Beauty in a Burl | Mingei International Museum

"We have to work hard to both pursue beauty, but also balance it with a kind of quiet."

For the Museum's transformation, we partnered with LUCE et studio to commission artworks of both function and beauty from six women artists – including LUCE’s own founder Jennifer Luce. One of these remarkable works, an artist gallery bench, EAST|WEST is a collaborative design effort between LUCE and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects studio in Manhattan.

EAST | WEST contains references to root stools that originated in ancient Asian and African cultures. Husband and wife, Billie Tsien and Tod Williams, use a root burl embedded in the wooden bench’s sleek, wide, and long surface as both an aesthetically pleasing feature and functional handle for one resting on the bench to push themselves up from their seat. The reclaimed root burl comes from Tsien’s long-time woodworking collaborator in New Jersey. In addition to this custom gallery bench, visitors can also take a rest on two George Nakashima benches from the 1950s.

Photo Credit: Taylor Jewell

Founded in Midtown Manhattan, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects studio focuses on work for schools, museums, and non-profits—organizations and people that value ideas of aspiration and meaning, timelessness, and beauty. Billie and Tod believe that architecture is the coming together of art and use, and their recent architectural work includes prestigious buildings such as The Obama Presidential Center and Hood Museum of Art. Tsien also serves as the Chair of the Commission of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C.—the first woman to hold the position in its 111-year history.

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