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DESIGN
Openshop Studio
by CH Contributor
on 12 November 2009

by Andi Teran

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The typical architecture firm would never tell a client, “We don’t know what we’re doing,” or describe its method as “DEEP PLAY” (yes, all caps). Openshop Studio, however, is anything but typical.

Headed by Adam Hayes and Mark Kroeckel, the nine-year-old studio is an environment where a wayward motorcycle is at home in the kitchen. Using the bike as its mascot, Openshop bills itself as “a motorcycle ride disguised as a design firm," incorporating whimsical objects, improbable materials like inflatable wood and the odd panel of pink fur into their plans.

The duo—who bear no resemblance to the time-honored image of the imperious, turtlenecked architect—are responsible for the sleekly modern transformation of multi-ethnic Manhattan restaurant Red Egg (pictured below), a minimalist reincarnation of the uptown Steven Alan store and a mini-golf hole in Brooklyn constructed out of recycled bottles that forced putters to get their feet wet. These projects and others have earned Openshop awards from I.D. Magazine, the AIA in Houston and a commission to design the museum shop within the Queens Museum of Art.

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Whether working with or without strict spatial or fiscal parameters, their approach to problem solving is often as unique as the finished structures they create, like their Hive Loft—a honeycomb like “hive” nestled within a large, open residence (pictured below).

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“One motto we have in the office is: the best idea wins,” Kroeckel explains, “We’re not interested in where or how it comes, but we’re searching for that best idea, which may not be any of the ones in front of you at that time. You may have to throw all of those out.”

The duo recently started a lecture series for those interested in forward-thinking architecture solutions based around an ethos that, “imagination has to become intelligent and self-regulating.”

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As Hayes explains, “We have to remind ourselves everyday that we have no idea what we’re doing. The moment you begin to think you know something—whether it’s a political view or you think you understand how a material acts," Kroeckel finishes, “It’s dead.”

Openshop’s current project under construction is the Artsee retail eyewear boutique in Miami (pictured above).

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