Pavilion Resembling Tar Formed to Challenge Conceptions of Blackness in Design

Pavilion Resembling Tar Formed to Challenge Conceptions of Blackness in Design

The pavilion "Black – Still," conceived by the local design studio enFOLD Collective and located at Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles, draws upon the imagery of the city's tar pits and emphasizes community well-being.


This architectural creation, initiated by the arts non-profit Materials & Applications, takes the form of a 12-foot-tall black box enveloped in wooden lath and mortar. The exterior showcases a fascinating interplay between the 2,000 pieces of black-painted lath and the seeping mortar, referencing the La Brea Tar pits and the way natural forces intersect with human infrastructure in the city's geological makeup.


Inside the open-air structure, a wall of black geotextile mesh serves as a canvas, inviting viewers to attach strips of fabric. Designed as a haven for communal wellness, the pavilion is accessible to the public, offering misters and serving as a venue for various events since its unveiling in late May 2023.


Beyond its functional purpose, the pavilion encapsulates a commentary on the color black in the realm of design. This extends not only to its explicit use as a hue but also to its significance in terms of Blackness.



The inspiration for creating a space of tranquility was partly rooted in the bustling surroundings, situated within the Craft Contemporary museum's courtyard in downtown Los Angeles. Nestled in a confined space adjacent to the complex's building and bordered by a street-side fence, the pavilion finds its grounding.


At its foundation lies a mound of recycled tire rubber mulch, effectively demarcating the serene aura of the installation from the surrounding environment.




"While the inspiration to use the color black was first sparked by the concept of meditation and stillness, it was then reinforced by the presence of and our enchantment by tar," enFOLD Collective founders Dana McKinney White and Megan Echols told Dezeen.



"As Black women trained in the fields of architecture and urban planning, we have both felt the isolation of our identity throughout our education and careers," 


"But this isolation is dwarfed by that of our community which has been historically disenfranchised by a design industry that often and explicitly weaponizes space against them."



enFOLD Collective, established in 2021, holds a mission to amplify the voices of marginalized communities through design. "Black – Still" stands as their inaugural significant installation.


Among other endeavors exploring racial diversity within the architectural landscape, the rooftop installation by Los Angeles artist Lauren Halsey merits mention. Combining elements of Egyptian culture and street art, it was showcased atop the Met in New York City.


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