Text description provided by the architects. As part of 2010, the Whitney Biennial, Jeffrey Inaba’s firm, INABA, was commissioned to design a pop‐up café located in the museum’s interior courtyard. The project consists of three (3) large‐scale lanterns that occupy the courtyard’s double‐height space, a 24‐foot long service counter, communal tables, high‐top counters and ‘droopy’ seat cushions.
However bold in form or expressive in materials, it was striking to us that postwar architecture is vulnerable to appearing cold, incomplete and lacking in detail. Depending on the character of the interior design, even the strongest statements of modern architecture can today sometimes verge on feeling unadorned, like a dentist office waiting area. We wanted to add another scale of detail and information to the Breuer building’s interior. Only instead of using stark simple forms and exposed natural materials, we tried to enhance the space, to ‘re‐humanize’ it, with curved shapes and a palette of synthetic materials (fiberglass, resin, nylon, acrylic and vinyl).
In conjunction with Jeffrey Inaba’s Columbia University‐based group, C‐Lab, INABA developed graphic design elements for the café, including T‐shirts, signage and the menu. In addition, they created order cards, which together comprise an unofficial Whitney Museum of American Art Building Materials Collection. Each card shows the front and back surface of a material found in the Breuer building.
The café is operated by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, and features sandwiches created specifically for the pop‐up by USHG’s renowned chefs. The menu items are available at the Whitney only, for the duration of this installation.
The café, called ‘Sandwiched,’ will serve visitors until the opening of a permanent restaurant in September 2010.