Bed Sitting Rooms for an Artist in Residence / Allan Wexler

Allan Wexler, Bed Sitting Rooms for an Artist in Residence, 1988



drywall, wood, paint, carpet

Two rooms are connected by a flexible, functional installation where visiting artists live while they work on their own installations in other spaces.

The space is delineated by color – grey carpet, pale blue on walls, doors, and into the hall. The opening in the wall between the two rooms through which everything shared can pass – light bulbs, beds, and arm rests – is painted bright red.

The two single beds roll through the wall for sleeping or sitting. They can be positioned to make sofas, a king-sized bed, or separate beds in each room. Back cushions reverse to headboards.
Artist Statement
The Mattress Factory acquired a rundown rowhouse near its original building and commissioned me to design a living space for its Artist-in-Residence program. The space consisted of two rooms that might need to function in a variety of ways:
  • for one occupant who wants a sitting area in one room and a single bed in the other
  • for a couple who want a sitting area in one room and a double bed in the other room
  • for two people who each want privacy with a single bed and/or a sofa in each room
  • for a person who wants an empty room for working and a bedroom.

I superimposed a 13' 8" x 19' x 8' volume into the middle of the two-room space, the center wall dividing this new 'room' in half. Everything within this volume was treated as new construction, with blue walls and grey carpet. The areas outside of this 'room' were left as is and completely covered with white paint. The wall dividing 'my room' has a series of openings through which the furniture components can partially or fully pass through.
  • Two mattresses roll through on wheels.
  • Two light bulbs rotate through the wall and can be used in either space.
  • The sofaback (cushion)/night table swivels around and locks into place when needed to complete a bed or sofa.
  • The sofa arms slide through to complete the sofa.

These transformations are decided upon by the occupant, completed in seconds, and so can be redesigned many times a day. The fabric used is grey flannel, ambiguous as a sofa covering or a bedspread. The interior of the cuts in the wall are emphasized with red paint.
About the Artist
"Allan Wexler has worked in the fields of architecture, design and fine art for forty-five years. He has been represented by the Ronald Feldman Gallery in New York City since 1984 and has exhibited, taught and lectured nationally and internationally since 1972. Wexler currently teaches at Parsons School of Design in New York City. Wexler is a fellow of the American Academy in Rome, winner of a Chrysler Award for Design Innovation and the Henry J. Leir Prize from the Jewish Museum in New York. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2016. He has had numerous national and international solo exhibitions, has lectured on his work internationally and has been reviewed by major art and architecture publications. 

Wexler’s career resists easy classification. In the late 1960’s he was an early member of the group of architects and artists who questioned the perceived divide between art and the design disciplines. They called themselves non-architects or paper architects. Wexler’s work explores the poetics of space and non-function in the functional. “I’m an artist in an architect’s body,” says Allan Wexler. His medium is the complex relationship between art and design. The work considers the power of the handcrafted in the time of digital, the use of chance and the value of accident, our body’s relationship to the built, and our roots from the primitive hut. These experimental works have sought to examine architecture in order to re-evaluate our most basic assumptions about our relationship to what we build, why we build and how that effects and our daily lives. Wexler is best known as a hands-on maker. He investigates using series, permutations and chance rather than searching for definitive solutions. He makes buildings, furniture, vessels and utensils as backdrops and props for everyday human activity. The works isolate and elevate our daily activities: dining, sleeping, and bathing. And they, in turn, become mechanisms that activate ritual, ceremony and movement, turning the ordinary into theater."

Wexler received both his Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design and his Master of Architecture from Pratt Institute. 

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