An “outdoor living room” created with borrowed, standard-issue items from Venice, commissioned by the 13th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale


Commissioned by Cathy Lang Ho, Curator of Spontaneous Interventions

Venice Biennale

Venice, Italy

Project Team: 

Tobias Armborst, Daniel D’Oca, Georgeen Theodore, Rebecca Beyer Winik, Giulia Cugnasca, Alberto Gonalez Ruiz

Commonplace is an installation created for the US Pavilion at the 2012 Venice Biennale. To build Commonplace, we borrowed standard-issue items from Venice–like the temporary, elevated sidewalks called “passerelle” that Venetians use to navigate Venice during aqua alta–and recombined them to transform the Pavilion’s courtyard into an “outdoor living room.” The installation is a simple, accessible space of interaction conceived to serve as a quiet background to the colorful installations and programs of “Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good.” Once Commonplace is deinstalled in the fall, its components will be put back in circulation in the city.

The custom made stools--produced by an Italian boat manufacturer--were engineered to be soft enough for comfortable seating, sturdy enough to provide a safe walking surface, and light enough to be easily carried around by children. They were designed to evoke both luxurious furniture and playground equipment.

A standard-issue passerelle support

Diagram of Commonplace in the courtyard of the U.S. Pavilion showing the stools and passerelle in use in Venice after the Biennale.

Fictitious postcards of Commonplace’s components in use after the end of the Biennale in Venice: Paserelle deployed in piazza San Marco (middle) and stools used by one of the Venetian pre-schools that regularly use the city’s piazze as their temporary schoolyards (bottom).