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bklyn designs 2010: part 2

by Grace Bonney

yesterday i shared some of my favorite pieces from this year’s bklyn designs and now i’m diving back into my photos for part 2. in this post i’ll be focusing on some great new wallpaper designs, a light-up floor, some gorgeous wooden furniture, and a frame design that turns artwork into an ant-farm. yep, an ant-farm. i’m prtty torn on that one so feel free to join in the conversation after the jump!

[images: ant farm picture frames from framicarium. read on after the jump for more info…]

CLICK HERE for the rest of the post and more bklyn designs after the jump!

hugh hayden and katie vitale joined forces a this year’s bklyn designs to launch a project called “FRAMEicarium”- a play on the idea of ant farms (formicarium) and antique frames. the frames have sand in them where ants can tunnel and create patterns against colored plexi or an actual painting. my initial thought was “WOAH. COOL”. but then amy brought up a good point about “what happens when they die?” ant farms can’t keep living and reproducing without a queen (which is illegal to ship over state lines) so the ants will die every 4 months and you’ll need to dump out all the sand and install new ants (unless you want to leave the bodies in and preserve the tunnel pattern on its own). i think it’s an interesting idea, but i’m a little uneasy with the idea of using living things as decoration. this came up when i posted the fishpods a few years back and i’ve never forgotten the points people made about fish living in a small pod as decoration. so i’m torn: good idea with the possibility of being altered to work well? or an area that design should leave alone?

beautiful new wallpapers and polar-bear inspired ceramics from shannon at eskayel. a portion of the profits from the polar-bear themed pieces will go to support polar bear preservation causes.

i had to resist the urge to jump on these like tom hanks in “big”. light-up floor and wall tiles from madbutter illumination systems. when you touch then they light up and the colors spread. beautiful.

city joinery debuted a beautiful table and bench system that was designed to let people lean up against the end of the bench seat with their feet up on the bench. the swivel bookcase can be used as a room divider as well as a shelf, and was inspired by a vintage italian design.

it was so fun to see katie from grow house grow‘s new collection of wallpapers in person. i love the theme of “women in science” and thought the orange style was particularly striking in real life.

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  • It is an cool idea, but I do kind of feel bad for the ants. I had an ant farm a few years ago, but freed them after a week….They were smart and knew where the opening was, so they tried to build up the sand mound to escape. They were really neat to watch though…

  • Was scrolling thru your post in my Google reader, and right after your pic of the ant farm was an ad for Terminix. Yikes!!

  • Good question raised about the ant farm frames. I remember being fascinated when I read about the artist Yukinori Yanagi a couple years ago who worked with ants that shoveled through his sand sculptures of national flags…really fascinating work….I wonder if he had a queen in his pieces. Seems that the ants would need one in order to transform the pieces the way they did…

    Thanks for the thoughtful post!

  • I had the exact same reaction to the ants as well. From a distance it was, “Hmm what is this? Sand mixed with classical paintings? Weird.” Then close up, “WHOA. There’s ants in there! AWESOME.” I immediately drag my boyfriend over since we both love observing ants in their natural settings. It’s like peering into a secret society. But then I started realizing there were so many dead ones, and I kind of got turned off by the idea. I think I even said out loud “I don’t know how I feel about this anymore. I’m conflicted.” I’m still conflicted. If I had to choose I’d probably not support this idea. It seems wasteful to have to just throw out the ants once they’re deceased only to refill the frame back up again and have it start all over. What’s the point? Just to watch ants die? I appreciate the aesthetic it creates, but it’s so transient. I don’t know if it’s worth it. Difficult, difficult…if anything this has definitely started a great conversation and in that respect has succeeded as a great piece of art. Isn’t that what art is all about? Invoking and provoking thoughts and communication. So props to them for that, but the dead ants, not so much.

  • I fantasised for months about making my kitchen backsplash an ant farm (re-using double-glazed glass panels?) then chickened out – what if they escaped? or took over?!

  • I totally agree with you…it’s an awesome idea but I don’t think any living thing should be used as art unless it’s also going to be properly taken care of.

    That bookcase is amazing though. I have a thing for interesting bookcases and I am in love with this one. The idea of being able to put your feet up is neat too.

  • I love the ant farm art… I’ve actually been wanting to make something like this for the past few years, but never got around to making it happen! I also love bugs, so having them hanging on my wall as art doesn’t bother me, but ant farms always have the problem of what to do after they all die.

  • I LOVE the ant farm idea, I’m with Tina however about the dead ant thing…can we have the farm sans dead ants? What is involved in ant farming and how could we keep them from dying little ant deaths? I know, lots of questions, but I want one for my office…so I can see them busy at work while I am busy at work.

  • “dead ant, dead ant, dead ant dead ant dead ant dead ant dead aaaaant…”

    Now I have the Pink Panther theme stuck in my head.

  • If you use the ants that will take over your kitchen this summer then it’s kind of like recycling…

  • SusanO! Now I have the theme stuck in my head! I have never thought to sing it that way – makes sense especially with the ant eating aardvark… my 5 yr old who loves the movies is going to love singing it!
    I am not sure what all the worry about ants are. This is an artistic take on ant farms that kids have been making forever – are you going to judge them, or me for successfully getting rid of ants in my kitchen so this year!

  • But if ants die anyway, as they do, isn’t it interesting to leave behind the pattern and the evidence of their existence? Why does it then need to be recycled and redone? I think it’s a really interesting commentary on what art is to humans… just patterns and transient trails we leave behind us.

    I often have surreal moments where I am inside a crowd and I stop and look around, noticing the patterns of how people gather at certain points, form lines, follow each other around. Just like ants.

    I think it’s a lovely idea, overall.