Picnic Blanket 
2022
exhibited at the Eco Folly Exhibit at the Harvard Graduate School of Design September 2022

This project “develops the folly as a typological springboard for coalescing formal creativity with sustainable imperatives. Whether at the scale of the structure, garden, or machine, the folly is a playful moniker in which the useless, the mad, the extreme, the theatrical, and the daring are made to intervene in both intimate and civic spaces. With fantastical properties in mind, we use the folly opportunistically as a vehicle to foreground issues involving ecologics, sustainable innovations, and environmental processes. “

“ECO FOLLY takes a speculative approach to sustainability. Informed by research in the history of science, aesthetic philosophy, architectural technology...” etc. 1


This folly - a platform for consuming oysters and champagne while enjoying ocean sunsets - is moored to three aspects. First, the premise of the ground plane becomes an architectural object in its own right - the picnic blanket. Second, the sequential program unfolds through the accumulation of technological devices (an ardent mirror, a fuel cell, and a freshwater condenser). Third, oyster shell construction results from the cycle of consumption, reuse, and decay as shells are tossed, as they were, overboard.

The folly comes out of various points of interest, which include the apathetic act of flinging the oysters after they are consumed, the Arthur Shurcliff designed Grande Allee resembling a floating carpet, and most of all the languorous postures that one would assume in contradistinction to the serious intentions of the folly to use clean energy in a premeditated fashion.

The folly, with its anfractuous forms, hints, seduces, and imitates. The overtones of formality are met with precise informalities that generously, subtly, and sometimes a little too directly engage the contextual. Almost in a Medusoid manner, one can read the folly as a frozen gesticulation of the dune; and that is where the artifice is hidden. Although seemingly a frozen moment in the sand, the mounds and the valleys have distinguished materiality, a result of casting. which the picnicker realizes upon close examination.

Conceived as a picnic blanket that resembles a solidified dune, the folly places the history of a luxurious summer retreat into conversation with our current climate crisis. The folly provides ironic commentary on the state of ecological design by drawing on precedents as diverse as Eames’ Solar Do-Nothing Machine (1957) and Madelon Vriesendorp’s Eating Oysters with Boxing Gloves, Naked (1977).


1. text by Erika Naginski and Matthew Lopez, written as part of the exhibition foreword