Palma Nula Studio Fake Realness Urvanity Art Fair Photo Jose Hevia Yellowtrace 01

Palma Nula Studio Fake Realness Urvanity Art Fair Photo Jose Hevia Yellowtrace 03

Palma Nula Studio Fake Realness Urvanity Art Fair Photo Jose Hevia Yellowtrace 04

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When I was in architecture school, I did a studio that looked at scarification and skin. We studied the various ways that skin, both biological and architectural, works towards doing many things. From pig skin that’s stretched for practising tattoo artists, to the skin of the earth that swelters and mounds upon tectonic pressure, there is something very interesting about how the skin of an object can dictate so much about its final form.

For Madrid’s popular Urvanity Art Fair, Mexican architects Palma paired up with Madrid-based Nula Studio to present Fake Realness. They described their installation as a “space that explores the limits of reality and material fiction”.

When I first saw the pinkish-red installation, I was reminded of my university subject which explored the concept of skin. It appears the architectural duo have taken a material — in this case, a vinyl produced by Tarkett — and built an installation on the very skin-like properties of the product.

 

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Typically used for floor and wall applications, vinyl is a material that inevitably acts as a skin, concealing whatever lies below it. But what’s fascinating about Fake Realness is how this skin-like vinyl material is glorified, forming the very bones for several unusual applications. Stretched and hung, it becomes a curtain-like wall.

Pierced and stitched together, its edges are celebrated. Suspended on red ropes and bound by red powder-coated metal strips, the vinyl panels levitate in space, completely independent of any substrate or heavy boarding typically associated with this material.

From a seating hall to the bar, the overhead sheets of vinyl create a series of dancing volumes that cleverly frame various smaller spaces within the large concrete warehouse. Embracing a neutral base of creamy white, flecks of red, grey and black, create a speckled cocktail of warmth and excitement that’s both contemporary and curious.

 

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Axo

 

 

But really, beyond celebrating the material itself, this installation tells a rather important story. The joint proposal between Palma and Nula Studio “investigates the creation of these new materials” by evaluating its “technological evolution and infinite recycling” capabilities. Below several lengths of suspended vinyl panels, a series of powdery mounds fill the exhibition floor.

Reminiscent of powder pyramids at spice markets, the cone-like features are actually piles of shredded vinyl. “The shredding is the origin of the material” share the architects, “but is also representative of its destiny. At the end of the exhibition, everything will be recycled and shredded, to become again, many times, the same vinyl”.

Nula Studio is an architecture practice that believes design can be a powerful engine for social transformation. Their experimentations lean heavily towards respecting the existing, whether that be a city, a landscape, or in this instance, a material. Partnering with the emerging Mexican firm, Palma, the two studios manage to create a unique and curious public exhibit that celebrates the infinite recycling loop made available through specific architectural products such as a seemingly simple vinyl.

 

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