This past Monday night, I attended a Lecture at my alma mata of Tulane University, given by Giuseppe Lignano and Ada Tolla of the New York based firm, LOT-EK. For those who aren’t familiar with LOT-EK, their work focuses on the reuse of prefabricated industrial components. With projects such as “Container Mall,” and the “Mobile Dwelling Unit, (MDU)” they are perhaps best known for their use of shipping containers, but they have also utilized cement mixers, airplane fuselages, oil tanks, and water towers.
The lecture itself was quite good. Short and entertaining. Giuseppe quickly flashed images of what inspired the duo – everything from electrical wires to pot holes to decaying brick buildings – while listing, alphabetically, in a robot-like monotone, the abstract ideas they associated with each image. Ms. Tolla would then describe the projects and the design process in her charming Transylvanian-like accent, while complementing her oratory with an array of dazzling animations and images.
What did I think? Well…they apparently really love just hanging out and watching t.v. No less than three of the presented projects were variations on media modules. Small, comfortable spaces wired with multiple televisions, computers, video games, speakers, and digitial projections. These became somewhat repetetive, as no new ideas were introduced, and the descriptions seemed to be along the lines of “…and then we put all that stuff in a cement mixer…then in an oil tanker…”
The large scale projects are undeniably impressive, but again, repetition dulled their impact. The Container Mall, the MDU city, and the Gorree Memorial are all insightful, beautiful proposals, but they could almost be the same project with a different label. I think using industrial components is an amazing idea, but at some point, the idea started began to seem less practical and more gimmicky.
Despite my distaste for the similarity among their work, I can respect that Giuseppe and Ada genuinely seem to be having fun with what they’re doing. I don’t think they’re trying to create a recognizable “LOT-EK brand,” but rather this is what they’re interested in and what they want to keep exploring. All the questions were answered with smiles, and an almost child-like excitement. Their attitude was inspiring.