Studio

Interview with M–L–XL Studio about the design of Endless Book Club at Tate Modern

Photographs by Adrian Samson for Self Publish, Be Happy

We commissioned the design studio M–L–XL to build a space for Endless Bookclub – a socially diverse forum for the exchange of ideas about art books at Tate Modern in May 2017.

We asked M–L–XL some questions about the space.

What was the main source of inspiration and the concept for Endless Book Club?

The project was inspired by London. If you walk around the city, you can’t help but see hundreds of brick buildings. The whole city is wrapped in brick. At the same time, the brick stands in as a metaphor for home – an intimate and familiar space where people can share their interests and experiences with others.

Why did you choose to work with bricks?

We were fascinated by the idea of using something that was ready-made. We wanted to focus our attention on the composition rather than the construction of elements since we had a limited time to build the structure. The project was quite challenging: we were given the task of building a small arena that could hold up to 36 people in only 8 hours. From these constraints, thanks to the help of our friend and engineer Alessandro De Mitri, the idea of “Heavy Formal Exercise” was born. It was an exercise based on the idea of using brick as construction elements to build 12 benches. We chose 12 different brick typologies, each of which determined the final design of the bench.

Was there a message/reference you wanted to portray to the audience through the space?

For us, the bricks kind of represent family in a metaphorical way, a nucleus where two or more elements form something bigger when joined together. Equally, bricks support each other – “United We Stand Divided We Fall” – there’s kind of a broader message of unity and familiarity within the use of brick.

Bricks are one of the city’s basic structural components and the layout very much remind us of structuralism with an urban/industrial identity, was that intentional?

Surely the forms we obtained visually reference elementary construction forms tied to an urban environment. The difference stands in the fact that, in this case, the bricks are celebrated as a symbol of some form of camaraderie and not a simple construction element. The absence of cement and the possibility of seeing it from the sides (from which you can understand that the result is a sort of extrusion) somewhat cancels the monotone pattern effect that you can design in a wall, giving another perspective to the viewer.

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