Interiors Awards 2016: Student
Designer: Dace Sūna
School: Fashion Institute of Technology
Proposed Location: Brooklyn, New York
“It is a remarkable feat to capture and illustrate so many emotions within one vision. The spaces are creative and the renderings are beautiful. This is strong work, with so much imagination and skill.”—Jury
Emphasizing frivolity, Fashion Institute of Technology graduate Dace Sūna explored folly in architecture in her senior thesis project. Sūna focused on the concept as a useful aspect of design, allowing meaning to be determined in the eyes of the beholder. Imagining an environment that celebrates the value of purposelessness, Sūna created conceptual renderings of a space that provides a refuge from the confinements and consumerist sensibilities of everyday life in New York.
“It’s a dream in the city of dreams,” Sūna says. “Every day, we are surrounded by consumerism. Escape Folly is a reaction to how we lead our lives.” Originally from Latvia, Sūna moved to New York to pursue a bachelor’s degree in interior design, and she credits the captive feeling that can dominate life in the city as the inspiration behind her thesis project. “For a New Yorker to get out of the city, you need to make a real effort,” Sūna says. “The getaway becomes another thing to do, another thing to buy. Escape Folly is accessible and free. It’s not advertised, so only New Yorkers would know about it.”
Sūna selected an abandoned grain elevator in Red Hook, Brooklyn, near the mouth of the Gowanus Canal, as the site of her proposed project. Built in 1922 and abandoned in 1965, the grain elevator is a massive structure with 54 silos. Referencing the structure’s long history along Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront, Sūna chose the “useless monster of a structure,” as she puts it, because its prominent profile is highly visible from multiple points.
From outside, a visual slice runs down the center, dividing the structure and creating a gap to enter through. Escape Folly consists of a succession of interior spaces that are punctured by 5-foot-wide silos. Fashioning a new purpose for the grain elevator, Sūna finds value in its futility. Each space within the sequence is intended to offer a retreat from the routine stressors of the city.
Once inside, the first space encountered is Pond, a room flooded by cleansing salt water dispensed from the collection of silos above. This space is designed to wash away the city’s cover of dust and allow visitors to float in the water. The exploration of Escape Folly continues with Woods, where visitors can wander; Foam, to activate their sense of touch; Pit, a place to gather; and Pillow, for sleep. Finally, the last room in the sequence is BI, a heavenlike environment that embodies the ultimate intent of the project.
Providing refuge from the everyday tensions of city life, Escape Folly narrates a series of interiors, each one embodying Sūna’s values as a designer and resident of New York. Beautifully crafted, expressive renderings depict the project’s imaginative concepts, articulating the activation of the senses that it ambitiously proposes to achieve.
Since graduating, Sūna continues to explore the design of interiors in her current pursuits, working in New York as a freelance rendering and modeling designer, assisting with exhibition and parametric sculpture installations, and fabricating lighting fixtures for the Brooklyn-based design shop Workstead. Adjusting her approach to life in the city, she says, “I’m trying to find things I love to do so I don’t feel confined and I would not feel the urge to escape. I’m still exploring and figuring out what space means to me and what approach I want to take.”