Brick Carlton

I was honored to be commissioned to build Ettore Sottsass’ iconic work, the Carlton, out of LEGO bricks for the Moss Gallery’s holiday window display.
Murray Moss, of Moss Gallery, writes as follows:

“Winter, 2010-11 being the 30th anniversary of the birth of the design revolution begun in Milan, Italy called Memphis, and 2 years or so into the worst national economic disaster since the Great Depression, I recently turned (once again!) to Barbara Radice’s 1984 book Memphis, subtitled Research, Experiences, Result, Failures and Successes of New Design, for comfort and, longingly, inspiration.

In her words, and in those of Memphis founder Ettore Sottsass, I found both.
So, for our Holiday window, I decided to create a kind of ‘souvenir’ of this knife’s-edge moment, a spiritual/metaphorical artefact – a personal photograph of sorts, like the kind one takes of loved ones or friends when travelling to remember certain key moments (happy or sad or both) – not with the idea of ‘freezing’ the moment for nostalgia (i.e. not a kind of British Coronation Day coffee mug), but, rather, creating something tangible to function in the future as a kind of trigger, lest we lose all perspective by forgetting what happened 30 years ago this winter, or during those past 30 years leading up to now, or, in particular, during the last 2 years, when things were in general rather bleak and at times even perilous.

So this Fall, with the invaluable collaboration of Daniel Basiletti, Moss Product Manager, I commissioned renowned LEGO® artist Nathan Sawaya to build Sottsass’s iconic Memphis work, Carlton, using the modular building blocks created in 1949 by Ole Kirk Christiansen to inspire and enable children to erect the structures, terrains, robots, vehicles, etc. etc. etc. that exist in their imaginations, without needing ‘adult’ assistance – engineers, various contractors in a multiplicity of trades, financial partners, willing clients, etc. etc. etc.

Providing exact measurements and angles we took from an actual Carlton, we asked Sawaya to re-build Carlton using random-colored LEGO®. Using these children’s toy building units, and encouraging the artist to select randomly, almost carelessly, the colors as he went along, building brick by brick, I wanted to commemorate the fact that Carlton – or rather Memphis, itself – was inevitable – that it was a visceral response which was the result more of Human Destiny, perhaps built into our DNA, than an aesthetic or theoretical or academic artist’s ‘reaction’. In my mind, Memphis remains blurred with the opening scene from Kubrick’s film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, where our ancestors, the Apes, reach a moment in time when they simply must discover tools.

Carlton was created, to me, through Destiny, and will continue to be re-built by our children and by our children’s children, forever, as the need arises. The LEGO® Carlton we display for this Holiday we hope is seen as a joyous celebration of our humanity, our imagination, our evolution, our tenacity, our better instincts.”

-Murray Moss, November, 2010