Of course, when Mustonen and his former classmate Arsham (they were both studying at the Cooper Union in New York City ‘where there was this tradition of making, and respect for being able to realise an idea and for the craft behind the thing that you’re making’) decided 10 years ago to found a common practice that would work between art and architecture, they were looking for a playful name; one that rhymed with architecture. Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland, was their inspiration: ‘His children’s poem, The Hunting of the Snark, describes the impossible journey of an improbable crew of misfits to find an inconceivable creature: the Snark. The crew doesn’t know what the Snark looks like, they don’t know how to find it, and they’re using a blank ocean chart only showing the ocean to navigate their journey, so they don’t even know where they’re going...An absurd story, with a bit of a serious undertone. The name Snarkitecture is playful and it sounds like architecture, but it isn’t architecture. We’re constantly looking towards existing structures, materials, problems distinct in architecture that surrounds us every day, and finding ways to combine those and reimagine them to create things new and imaginative. We enjoy working with the idea of every day, and to transform it into something indefinite.’
In terms of favourite projects, there is an apt diversity of Mustonen’s response, and one that seems experiential-based: ‘Our Drift pavilion at Design Miami 2012 - at the time our largest project. It was also the first project that put us in front of this global art and design audience.’ Using tent material to create a facade with what looked like huge inflatable sausages, Drift encapsulated Snarkitecture’s idea of taking something familiar and transforming it into something extraordinary and unexpected. ‘We constructed a kind of strange landscape in vinyl that became an active gathering place. People inhabited that space in a really beautiful way,’ explains Mustonen.
It’s clear that embarking on its next decade of existence, Snarkitecture still possesses the fire in the belly of its first beginnings. Recent and future developments will shape the Brooklyn-based practice: the team recently welcomed Benjamin Porto as its third partner (a licensed architect holding a Master of Architecture from Columbia University and specialised in high-end residential, hospitality and tower design); in spring 2018, Snarkitecture will publish its first book, with Phaidon; and is also work- ing on its first museum exhibition, which will take place in the summer of 2018, and naturally invites visitors to get hands-on with the experience. Besides that, its developing an idea with Caesarstone during this year’s Salone del Mobile; a next edition of The Beach might be soon popping up in a city near you; and in February, another interior design project for streetwear brand Kith will be revealed.