Coincidentally a Crystal

In our office there resides a tiny iceberg, mountainous in its sheer visual force. Placed adjacent to a wide window, this curious receptacle marinates in a natural light always near at hand, composing a chiaroscuro dance within. Its crystal-like skeleton appears to capture a substance extracted from an ocean that has long frozen over, eternalized at the very moment a bright cerulean emulsified with midnight’s ultramarine. Pristine currents of light every so often spill over; and the shadow cast by the iceberg becomes the shoreline to a hidden, coral lagoon. The frozen, dense body carries an affinity with the infinite, and still it seems as if it might shatter at any moment.

For a piece that masterfully manipulates light, weight, texture, time and atmosphere, its origin begs of a Creator who envisioned its ingenuity. But this unrefined object does not follow the common trajectory of a something created out of nothing. Its coming-into-being is not easily backtracked to a thought-through concept, an intention. If the act of design relies upon a conscious effort to craft, alter or innovate a form, this object can instead be classified as being bred by the coincidental.

Although this glass crystal was cultivated in the ovens of glass blowing factories in the UK, its genesis began at the moment it was found. At the time, local glass blowing factories and manufacturers renewed their ovens every decade, due to the build-up of molten glass along the side. Over time, the crusts of glass thickened into structures of their own. Outwitting the fine-tuned efforts of human innovation, these by-products of predictable artificiality brewed riches deemed as residues. It merely required a shift in perspective to give the accidentally found an object-status of its own.

Petra Blaisse

Petra Blaisse, Inside Outside’s lead designer, is experienced in a multitude of creative areas, including interior design, landscape architecture, exhibition and textile design. Blaisse has branched out from a broad background in artistic craft and the applied arts. In 1978, she went on to work for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam at the department of Applied Arts.

From 1986 onwards, Blaisse worked as a freelance exhibition designer. In realizing a series of award-winning installations and exhibitions with OMA, Blaisse acquired an extensive knowledge on the use of light, composition, colour, materials and acoustics to create environments that would impact her later work. She first gained international acclaim for her use of textiles and finishes in interior spaces. Her practice in the field of landscape design was strengthened through working on a broad range of projects from private gardens to landscape masterplans.

In 1991 she founded Inside Outside. The studio specializes in the offhand combination of interior and exterior design, interweaving architecture and landscape and transcending the borders in-between. She leads projects globally of increasing technical sophistication, ambition and scale. Working in close collaboration with teams of renowned architects, botanists and gardeners, engineers, artists, and textile manufacturers worldwide. Blaisse’s control of space and place-making puts her at the forefront. Italy, Lebanon, Taiwan, Germany, the United States and Switzerland are some of the recent contexts in which she has realized her characteristic outside, inside and inbetween environments.

Blaisse has lectured extensively in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Over the years, she has been a guest lecturer for the University of Tokyo, UCLA, Harvard University, Technical University in Delft, Cornell University, ARCAM, TedXTilburg, and many other prestigious platforms and universities.