elements such as the ceramic tiles in the table.

DnA: What does it aim to show? Is it a demonstration of ideas?

The thesis behind the work has to do with things like color in architecture, using elaborate forms and voluptuous structures and using more contemporary forms of fabrication.

All of the items in the installation have been run through a process of digital fabrication. The tiles have been printed digitally, the table was digitally cut. All of the work was developed, designed and fabricated through the computer. All of the work tries to display the possibilities of advanced design with computers and the smooth transition from the machine to the real world.

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A very important part of the work is unifying the means of production with means of design and to think about how to advance the ideas of design and production in the field of architecture.

DnA: Did growing up in Argentina influence your work?

A lot of my influence came from moving to the United States. A lot of the influences on my work had to do with my postgraduate education. I think the architectural education in Argentina is very conservative.

Fileteado. Fileteado (left) is a very ornate type of graffiti art. It has a similar cultural significance to graffiti, but it’s a very particular one. It really sprung from popular culture– public transportation buses used to all have this type of ornamentation. It was fantastic that you would see an ordinary bus with that kind of decoration.

DnA: You use lots of vivid colors in your work, something a lot of architects steer clear of, could you explain why you use so much color in your work?

Color can be a type of materiality.

The table is made out of wood, but it’s all painted in acrylic, so you don’t see the wood. The idea is that traditional materials can be challenged, and color gives you rich materiality.

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If you look at all of the projects, there’s color in every single project. For me what’s interesting about color, is how architecture can learn about pop culture. If you look at everyday objects and things– clothes, fashion and even a simple tooth brush is very colorful. There is a lot of vibrant color in everyday objects and sometimes you don’t see that in the architectural realm. And that’s why I’m interested in applying hypergraphics on ceramic tiles, I like applying very contemporary design using traditional materials. People are used to looking at colorful things, but they are not used to looking at colorful buildings.

Color is also more playful. There’s a lack of seriousness that I embrace in my work. I’m interested in the form, the color, the pattern.

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Florencia Pita and Jackilin Bloom were Finalists in PS1 YAP at MoMA PS1 design competition.