‘We Want People to Crawl in and Touch It’: Snarkitecture’s Instagram-Friendly Fun House Is Coming to New York

The 'Snark Park' will open in New York's Hudson Yards in March 2019.

Snarkitecture's "THE BEACH" at the National Building Museum, Washington, DC. Photo by Noah Kalina, courtesy of Snark Park.

The “Snark Park” is coming to New York’s Hudson Yards, the multi-billion-dollar mega-development on New York’s far west side. The permanent venue for “design environments” and “immersive installations” is coming courtesy of design studio Snarkitecture, led by partners Alex Mustonen, Daniel Arsham, and Ben Porto, on March 15, 2019.

“We’re very very excited,” Porto told artnet News. “A lot of our projects have been temporary installations, these interactive immersive experiences, and we’ve always wanted to do something more permanent.”

The new space will showcase Snarkitecture’s playful, monochromatic aesthetic and feature three exhibitions a year. The firm says it hopes to make design accessible to a wider audience with its cross-disciplinary approach to blending art and architecture.

Snark Park will also offer food and drink, as well as “retail experiences” designed to pair with each installation, including limited-edition design objects from Snarkitecture’s own line as well as collaborations with other brands.

Snarkitecture partners Alex Mustonen Daniel Arsham and Ben Porto. Photo by Noah Kalina, courtesy of Snark Park

Snarkitecture partners Alex Mustonen, Daniel Arsham, and Ben Porto. Photo by Noah Kalina, courtesy of Snark Park.

If it sounds like yet another Instagram “museum” trap, that’s because it is. But Snarkitecture was actually at the forefront of the phenomenon. In July of 2015 it staged “The BEACH” at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC: a 10,000-square-foot exhibition featuring a single installation, with deck chairs and umbrellas on the shore of a bright white sea, made up of million white plastic balls.

Today, ball pits are a staple of any good pop-up “museum.” Think of the pool of plastic sprinkles (controversially) at every location of the Museum of Ice Cream, which first opened in New York in 2016, or the 500,000 blue balls at the Color Factory, which launched in San Francisco the following year.

Rendering of Snark Park. Courtesy of Snark Park.

Rendering of Snark Park. Courtesy of Snark Park.

“The BEACH” also emerged two months before Refinery29 debuted the first edition of its popular 29Rooms pop up, and four months before “Wonder“—now often credited as the original the Instagram museum—became an Instagram sensation at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery.

One point of departure from its fellow pop-up spaces will be in its use of color. Unlike millennial pink photo ops, Snarkitecture works almost exclusively in shades of white and gray. “When people ask me, why don’t you use color? To me the answer is ‘the people are the color. The people become part of the experience,'” said Porto. “So in that way it lends itself to making a great photograph, but we’ve been thinking about it way before there was Instagram or the trend of selfies.”

This year, in celebration of its 10th anniversary, Snarkitecture returned to the Building Museum with an even larger exhibition titled “Fun House.” Curated by Maria Cristina Didero, the show’s interactive installations reimagined a traditional home, each room housing a past Snarkitecture project. Porto wouldn’t go so far as to call the exhibition a dry run for Snark Park, but it was definitely proof of concept.

The main difference is that Snark Park will feature all new projects, serving as a kind of Snarkitecture incubator space. “It’s a place where all these different magical things can happen,” said Porto of the all-ages attraction. “We always like to bring a level to childlike wonder to our experiences. We want people to crawl in and touch it and experience it.”

 Snarkitecture, <em>Drift</em> (2012) at Design/Miami. Photo courtesy of Snark Park.

Snarkitecture, Drift (2012) at Design/Miami. Photo courtesy of Snark Park.

Hudson Yards will also be home to Thomas Heatherwick’s massive steel sculpture Vessel, a show-stopping centerpiece of 154 interconnecting flights of stairs that visitors can climb, as well as the highly anticipated Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed cultural center the Shed.

Snark Park is located in the Shops and Restaurants at 20 Hudson Yards, on the second floor. It opens March 15, 2019, and timed tickets will go on sale beginning January 31, 2019. 

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