Onion Pinch by Caterina Tiazzoldi and Eduardo Benamor Duarte

Onion Pinch by Caterina Tiazzoldi and Eduardo Benamor Duarte

NY/ Turin-based architect Caterina Tiazzoldi teamed up with NY/ Lisbon-based architect Eduardo Benamor Duarte to create Onion Pinch – a playful eco art installation made entirely from sustainably-sourced cork. 

Onion Pinch is a cork installation originally conceived in occasion of the Digital Primitive Event proposed as a parallel event of the Lisbon Biennial Experimental Design (initially designed as a rest area for the Cais do Sodre subway station in Lisbon during the Biennial). The swaying onion-shaped structures invited visitors to climb, lay, or rock within them. The designers wanted to construct a space affecting user’s behavior, a real place that people would recognize as such.

In order to achieve this goal, like surgeons they started to study and to dissect the material they were using for the installation: the cork. They wanted to identify a design concept and a very simple construction technique. They wanted to create an intimate relation between material properties and user’s physicality. Cork was reduced to a list of material properties and attributes that could interact with people: Texture, Granularity, Porosity, Acoustic insulation, Density, Thickness and finally the most important: Flexibility. Thanks to its flexibility, it was possible to shape the cork. They wanted to offer a dynamic shelter, an hammock, a space: the project was achieved by literally folding fifteen strips of cork to obtain an onion ring effect.  The onion rings were realized with different cork types and thicknesses. The installation was articulated in a series of internal paths in which babies could run, walk, climb, lay and rock. The tracks were articulated by the opening or closing of the profiles. Shape and profile transformations were obtained by literally pinching the cork with a bolt. When placed on the higher positions of the profile, the onion configuration would open up. Moving the bolt toward the ground made the shape close down.

In 2010 the installation was the set for a dance performance by Arke Danza, which was documented in a film directed by Caterina Tiazzoldi shown at the Architecture & Design Film Festival, and this year photographic documentation of the installation will be showcased at the RISD Biennial beginning on February 21st.


Photos: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano



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