Inside, Outside and all the Spaces In Between | Mingei International Museum

“Our interest lies in the creations of dynamic, site-specific environments, both inside and outside, with preferably, a link between the two. To us, interdisciplinary collaboration and clear communication are key. We want to contribute to a larger whole.”

In 1991, Dutch multidisciplinary designer, Petra Blaisse, founded the Amsterdam-based studio Inside Outside, named for its focus on projects addressing both interior and exterior spaces. Over the last 30 years, Blaisse and her team have specialized in textile, exhibition, and landscape design, and interior architecture. Inside Outside works internationally on projects of increasing technical sophistication, ambition, and scale. Blaisse’s work and creativity can be found across a broad range of institutions, such as Casa da Música in Porto, Portugal, the Harvard Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Mingei International Museum.

For the Museum’s transformation, Blaisse created a custom, large-scale curtain for the 120-seat Theater. This former loading dock turned theater space features cool gray board-formed concrete walls and natural oak plank floors, while the entire south wall frames a 40-foot glass door that opens to an outdoor amphitheater. It’s here that Blaisse’s curtain lives as a beautiful work of art and a highly functional element, allowing for flexibility in acoustics, light, and aesthetics within the Theater.

While visiting San Diego and Argentina, Blaisse fell in love with the jacaranda trees, which later became the inspiration for the Theater curtain, titled Sessions. Her design process included a detailed study of the jacaranda and many drawings, renderings, paper cutouts, and mockups. Ultimately, an abstracted combination of leaves, flowers, and colors emerged. Made of double-sided dyed felt cutouts arranged in a non-uniform pattern, the curtain evokes the lattice pattern of a jacaranda's canopy. The curtain is hand-cut and fastened at each corner of the grid with a button, then backed with an additional layer of sheer silk organza. When the curtain is being used to its full potential, it covers the entire east wall of the Theater providing a stunning backdrop for performances. Its tones of ink blue, Yves Klein blue, and light gray are a nod to the jacaranda flower’s purple hue.

Every element of the Museum’s transformation project is rooted in collaboration and the Mingei ethos of celebrating beauty in handmade objects of daily use. This commissioned work brings together the combined vision of artist Petra Blaisse and architect Jennifer Luce's translation of function and beauty that is core to Mingei’s mission. It is a cherished addition to the Museum’s functional artworks and one of many memorable discoveries throughout the Museum.

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