Museum of Art and Design at MDC Opens New Education Lab

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Museum of Art and Design at MDC

Freedom Tower (photo credit: Tarridas)

[MIAMI] – Museum of Art and Design (MOAD) at Miami Dade College (MDC) launches a new multipurpose Education Lab on the third floor of the College’s National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower. Adjacent to the Museum’s galleries and conceived and executed by the Miami studio AMLgMATD. The lab will host education programs for all ages, from children to adults. The Education Lab opens in late February 2022.

Project Concept

In a project several years in the making, MOAD commissioned the designers of AMLgMATD to reimagine its existing education room. Plus, make it adaptable to the variety of education programs the Museum offers. Ranging from lectures and workshops for adults and college students to hands-on artmaking activities with kids.

They created a dynamic ensemble of custom-built cabinetry, furniture, and wall and floor treatments that can be reconfigured for multiple uses. Monochrome wooden surfaces alternate with strategically deployed moments of strong and vivid color. AMLgMATD employed sustainable, healthy, and recycled materials, and invented a unique and engaging hybrid style called “Tropical Cubism.”

AMLgMATD’s design includes storage cabinets with carved patterns on their doors. In addition, shelving units that reveal colorful abstractions between shelves, worktables that can be arranged into a multitude of configurations, and boldly hued geometric floor decals that echo the optical designs wrapped around low stools. The materials used include birch plywood, MDF (medium-density fiberboard, recycled from previous MOAD exhibitions), aluminum tubing (60 percent recycled), laminated vinyl flooring, polypropylene webbing (unused old stock), and non-toxic eco-friendly coatings.

The furniture was designed and built for the room in small modules and assembled on site. The innovative design enables the room to be easily reconfigured, and the furniture to be readily disassembled and reassembled when needed. The furniture was custom fabricated by master cabinetmaker Rudi Repenning. Moonlighter FabLab provided all CNC (computer numerical control) services for custom machine cutting and routing on the project.

According to the founders of AMLgMATD, Laz Ojalde and Natalie Zlamalova, the designers’ approach to designing the space was to create “a fictional historical narrative for the room by developing a new style called Tropical Cubism. This new style is inspired by the blend of Czech Cubism/Functionalism and the fantasy of American Tropical Art Deco. The resulting look highlights the most prominent features and processes of the two influences and repurposes them in a contemporary way.”

Czech Cubism

Czech Cubism was defined by its use of sharp angles, crystalline shapes, and repetitive forms, as well as the use of avant-garde, modern materials of the time, such as aluminum and plywood, and exploration into new synthetic materials. Tropical Art Deco, a colorful take on French Art Deco and American Streamline styles, combines the bold geometric forms of Cubism and the Vienna Secession with added fanciful thematic elements.

“In the creation of this pseudo-style,” states AMLgMATD, “we deliberately chose to utilize economical material processes that were newly developed and perfected during the period of the source styles, such as plywood construction, metal tube bending, rapid fastening, and machine weaving. On top of this, we use modern-day conveniences in technology and decorative application: CNC routing, vinyl films, latex paints, and non-toxic coatings. Our goal for this room is to create a space where the past inspires the present artistically, while creating an environment that pays homage to our personal historical influences.”

Lab Redesign

The redesign of the Education Lab is made possible by support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council. In addition, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners. Plus, the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

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