Each year, Ragdale, an artist community in Lake Forest, Illinois, hosts an artist-in-residence program, inviting architects, artists, and designers to build installations for its summer outdoor performance series. The winner of the 2019 competition was “Shared Beds,” designed by David Costanza, director of Houston practice DCS, and Piergianna Mazzocca, a former Wortham Fellow at Rice and currently a visiting lecturer at UT Austin.
Costanza and Mazzocca’s project is meant to question the role of the individual in relation to the collective by reconsidering the bed. Usually overlooked as part of the background of our lives, beds in fact possess the power to define spaces and interactions. To emphasize this influence, the designers defamiliarized the typically rectangular, flat, and soft thing we all know, instead producing beds that are round, tilty, and made of wood.
Three of these beds are positioned within a grassy clearing on Ragdale’s bucolic campus. The largest, measuring 21 feet in diameter, is a fixed, angled surface that serves as a stage and parallels the axis of approach from the main entrance and the road. The other two are 15 feet in diameter and rest on tipping axes — they actually rock when people get on them and move around. The designers proposed that by tossing out the horizontal stability of a traditional orthogonal bed and introducing a teetering directly related to the position and movement of other people on the same surface, visitors would question their notions of autonomy and become more conscious of those who share their space. It also looks like a lot of fun.
The shared beds are constructed from plywood sheets that were CNC-cut and assembled on site. The conical bases and top sheets are supported by internal waffle frames. Waterproofed with urethane, the design allows for easy assembly and disassembly for future reuse.