Frieze Art Fair is one of the largest in the world, showcasing more than 200 top galleries this year. The organizers approached us in 2012 to craft its inaugural New York City presence. We developed an iconic yet flexible design for the fair, an annual event that draws international audiences to Randall’s Island. Originally intended for a single occasion, the design was so well received by the organizers and the public that it has been used again each year.
The design is a case study in innovative approaches to project constraints. The project required a quick turnaround for concept development and construction within a tight budget. These constraints are integral to the final design. Working with the limited vocabulary of a pre-fabricated rental structure provoked inventiveness in design. To address the fair’s high density of content, the design introduces variety through a series of angled voids along the 1,500-foot structure. The wedges make room for visitor amenities while bending the otherwise straight tent into a meandering, supple shape.
Set on Randall’s Island Park, the week-long event is an experiment in ephemeral placemaking: a flexible and open space for contemporary art in a natural context. The winding form of the tent echoes that of the shoreline, re-establishing a connection to the landscape. Its curves create a sculpture garden at one point, and wrap behind foliage to make way for a deck and food trucks at another. The lightweight tent fabric aids in creating a diffused light ideal for the display of art. The modularity of the tent allows the fair organizers to quickly assemble and reconfigure the space year after year.
Frieze Art Fair
New York, USA
Exhibition spaces, event space, cafes
21.000 m² / 225,000 sf
Completed 2012 and 2013
Florian Idenburg, Jing Liu, Ilias Papageorgiou, Iannis Kandyliaris, Andre Herrero, Thilde Bjørkskov
Photography: Iwan Baan
Video: Nikos Katsaounis