Junichiro Tanizaki, in his book In Praise of Shadows writes, “In darkness, immutable tranquility holds sway.” Designers integrate this interplay of light, color, and shadow in the spaces they imagine — navigating the clarity that light brings alongside the ephemeral mystery of the shadows.
Inspired by this 73-page homage to “well-placed darkness,” the fourteenth biennial Virginia Design Forum: In Praise of Shadows embraces this theme through an exploration of craft and materiality. The program, which is intended to challenge and stimulate design and creative thinking, takes place on March 27–28, 2020, at the recently-opened Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Through a series of conversations, the Design Forum showcases the work of talented individuals whose shared craft extends beyond the calculated and strictly quantitative into more holistic practice — whose leading-edge preoccupation with light and shadow extends the diversity of approaches to how designers seek beauty through form, space, and materiality. Register online.
The work of the speakers embodies those essential connections.
About the Speakers
These thought leaders come from diverse cultural and professional contexts, yet their work shares the power and nuance of how architects and allied professionals shape form through light. Through engaging the continuum of dim to bright, these designers shape our experience.
Steven Holl, FAIA (Steven Holl Architects | New York, NY)
Steven Holl is widely recognized for his ability to blend space and light with great contextual sensitivity and to utilize the unique qualities of each project to create a concept-driven design. He specializes in seamlessly integrating new projects into contexts with particular cultural and historic importance.
Kirsten Murray, FAIA (Olson Kundig | Seattle, WA)
Throughout her 30-year tenure at Olson Kundig, Kirsten Murray has created buildings and spaces that strengthen and enrich communities. Long inspired by Scandinavian modernist traditions, her architecture emphasizes warmth, natural materiality, tactility and refinement. By translating the innate conditions of a site—its nature, culture, topography and history—into built form, Murray’s designs create new interpretations of place that remain relevant over time.
Herve Descottes (L’Observitoire International, New York, NY)
In 1993, Hervé Descottes co-founded the lighting design firm L’Observatoire International in New York City after eight years of design practice in Paris, France. Descottes creates the lighting concepts for all projects designed by L’Observatoire, and oversees project development through project completion. He has been recognized numerous times by the lighting design and architectural community.
Morten Schmidt, Intl. Assoc. AIA (Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects | Copenhagen, DK)
Since cofounding Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects in 1987, Morten Schmidt has developed a diverse portfolio of work and expertise in the planning and design of major libraries and cultural facilities across the globe, bringing an innovative, rational and clear design leadership to many of the practice’s highest profile projects. His work exhibits a deep commitment to the Nordic architectural traditions based on democracy, welfare, aesthetics, light, sustainability and social responsibility.
David J. Lewis, AIA (LTL Architects, New York, NY)
David Lewis is founding principal of LTL Architects, a design intensive architecture firm founded in 1997 with Paul Lewis and Marc Tsurumaki, located in New York City. LTL Architects develops solutions that work within project constraints to inform the design trajectory, exploring opportunistic overlaps between space, program, form, budget, and materials.
Introduced and moderated by:
Kendall Buster earned a BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. and an MFA in Sculpture from Yale University. Her work has been exhibited in numerous venues nationally and internationally.
The Design Forum is generously sponsored by:
About the Schedule
Friday, March 27, 2020
Opening Remarks and Keynote Address
Steven Holl, FAIA
Saturday, March 28, 2020
8:30 a.m.–4 p.m.
David Lewis, AIA
Morten Schmidt, Intl. Assoc. AIA
Kirsten Murray, FAIA
AIA/Allied Member: $185
Assoc. AIA Member: $60
Friday Keynote Only: $90
Student: $30 (students actively enrolled in a degree program are eligible)
Earn up to 8 AIA/CES learning units.