by Weican Zuo

In the heat of Hydra
I am the only one
As sparks dance and twinkle
After the evening sun

Make shift a temple of tannins
Exalt yourselves with tribute
Tonight we drink alone
Decrying that damned statute

Tomorrow will be better
And the next day, too
Flatten the curve, and
Soon we will rendezvous

So here it stands
An artless trope
It’s short and sweet
My edict of hope

by Michael Borseillino

 

By Thea Thorrell

My neighbors told me that their couch could fit six people without any issues, not a long time ago.
I pondered the probability of finding six people that have no issues a few seconds ago. 
Due to the pandemic, my neighbors left the country two months ago.
They sold most of their belongings a few weeks ago. 
I bought their couch, even though I had to leave my job some time ago.
I told my friends that we can meet up secretly and sit on the couch; that I can wear a mask if they insist; and that we can get hand sanitizer so I can rub them, and they can rub me until we get caught about three weeks ago.
. . .
I attended a Vocational High School of Construction, Architecture, and Geodesy more than a decade ago.
I got my first master’s degree one year ago.
I got my second master’s degree a few days ago. 
I looked forward to becoming a licensed architect and working full-time at a firm a few weeks ago. 
My parents are divorced and are currently essential workers, and I became an essential worker a few hours ago. 
I found my only brother's body in the bathroom; he stabbed himself in the chest, stomach, and eye, and slashed his throat multiple times like an animal a few years ago.
His ashes and I were the only ones sitting on the new/old couch just a moment ago.

 

by Sarah Jammal

 

by Colin Cusimano

Soft memory worn
couch so comfortable I fold
paper into laptop blue light
filters under the closed door the shock
of water too cold to swim sank
my heels in the lake bottom silt
you call me from shore, another
afternoon lying folding
blankets, chewing ice, remembering you.

 

by Amy Wang

 

by Christopher Prinsen

 

By Gary Zhang

 

By Will Deutsch

After a long night in studio, Taubman architecture student name unknown (to be referred to as TASNU from here on out) settles into his Northwood Apartment couch that was obtained from Craigslist Free page. In the midst of his severe sleep deprivation, after pulling two all-nighters to complete his architecture theory paper by the Tuesday midnight deadline, he begins to hallucinate and converse with his couch. After a brief exchange between TASNU and his couch regarding the quality of his Pierpont Commons Panda Express dinner, the conversation lands on the topic of furniture. Couch points out that TASNU has built numerous pieces of furniture for Mick Kennedy’s furniture proposition studio that reside in the apartment, but always decides to rest on the couch that he obtained for free off of Craigslist. A dialogue ensues focused on the use of furniture as a medium for architectural designers to explore form and elements of buildings.


TASNU: “Hey couch. How is it going?”


Couch: “Where the hell have you been? I haven’t seen you in two days.”


TASNU: “Please direct all questions regarding my where about for the past two days to John McMorrough.”

Couch: “What are you talking about? Have you been out drinking with professors again or something?”


TASNU: “What is with all of the questions? I have been at school trying to write this theory paper that was due earlier this evening. I had to rewrite the whole things after meeting with my Graduate Student Assistant and finally understanding what the paper is supposed to be about. Now if you don’t mind, I am going to get some sleep before I have to get up in a few hours to work on my studio project.”


Couch: “Are you really going to sleep on top of me again?”


TASNU: “I am just laying down for a little bit. This is what furniture is for, in case you have forgotten.”


Couch: “I don’t think you have any idea what furniture is really for.”


TASNU: “This coming from a couch that was being given away like an unwanted child on Craigslist.com?”

TASNU cracks open a room temperature bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

Couch: “You don’t have to bring my past into this. You know I am sensitive about it. Anyway, that is completely unrelated. All I am saying is that you spend all this time in studio making so called “furniture” with Mick Kennedy, and then you come home and don’t even use any of it.”

TASNU: “You obviously don’t understand the relationship between furniture and architecture. Why is it that everyone seems to think they know something about architecture, and has never taken a single class or designed anything before in their life? Everyone is a critic these days. Now I have to come home and hear it from you too. If you had listened to even half of what I say about studio this semester, then you would know that we use furniture as a medium to explore architectural form, suggest new patterns of human behavior, and find new ways for use materials. It isn’t about the fact that they are furniture, it is about what the furniture can reveal for architectural purposes“ (Fure 2).

Couch: “I am glad that you are buying into this whole architecture student thing. I really am. It is a lot better than when you tried to convince yourself that you could make a dime with that binge drinking degree you got in undergrad. The thing I don’t understand is how you can even consider this crap furniture if it doesn’t fulfill the sole definition of furniture, lending itself to make a space usable for a specific use like working, sleeping or eating. I may not be as glamourous as the stuff you make at school, but at least I meet that criteria when needed.”


TASNU: “You don’t have any idea what you are talking about. Architects have been doing the same thing we are doing with Mick for decades.”


Couch: “That is exactly my point though. If all of you designers are going to insult my kind by suggesting that we can be used for architectural purposes or exploration, then you should only do it with actual usable furniture. Otherwise it is simply sculpture that you all are making.”


TASNU: “If you are so informed on the topic as you are claiming to be, then name some examples that don’t meet your high and mighty criteria for being welcomed into the furniture family that you have promoted yourself to as head of house.”


Couch: “Sure thing. While you have been wasting your time on theory, I have been here reading up. How about the works of First Office like the Possible Table that you based your midterm piece after? That piece requires instructions for use, and does not even appear to stand in a way that it can support objects placed on top of it. Or what about Couch on Couch by the same group? They didn’t even bother to realized that one. And I am as open minded as the next couch, but that name is a little too provocative for something that claims to be architectural or furniture for that matter.”


As TASNU begins to make a dent in his third room temperature Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, he becomes visible angry and increasingly more irrational in thought.

TASNU: “That is it. I have had enough of your unwarranted opinions. This house is now officially restricted to furniture that has architectural merit. Get out!”


Couch: “I can’t get out on my own. I am a couch, in case you have forgotten.”


TASNU: “Fine. I will do it myself then.”


Putting his unfinished PBR into the back pocket of his black Levi pants, TASNU drags his Craigslist couch to the street curb outside of his apartment. After waking up a few neighbors with his shouting and dragging of the couch, TASNU lays back down on the couch on the street curb to finish off his PBR and the argument at hand.

TASNU: “I feel better now that we are outside. I am sorry. I haven’t slept much lately, and the stepping down of Sharon Haar as chair of the architecture program has been making me really stressed if I am being honest.”

Couch: “Don’t you mean Chairon Haar?”


TASNU: “That isn’t funny.”


Couch: “Ok ok. Chill out a little bit. But I don’t want to stop talking about this. Now, If you are going to ask me to name precedents like we are back at Taubman, then I am going to do the same.”


TASNU: “That is fair. How about the project Drop Leaf Table by Norman Kelly? That is a project that explores concepts of architecture AND can be used to support items put on top of it, you know like a table.”


Couch: “You are proving my point for me. That is an example of a piece that I would consider furniture, and might serve some architectural purpose as well. But the others we have talked about, and that crap you made that is back in our apartment is not. That is sculpture, or something in between the two categories. It is almost as if you can define it by what it is not. It is not architecture, and it is not furniture.”


TASNU: “You read my theory readings didn’t you?”


Couch: “What are you talking about?”


TASNU: “You obviously read that piece John assigned by Ross Krauss.”


Couch: “It is Rosalind Krauss.”


TASNU: “I knew you were going through my stuff! I am glad you are out here where you can’t touch stuff that isn’t yours anymore.”


Couch: “I wasn’t going through your stuff. You leave your stuff all around the apartment, and I found the reading tucked under one of my cushions last week.”


TASNU: “So what is your point?”


Couch: “My point is that you, and lots of designers for that matter, are working through opposing terms. The further you push the definition of what furniture is, the more the boundaries of the medium are expanded. Eventually, as the boundaries are expanded, the term furniture will become unrecognizable. This is not so different from what Kraus describes with sculpture in the reading.”


TASNU: “To be honest I didn’t even read it, so I don’t completely understand what you are talking about.”

Couch: “All I am saying is that the work that is being produced and called furniture is really just some form of sculpture. These pieces are at the intersection of what is notarchitecture and not-furniture. I will draw it for you. You architects don’t seem to be able to understand anything without a drawing anyway.”


Pulling out a lightly used napkin from under of the cushions. Couch quickly sketches the following diagram.

Couch: “So if sculpture is what you are calling these items because they have been stretched too far from both architecture and furniture and fall under not-architecture and not-furniture, then what is the intersection of architecture and furniture?” 


TASNU: “I don’t know. I am just a couch, remember. Maybe some sort of usable art installation. You will have to ask John McMorrough or Mick Kennedy about those question marks.” 


Couch: “Ok I will email them in the morning if that will make you happy.” 


TASNU: “Going back in the  apartment where it isn’t cold is what would make me happy. Can you at least agree that if furniture is to be used as a medium for architecture, then we need to do a better job of redefining what furniture is so that we can determine if objects fall under that category or not.” 


Couch: “No. We use furniture as a medium as a means of exploration and discovery. Not to satisfy your definitions.”

As TASNU begins to feel the full affect of the PBRs consumed throughout the evening, they begin to doze off to sleep while sprawled across couch still located on the street curb. Before dozing off completely, the two individuals look at each other and state in unison: “On this we will have to agree to disagree!"

Works Cited
Rosalind Krauss. "Sculpture in the Expanded Field." October 8 (1979)

"Possible Table." First Office. firstoff.net/projects/Possible_Table/

"Loud Lines" Bairballiet. (2018) bairballiet.com/MOMA-PS1-LOUD-LINES-2018

"Drop Leaf Table." Norman Kelly. (2017) normankelley.us/drop_leaf_table.html
Adam Fure, Blair Kelly, Kristy Balliet, and Kyle Miller. "Furniture" in Possible Mediums. New York: 
Actar (2018)

An e-zine by the Planning + Architecture Research Group
P+ARG 2019-20 co-coordinators: Bader AlBader, Christine Hwang, Taru
Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning
University of Michigan