Avoid Obvious Architects
175 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, USA
Founded by Vicky Chan in 2008, AOA is an unusual practice. Describing himself as an architect, entrepreneur, environmentalist, educator, futurist, and world citizen gives us a little insight into the breadth of Vicky’s thinking and in turn the work of the consultancy.
Often collaborating with other agencies, from their Hong Kong and New York offices, much of their work focuses on architecture and urban planning to deliver sustainable and happier ways to live, work and play, conceiving projects that take a holistic and futuristic view of our cities. Vicky is also passionate about educating schoolchildren about collaborative and sustainable design. In addition, they have a few retail projects, which are approached in the same vein, with the idea of bringing customisation, sustainability and collaboration into retail.
With a few incarnations their work for start-up Belgian chocolate and craft beer brand ‘The Artist’ introduces customers to their customisation offer, as customers can purchase ‘selfie’ chocolate and beer for their friends and family. With the ability to print labels either on-site or online, the company has also teamed up with businesses and shopping centres to provide corporate gifts. The playful concept has taken the form or The Artist Bike, The Artist Shop and the Artist lab. Easy to move and assemble, the furniture can be arranged in a variety of configurations and each iteration is designed using reclaimed materials.
One of their latest projects, The Artist House, also features an aqua farm, creating a multipurpose space where customers can explore the craft beers and co-create their own food and drink. As the first farm to glass concept in Hong Kong, they demonstrate how their carbon footprint can be lowered by reducing the traffic distance.
A high level of flexibility is also employed in an earlier project for Mahna Mahna’s showroom in New York. The design of the space for the company, which rents out high-end clothes and accessories to stylists and celebrities, is versatile with a simple muted colour palette and furniture which is designed to be easily reconfigured for different occasions from VIP visits, photoshoots, storage or events and parties.
Throughout Hong Kong tramways remain a historical and sustainable mode of transport for the island’s citizens. The consultancy used a tram to raise awareness of the sustainable vehicle, but also explore the concept of mobile architecture which could incorporate everything from a bar/restaurant to a shop or even act as a mobile fashion catwalk.
The execution of their retail projects may appear quite straightforward, but there is much thought goes into the process and they have no fear of experimenting or exploring new and yet untravelled pathways. Avoid Obvious Architects is a curious company, virtuous, yet playful and one worth following.