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THE CARNIVAL TABLE  

Stage-set for HelloWood Builder’s society


with Space Saloon, Collective Plant


In a contemporary society that is dangerously drifting towards alienation, mainstream architecture offers very little resistance. On one hand, massive real estate developments impose highly standardized forms governed by the logics of marketing. On the other hand, starchitects impose their superficial signature in an endless effort to be different from the competition. The actual users end up inhabiting spaces that represent very little - if nothing - of themselves. Ikea knick-knacks are the last resort to give a resemblance of identity to their homes.

Carnival was born as a temporary inversion of social conventions - can we speculate on how to invert reactionary architectural conventions? We want to use the ritual of eating and the symbolic power of a dining table - a place where people meet at the same level - in order to discard conventions and encourage a different practice of design, rooted  in conviviality and freedom. By uncovering symbolic and social constructions through food, we aim to prompt a debate rich of symbolic explanations about human behavior and rituals.

We will design and build a series of mask/tables leveraging both the coordination capacities of the group and the artistic potentials of the individuals. Each piece represents one designer in its iconographical and ergonomical configuration. Each piece will become the wearable mask of a specific character, showing their cultural references, expressing their passions and fetishisms, exploring alternative postures and choreographic movements. Students will wear their puzzle piece and join the parade in this loose array. Upon arrival to the designated festival ground, the pieces will interlock with each other to recompose a unitarian, yet multifaceted landscape. The joined pieces will constitute a broad and composite dining table for a Carnival feast: a banquet of oddities where food, design and performance are indistinguishable from each other. The configuration of the table challenges the etiquette of dining - there is no centre and perimeter, no head of the table, no proper posture, no hierarchy. The table is an archipelago of spatial expressions that are changeable and free to interpret. There are no fixed position nor fixed roles. By leaving their table/masks and crawling under the table, the dinner guests will encounter fellow diners in a maze of table legs to emerge through a new hole onto a different island, changing their aesthetic landscape, ergonomics and relative position.

The table is an ancient place of unity, cohesion, equal exchange. Around the table the man enjoyed, rejoiced, but above all he told. From Plato's Symposium to Dante's Convivio, the stories that have been handed down before a meal are those that have invented and narrated the world.

We believe that it’s time for architecture to establish a new intimacy with its users, to become more human, to create culture and foster social interaction. With our Carnival table, we want architecture to provide space for self expression instead of uniformity. We want architecture to draw people together instead of isolating them. We want architecture to be able to create stories again.