Important Design /18 May 2008


Peter Pearce

Curved Space System
USA, c. 1980
Lexan polycarbonate plastic, aluminum
160 w × 128 d × 120 h in (406 × 325 × 305 cm)

Pearce’s design approach is grounded in a rigorous conceptual understanding of man’s relationship with built environments. In his studies as a Graham Foundation fellow from 1965-1966 and printed in his now-influential book Structure in Nature is a Strategy for Design, Pearce articulates a plan for successful constructed environments. Two somewhat opposing notions are required: flexibility and adaptation, and conservation and economy.For Pearce, the answer is a minimum inventory/maximum diversity system. As he elaborates, "By such a 'system' I mean a minimized inventory of component types (a kit of parts) along with rubrics whereby the components may be combined. In the best systems the rubrics lead not to constriction, but to a maximum of different, though generically related, structural forms." When successful, these modular systems--coined Min-a-Max by Pearce--are efficient in their utilization of standardized elements with limitless possibilities.Finding analogies in nature, Pearce looks to examples of organic designs such as snowflakes and crystals. The Curved Space System offered here is a scale model of a diamond molecule at eight billion times the natural size. The elaborate seven-cell structure is composed of five components: flat, open and saddle hexagons, saddle pentagons and open squares. The sculpture is an application of Pearce’s Min-a-Max theory and illustrates, on a personal scale, the possibilities of his spatial vocabulary.

estimate: $20,000–30,000

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