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Knowhow Shop's 'Lighthouse' is a micro-office that's built like furniture and looks like minimalist sculpture

October 26, 2018

Lighthouse is a tiny studio space conceived by two Los Angeles-based designers to be built "like a piece of furniture". Kagan Taylor and Justin Rice share an interest in traditional craft and digital fabrication, which they bring together in their projects in order to feed their "commitment to contemporary architectural design". The fruits of their professed dedication have given rise to this faceted, gem-like structure, built to house their own studio. Lighthouse is meticulously finished, uniquely shaped, and seemingly belonging to another world.  

 

Cover image: Lighthouse Office, Knowhow Shop, photo by Stephen Schauer

Lighthouse Office, Knowhow Shop, photo by Stephen Schauer

 

Knowhow Shop is known for its material exploration and eagerness to use traditional and digital craft in a way that yields unexpected results. In their own architecture and design work, Justin and Kagan say that their approach has the sensitivity of a craftsperson's, that good humour is also thrown into the mix, and that converting the hyper-digital into what they call the 'real-surreal', is the goal. Lighthouse expressly demonstrates all these things. It's beautiful, but it's also strange – there's the humour bit. It's believably man-made, but could also have been dropped into the studio's back yard from another planet – that's the 'real-surreal' covered. What about the craft? 

Lighthouse Office, Knowhow Shop, photo by Stephen†Schauer

 

"We discarded typical details and assemblies in favour of new methods of construction from the ground up," the two designers explain when describing the project. "The result is a project designed to test our craft in materials and our perceptions of space. From a door with no right angles, to a custom-made skylight that marries traditional boatbuilding materials with details borrowed from a car sunroof, to shop fabricated and mitred SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) joined with film industry hardware".

Lighthouse Office, Knowhow Shop, photo by Stephen Schauer

Lighthouse Office, Knowhow Shop, photo by Nephew LA

 

So that's also a check on the craft-led approach. Justin and Kagan assert that this would not have been a project that they could have handed off to a contractor to execute. Their process instead was to bypass normal methods of architectural production, and instead rely on experimentation in their design/build model.

 

The real triumph of Knowhow Shop's Lighthouse is not just it's ability to cleverly maximise on space, light, and site-specitivity; but rather its achievement in demonstrating how pre-fab materials can be used to create spaces that go beyond conventional briefs. That 'bespoke' can actually give its own bang for its buck, provided designers creatively engage their lateral construction thinking skills. That's a whole lot of work going on for one little building.  

Explore more of Knowhow Shop's work on their website. Or look them up on Instagram: @knowhowshop, and Twitter: @knowhowshop.

NEXT: Moveable feasts: Merrett Houmøller's pop-up kitchen defies cultural borders

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