sunglass pop-up shop; New York, NY

This strategy for a pop-up party for sunglass fashion brand Linda Farrow includes giant, freestanding piñatas that are shaped to suggest zoomorphic characters. The peculiar objects offer sunglasses to curious onlookers as well as keep partygoers/shoppers company as they browse. All the while, Ersela, Alec, Roy and Tilda (the piñatas have names!) will playfully torment visitors with the nagging question of what's inside their piñata bellies. After the tension has built to a climax and all the sunglasses have been sold, there will be a momentous celebration. It will include a ceremonial bursting of the piñatas and their secrets will be revealed to the world.

Ersela and friends each come from a faraway mythical land, described in fairy tales scrawled on the walls of repurposed shipping containers. The stories are themed around sunglass culture, including issues of camouflage, fashion, and protection. Their forms are derived from traditional Tangram children's puzzles. Here, the Tangrams are used three-dimensionally to generate forms and patterns that conjure various characters. Each one is filled with surprises that bring their background narratives to life. They are modern, fashionable Trojan party animals!

Architecturally, the project explores the concept of character. It offers an affective theory of design that embraces light and shadow, materiality, ornament, promenade, etc., without resorting to an anti-intellectual claim for the absolute reality of buildings. Character produces new realities and communicates with new audiences through narrative, metaphor and myth. To this end, the piñatas are open-ended and participatory spectacles that people can rally around. They are dreams on display. As part architecture, part building, and part persona, they generate an awareness of the citizen's role in the creation of community. Spectators are brought together in a seemingly endless and pleasurably indeterminate creative process to render the world wondrous, full of mystery and surprise.

Project Team: Joseph Altshuler, Stewart Hicks, and Allison Newmeyer // © Design With Company and CARTOGRAM 2014.