Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on July 5, 2008
Symbiosis in design always intrigues me. While the integration of disparate and creative elements into one cohesive unit doesn’t always make for great art — when it works, it’s worth noting. From the strange but wonderful slicing and clanging noises in ‘80s Depeche Mode music (which seemed radical at the time) to a chandelier made from exploded party poppers, it’s the joining of unusual things that I most love to hear and see.
The same goes for verbal or intellectual concepts. Take, for example, John Paananen’s Suburban Tipi (or teepee, as I like to call it). It’s hard to imagine someone actually building a teepee in the middle of suburbia, but that’s exactly what Johnny P did in Bloomfield, Michigan. Inspired by the “fused nomadic home designs of the yurt, tipi, and igloo” (as well as an encounter with a teepee-housed woman named Rosemary, who accused the designer of interfering with her energy), Paananen “slip[ped] the straitjacket of suburban values, materials, and methods of construction over them” to create this temporary “house” that stood for seven months.
Sounds pretty heavy as a concept (especially the part about the energy molestation), but the actual structure was quite simple. Using PVC siding, polypropylene fluted sheeting, engineered timber and other materials (including “a whole lot of screws”), Paananen built the 16-foot tall, 18-foot diameter teepee just to see if he could. It even had a fire pit inside, which I’m sure came in handy during the Michigan winters.
Not sure if there’s room in my backyard for a suburban teepee (but if there were, I would try to stay away from the non-“G” PVC), but there will always be a place in my consciousness for the juxtaposition of dissimilar concepts. (Did that sound pretentious? Good.)
Check out more of Paananen’s designs at johnny p dot org.