Vito Acconci Named Designer of the Year (Photos)

Courtesy Acconci Studio (4)

Courtesy Acconci Studio (4)

Vito Acconci, Performance-art Pioneer, Is Named Designer of the Year

For almost 25 years, New York artist Vito Acconci has run one of the most innovative design studios around, laboring to rewrite our ideas about buildings and function. But despite that quarter century of work, Acconci remains better known for the radical, body-torturing performance art he pioneered in the 1970s. Maybe today’s announcement that he’s been named Designer of the Year will help rebalance his reputation. Read about Acconci and his design award on The Daily Beast, and click through this Web gallery for a sampling of his design projects.

Blake Gopnik

Courtesy Acconci Studio

Wav A Wall, West 8th Subway Station, New York (2006)

For this Brooklyn subway stop, the undulating walls and seating designed by Acconci evoke both the waters of the nearby New York Aquarium and the roller-coasters of Coney Island, which you get to from this stop.

Courtesy Acconci Studio

Mur Island, Graz, Austria (2003)

For years, the Mur river, in Graz, Austria, was too polluted to enjoy. After the river's cleanup at the end of last century, Vito Acconci placed an artificial island in the middle of it, with access by bridges from both shores, and an amphitheater and cafe to tempt locals over. The piece is like some kind of chambered nautilus rising out of the newly clean waters.

Courtesy Acconci Studio

Fence on the Loose, Toronto (2012)

Acconci's fence looks almost like a drawing in space that happens to provide seating and shelter. Or maybe it's more like a mess of scrap metal that's taken on some accidental function.

Vito Acconci Photography by Richard Kern

Vito Acconci

Acconci's face is well known to afficionados of radical art, thanks to documentation of the performances he staged in the 1970s. Now that he's been named Design Miami's Designer of the Year, his work with functional objects may finally get more attention.

Courtesy Acconci Studio

Lobby For The Time Being, New York (2010)

In a lobby of the Bronx Museum, Acconci Studio takes Corian, the deluxe kitchen-counter material, and treats it like paper you can cut and stretch to make doilies.  Acconci's dividing wall also functions as a projection screen.

Courtesy Acconci Studio

Prototypes for Sound Shells (2006)

Acconci sees buildings cloaking our bodies the way skin clothes our flesh. Many of his works try to do away with distinctions between body and building, clothing and functional object.

Courtesy Acconci Studio

Waterfall, Newton Creek, Brooklyn (2010)

A water feature at the Newton Creak Wastewater Treatment Plant, designed by Acconci. He describes how "a waterfall flowing down outside meets a waterfall flowing down inside; at a bulge and recess in the glass wall, a walkway through the water inside meets a walkway through the water outside; from outside you sit inside the building while from inside you sit outside — inside you sit next to a person outside, and vice versa."