The Vancouver Art Gallery has just launched a major exhibition, Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life, and molo’s cloud softlight mobiles are hanging prominently in the main atrium of the gallery.
Commissioned by the VAG, the gallery says “[Grand Hotel] charts the evolution of the hotel from its humble origins as an isolate and utilitarian structure to a cultural phenomenon that figures prominently within the global landscape… The title of the exhibition acknowledges the formative image produced in the influential 1932 Hollywood film Grand Hotel where the lives of individuals interweave during a brief hotel stay yet remain, to some degree, compartmentalized. The film depicted a thoroughly modern condition and demonstrated the potency of the hotel as a nexus of human movement, interaction and ideas”.
Catching the eyes and minds of visitors as they enter the gallery space, the array of five cloud softlight mobiles descends around the domed atrium, mirroring the curve and elevation of the marble staircases. In the centre of the floor beneath the cloud mobiles is a black paper softseating bench that has been created by joining two seats end to end via their magnetic panels.
The softseating has been dyed a rich black with bamboo charcoal ink to match the black and white tiled floor in the atrium. molo also developed a tube reinforcement system to create and maintain the circular shape of the bench. The tube reinforcement system can be used to create a variety of specific curves, even angles, in softseating, softwall, or softblock.
The mobiles' design evolved organically from softwall + softblock, and are inspired by the mobile inventions of artist and engineer Alexander Calder. Each mobile delicately balances three cloud shades of varying diameters from an etched steel armature. Once hung, the light weight mobiles become subtly active, reacting to air currents and swaying gently.
The design of the installation at the Vancouver Art Gallery was conceived by molo’s designer/directors, Stephanie Forsythe + Todd MacAllen, who had always hoped to work with the beautiful space. The neoclassical mouldings and arched doorways of the atrium are brought to light by the mobiles. The simple, modern forms of cloud softlight draw visitors' eyes and accentuate the building’s decorative elements, which in turn create an outstanding backdrop for the clouds.