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Freecell Architecture founders to speak about innovative firm Oct. 9 at ISU

October 02, 2013



AMES, Iowa — Lauren Crahan and John Hartmann, founders of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Freecell Architecture, will speak about the work of their innovative design and fabrication studio Wednesday, Oct. 9, at Iowa State University.

Crahan and Hartmann will present "MAX MAXIM: The making of a monster" at 5:30 p.m. in Kocimski Auditorium, room 101 College of Design. Part of the ISU Department of Architecture's Architecture Advisory Council Lecture Series, their talk is free and open to the public.


Crahan is the principal and Hartmann the creative director of Freecell, which emphasizes interactions among design, architecture and urbanism. With an interest in aesthetics, craft and production, they use projects to balance the functional with the experimental and engage the public about space and experience. Their installations, drawings and furniture address issues of scale, movement and the desires of occupants. The work relies on active participation to surprise and challenge.

The studio includes a workshop where Freecell tests materials, prototypes details, and fabricates furniture and environment installations.

"The time we invest in making and discovery builds an intimate relationship with the work and provides us the ability to produce a simple device to achieve a maximum impact," Crahan said.

"We strive to provide not only a solution to a need, but to instill an understanding of objects and space."

Freecell received a special mention from the jury for its USA Pavilion Exhibition Installation at the Venice Biennale in 2012. In 2011, it was one of 10 winners in the Institute for Urban Design's "By the City/For the City" competition and received an honorable mention in the Van Alen Institute's "Life at the Speed of Rail" competition. The firm was a 2010 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program finalist for the proposal “Cumulus.”

Awards include an American Package Design Award from Graphic Design USA in 2009, Architectural League of New York Emerging Voices in 2005 and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in 2002. The firm's work has been published in Architectural Design, Dwell Magazine, Fast Company, ID Magazine, Metropolis and the New York Times, among others.

Crahan received a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design and has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, RISD, Cornell University, Parsons New School and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Prior to co-founding Freecell Architecture, she was a project designer for Rafael Vinoly Architects PC and Weiss/Manfredi Architects, both in New York City. She is a LEED Accredited Professional.

Hartmann received a Bachelor of Architecture from the Cooper Union and has taught at RISD and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He previously was a designer with LOT-EK Architecture and Design in New York City. He was awarded the Rome Prize Fellowship in Architecture in 2005 and a MacDowell Colony fellowship in 2010 and was named a Young Gun by the Art Directors Club in 2001. He serves on the board of Superfront, a nonprofit organization for architectural experimentation and creative interdisciplinary exchange. He is a fellow at the Institute for Urban Design and a LEED Accredited Professional.

James Spiller, Architecture, (515) 294-3542,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,