Marlon Blackwell uses ribbed ceiling to evoke craft while mitigating contemporary challenges at Arkansas museum.
The setting for the gift shop at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art seems idyllic—a vast glass wall opens onto a entry courtyard that gives way to a placid pond reflecting the Ozarks landscape. But to create a design for the 3,100 square-foot space in Bentonville, Arkansas, architect Marlon Blackwell had to overcome multiple hurdles. The first: a thicket of concrete columns supporting the green roof of the Moshe Safdie-designed building. Next: the west-facing glass wall, which made heat gain an issue. And finally: the very small budget (the total project cost was $644,000).
Ever since Michael Thonet established Gebrüder in 1819, the brand has been at the forefront of mass producing the now iconic bentwood and tubular steel furniture by designers from the Bauhaus era as well as contemporary designers and architects, as well as Thonet himself, of course. Gebrüder is not only one of the oldest modern design brands and manufacturers, it’s also one of the few that are still family owned and managed. The 5th generation of Thonet’s (Michael’s great-great-grandchildren) currently run the company in Germany, but a few days ago they announced their new partnership with M2L to distribute classics like Mart Stam’s chrome-plated cantilevered chair and the Vienna coffee house chair that started it all to the US market.