YAF exhibition at the Central Library: Come for the photos, stay for the furniture

11 Nov

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I returned some library books on time last week, just to see what it was like. As if that wasn’t enough novelty, the exhibition of selected submissions from the Young Architects Forum‘s  “Envisioning Breuer” photography competition was in the first floor exhibit space. It’s been up since Oct. 14, but it runs until Nov. 28.

The Central Library is not an easy building to photograph, but there were a lot of really creative, surprising images there. Also surprising was the Room and Board furniture that’s been moved in, making the exhibition area it more of a “place” than just a space.

The presence of appealing, modern furniture in that space does a couple of things:

  • In addition to a placemaking function, the furniture suggests that the people who chose it care about the kind of experience that the people using it have at the library – not a feeling that’s conveyed in much of the rest of the building.
  • It makes the rest of the library appear even more shoddily furnished than it already does.

Of course it’s primarily there because someone at Room and Board believes that people who are interested in looking at photographs of a building might be more likely than other Central Library patrons to also be interested in (and able to buy) thier furniture. Nothing wrong with that. Between R&B’s relatively out-of-the-way location, and competition from West Elm and the new CB2 in midtown, they’re surely looking for novel ways to establish some name recognition.

Any ulterior motives aside, having at least one part of the city’s largest library look as if its appearance was given some careful consideration was a really pleasant surprise.

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