RMIT Design Hub commissioned Searle x Waldron to design an exhibition environment that would respond specifically to the spaces within Design Hub, the touring exhibitions and the exhibition materials collected that trace the influence of Venturi and Scott Brown on the development of Melbourne’s architectural culture.
Suzannah Waldron and Nick Searle reflect on their design in response to key slogans and phrases used within Learning from Las Vegas.
Lessons for the typical
The design of the Las Vegas Studio exhibition takes lessons from the book. While the content of the exhibition is focused on the studio experience of studying the city – the book itself is almost not the objective – learning from the typical is. To design the exhibition we learnt from Learning from Las Vegas to reconstitute the two-dimensional photographs and films into a three dimensional qualitative and atmospheric experience.
Decoration is cheaper
The Las Vegas of the 60s was a cardboard cut-out city of maximum effects from minimal means where the $100,000 sign sat on the $10,000 stand. There were no glazed pyramids or Van Gogh’s in the foyers. The materials of the exhibition echo the ordinary and cheap vs phenomena and veneer with liberal use of scaffolding, OSB board, flickering lights, thin decorative felt and plastic veneers.
The city is a set of intertwined activities
Each gallery abstracts a Las Vegas experience with speed and scale. A linear streetscape captures the deadpan view of the strip with roadside signs dispersed sparsely on approach from the outskirts. Las Vegas electric is captured with scaled signage structures acting as both heraldic marker and informative display. Photos from the Las Vegas Studio are salon hung; compressed and distributed, gapped with time, in sequences experienced on the strip. An Oasis marks the pause in velocity where books and media consumed by the Las Vegas Studio form a collection of poolside reads on reclining lounges.
Billboards are almost alright
The studio found that in Las Vegas navigation was communicated via the ground: in the exhibition, the ground is demarcated with zones of diagonal parallel lines indicating cross-overs. The book also found that ‘if you take the signs away there is no place’. We put this observation in to practice with signs informing, directing and communicating the way around the disparate spaces of the exhibition. Revised as a sign, Surfers Paradise is reassembled on a 36m long billboard of photographs taken forty years apart. We also used signs also to obliquely query – is the Design Hub itself a decorated shed or duck?
I.M.Pei will never be happy on Route 66
Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown analysed the commercial strip with fresh eyes to radical effect. Acknowledging popular culture and social activity, they disrupted the direction of architectural discourse. They leant from the banal and special, ugly and ordinary. The exhibition charts this legacy of their ideas on Melbourne with ephemera encased, and thoughts collected and projected amongst the flashing lights on the wall.
Suzannah Waldron and Nick Searle
Searle x Waldron
Excerpt from the Learning from Las Vegas catalogue
+ Searle x Waldron