Why did you study architecture?
Johanna: The decision was purely about fashion. I wanted to study law, since that seemed to fit me best, but when I visited a campus to check it out, I couldn’t see myself wearing barbour jackets and scarfs with horse prints. Architects looked a bit more stylish (on that day at least.)
Sam: Before I wanted to study architecture I thought that I wanted to become a banker because it seemed to me that they had the most interesting houses. (This is not to say that bankers all have good houses I just happened upon some as a kid.) Later, it was pointed out that I could make those houses and so here we are.
What was the impetus for founding your office?
We founded our office after five plus years at SANAA in Tokyo. At the time we thought we knew everything and that it would be easy. Neither are true, of course, but it is impossible to go back.
Who do you see as a mentor?
Sejima and Nishizawa are our mentors.
What makes your office special? How does it „work“?
We work too much and we basically don’t like to make decisions which is in fact our job. As a result whenever possible we try to make as many variations as possible. (this we learned from SANAA. That said we’re even more troubled by decisions because ours are not tested. We’re constantly in search of a toolbox: i.e. a june-14 way but that has proven hard to find. Maybe it is there and we don’t know it.
How is your work influenced / inspired?
We like diagrams about people and life. As such, we like people who think clearly is those terms, OMA, SANAA, architecten de vylder vinck taillieu, Office Kersten Geers David van Severen.
Which philosophy guides you in your actions?
As a base situation we are optimists. We think that people have endless unfulfilled potential. We think that people are capable of great change and that architecture and lots of other good things can be a catalyst for that.
What does good architecture mean to you?
We like architecture that is joyful. We like buildings that create new possibilities for people rather than just fulfilling a brief. (Obviously wonderful briefs are excluded.) We like it when architecture finds this newness from something that is already there, some kind of idiosyncrasy that guides.
Which existing building would you have liked to design?
The United Nations Headquarters or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. (For roughly the same reason.)
Spandauer Srtaße 2, 10178 Berlin
26 Bond Street, New York 10012
Inhaber: Johanna Meyer-Grohbrügge, 1979 / Sam Chermyeff, 1981