Architectural Centerpieces (Florals Are So Last Year)

At a recent donor dinner at the Skirball, these sculptural centerpieces showcased beautiful photographs of our campus, designed by Moshe Safdie. You can also spot one of the vivid green metal art panels off the Taper Courtyard, created by Vera Ronnen.

At a recent donor dinner at the Skirball, these sculptural centerpieces showcased beautiful photographs of our campus, designed by Moshe Safdie. You can also spot one of the vivid green metal art panels off the Taper Courtyard, created by Vera Ronnen.

A common feature of Moshe Safdie’s projects is his integration of open-air spaces into his very monumental concrete and granite buildings. [In this ArtInfo interview, Safdie explains how the landscape influenced his design for the Skirball campus.] Here at the Skirball, Safdie created a series of courtyards that harmoniously link each building so that as you work your way from Winnick Hall (home to Noah’s Ark at the Skirball™) at the south end of our site toward Ahmanson Hall and Herscher Hall at the north end, you encounter blue skies and lush landscapes. As the Skirball’s founder, Uri D. Herscher, has said, Safdie “married his architecture to the hills.” The natural is as important as the architectural in creating the open, welcoming environment we have at the Skirball.

Recently the Skirball hosted an evening gala for our founding donors to celebrate the completion of our campus. The sculptural centerpieces we produced for the event are a love letter to the Skirball’s architecture. We worked with designer Gabe Gonzales at Astek Wallcovering—the firm that created the whimsical wallpaper for our recent exhibition Gary Baseman: The Door Is Always Open—to develop the build of the sculpture. Essentially each centerpiece features thirty-four interlocking round disks. Twenty-six of them display a different image on each side. Depending on how you look at the double-sided disks, you can see four different sets of images. Here are the other three views of the centerpiece:

I really wanted to show the different textures that make up the Skirball: lots of open sky, trees, the Tadoussac stone of our buildings, even jacarandas and butterflies.

I really wanted to show the different textures that make up the Skirball: lots of open sky, trees, the Tadoussac stone of our buildings, even jacarandas and butterflies.

I was happy with the way this side’s layout shows the repetition of curvilinear forms (of the Guerin Pavilion arched ceiling and the amphitheater steps, for example).

I was happy with the way this side’s layout shows the repetition of curvilinear forms (of the Guerin Pavilion arched ceiling and the amphitheater steps, for example).

What I enjoy about this side is how the perspective on this set of images pulls you into the sculpture. Safdie’s strong lines and tartan grids make the effect that much stronger.

What I enjoy about this side is how the perspective on this set of images pulls you into the sculpture. Safdie’s strong lines and tartan grids make the effect that much stronger.

In working on the layout designs, I found that it was vital that each set of images show imagery of both built spaces and greenery. In that way, the centerpieces are in keeping with Safdie’s vision for our campus.  We also incorporated photographs of some of the key objects in our core exhibition, Visions and Values: Jewish Life from Antiquity to America, like Manfred Anson’s Statue of Liberty Hanukkah Lamp.

Skirball architectural cetnerpieces

Here they are—in action on the night of the event!

Most centerpieces find their way into the trash bins after a party, but I am happy to report that these lovely art pieces will live on! You might just catch sight of one at a future Skirball event.

2 thoughts on “Architectural Centerpieces (Florals Are So Last Year)

  1. Hello Sarah,
    The Architectual centerpieces are beautiful, clever and totally unexpected!… I love them!
    I would love to make something like this on a smaller scale, as a service project for grades 6th -8th do you have the directions written somewhere on line? Great work!
    ~Demetria

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