Contextual Study Point 2.2.2: Truth to materials

Can you find 5 examples of designers, architects or artists whose work aligns with the “Truth to Materials” phrase?

Find photographs and reflect on them in your learning log. Questions you may want to ask are:

What materials are used? Are the construction/fixing methods visible? How are they using materials to display this ethos?

Example 1:

Architects: Estúdio Penha (based in Sao Paolo, Brasil

Fig. 1 Gallery of Akqa Agency / Estúdio Penha – 3

Materials used are wooden floors, exposed brick walls, exposed concrete ceiling and walls, cables are run in pipes that are showcased, exposed pipe going down from air conditioning unit, exposed steel industrial trunking (that runs to air conditioning unit), exposed steel construction beams (look rusty), steel window frames, internal glass partitions. Wooden floors.

All installations are on show, the trunkings, the pipes, the walls and ceiling are bare showing the exact materials they’re made off.

Fig. 2 Gallery of AKQA Agency / Estúdio Penha – 1

Materials used are construction steel for steps and landings; steel profiles; balustrades are made of steel profiles and what seems to be wire mesh panels; the walls are left bare, showing off the concrete material; the trunkings are made of metal pipes, all connectors are on show. Red pipes seem to be that colour because of some sort of foam insulation on them – it looks soft. Steel elements look rusty, left untreated. There’s a bit of wood on the edge of top landing. Windows are framed in metal.

Fig. 3 Gallery of Quinta da Baroneza House / Estúdio Penha – 3

Bare walls – brick and concrete, terracotta on the floor – looks hard and smooth, concrete work top and kitchen island. Exposed pipes under the counter. Metal window frames, large windows.

Fig. 4 Gallery of Rizoma / Estúdio Penha – 1

Concrete walls and ceilings. We can clearly see the concrete blocks/ tiles that the ceiling is composed of. Electrical installation is run on top of the walls in pipe-like trunkings. Metal window frames, large windows.

Example 2:

Architects: SP62 Arquitetura (based in Sao Paolo, Brasil

Fig. 5 Maker World / Shopping Morumbi Town

Steel profiles and concrete they are attached to are exposed and painted fluorescent green, their surface is looking rough. The walls are exposed, grey coloured brick. Ceiling is constructed of metal construction sheets and is exposed in places. We can see silver metal and red pipes. Floor is concrete. In the right corner there is a thick wooden post, I suppose it’s a construction element. Support elements (towards the middle of the wall) and parts of the ceiling are painted black.

Fig. 6 Gallery of Verum Iguatemi Office / SP62 Arquitetura – 1

 Example 3: Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) – Romanian sculptor, painter and photographer.

Fig. 7 Head

Head sculpture is carved out of oak, we can clearly see the wood grain, knags and cracks, it looks warm, smooth, polished and at the same time the surface is ribbed, the material imperfections are on show.

Fig. 8 Maiastra

Maiastra is a sculpture of bronze on limestone base. The bronze surface looks cold and shiny. We can see some imperfections on the surfaces, I’m guessing those appeared during casting process. The straight edges don’t look sharp, but still appear hard. The shape is very slightly irregular, we can recognise it by the way the light bounces of it. The bronze part looks strong and heavy. The limestone base looks rough, we can see where pieces of stone chipped away during sculpting process. The sculpture is irregular, looks sharp, hard, rough, cold and brittle. The base also looks heavy, but not as dense as bronze part.

Example 4: Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903 – 1975) – British sculptor

Fig. 9 Sculpture with profiles

Sculpture with profiles is carved out of alabaster with alabaster base. It looks soft and heavy, it has a waxy shine. We can see the mineral structure all over but best where the light seems to be seeping through the base on the left-hand side. There are natural imperfections visible all over, but the shape looks smooth and polished apart from few blemishes and few carved out shapes. The edges are gently rounded, and base edges are straight but look very slightly jagged.

Fig. 10 Pierced Hemisphere II

The above artwork is made of Hoptonwood stone on Portland stone base. The sculpture surface looks very rough and grainy. The surface imperfections are clearly visible, the colour is uneven. The edge of inner circle is rounded and smoother than slightly jagged, more defined outer edge. Somehow the top part looks denser and heavier than bottom part. The base has straight(ish), very slightly jagged edges and yellowish ‘veins’ are clearly visible. The top surface of the base looks uneven, as if the artist worked with agreement with the material, respecting its natural properties.

Example 5: John Skeaping (1901-1980) – English sculptor

Fig. 11 Buffalo

Buffalo is sculpted of lapis-lazuli stone on marble base. The surface of top part is cracked in many places, but it looks as if it was slightly polished around. The colour varies naturally from very light cream, through greys and brows to dark blue. The nose colours make it look dirty and surface there looks rough. The edges are rounded and polished, but the artwork is not shiny. It looks fragile. The base looks shiny and cold, has slight imperfections on the top surface, the edges look smooth, rounded, and I believe they are straight despite the play of light making them to appear slightly curved.

Fig. 12 Fish

The above sculpture is made of Ironstone on serpentine base. The upper part has a rusty colour, looks soft, almost wooden. The chip on the lower lip shows softness and brittleness of the material. There are a couple of cracks on the head. The colour varies, shows natural structure of the stone. It seems that the general shape of the fish and the rounded edges show properties of the stone and how artist worked with them to create this form. It looks dense and heavy with small indented spots. The base looks very smooth, polished, straight and shiny (despite no shine visible). It looks easy to cut straight; the edges are perfect lines with rounded corners, the top is flat. It looks cold and hard. We can clearly see the mineral structure of this serpentine stone.

Reflection on the task:

It was quite difficult to find architectural practice that has truth to materials written in their ethos. Perhaps because the final designs usually depend on what the clients want, and some people just like plaster and paint on the walls, or simply cost restrictions force them to choose cheaper and less ‘true’ materials.

List of illustrations

Fig. 1 Reinés, T. (2016) Gallery of Akqa Agency / Estúdio Penha – 3 [Photograph] At: (Accessed 02.02.2020)

Fig. 2 Reinés, T. (2016) Gallery of Akqa Agency / Estúdio Penha – 1 [Photograph] At: (Accessed 02.02.2020)

Fig. 3 Magnani, M (2014) Gallery of Quinta da Baroneza House / Estúdio Penha – 3 [Photograph] At: (Accessed 02.02.2020)

Fig. 4 Acayaba, M (2017) Gallery of Rizoma / Estúdio Penha – 1 [Photograph] At: (Accessed 02.02.2020)

Fig. 5 Affaro, V. (2017) Maker World / Shopping Morumbi Town [Photograph] At:,h_747,al_c,q_90,usm_0.66_1.00_0.01/3c7ed8_9a3f65402b064bd08f63242a430fd284~mv2_d_5464_3642_s_4_2.webp (Accessed 02.02.2020)

Fig. 6 Inside Art Studio (2019) Gallery of Verum Iguatemi Office / SP62 Arquitetura – 1 [Photograph] At: (accessed 02.02.2020)

Fig. 7 Brancusi, C (c. 1919- 1923) Tête [Sculpture] At: (accessed 08.02.2020)

Fig. 8 Brancusi, C (1911) Maiastra [sculpture] At: (Accessed 08.02.2020)

Fig. 9 Hepworth, B. (1932) Sculpture with profiles [Sculpture] At: (Accessed 08.02.2020)

Fig. 10 Hepworth, B. (1937-8) Pierced Hemisphere II [Sculpture] At: (Accessed 08.02.2020)

Fig. 11 Skeaping, J. (1930) Buffalo [Sculpture] At: (Accessed 08.02.2020)

Fig. 12 Skeaping, J. (1929-30) Fish [Sculpture] At: (Accessed 08.02.2020)

References: (accessed 01.02.2020) (accessed 01.02.2020) (accessed 01.02.2020) (accessed 01.02.2020) (accessed 01.02.2020) (accessed 01.02.2020) (accessed 02.02.2020) (accessed 02.02.2020) (accessed 02.02.2020) (accessed 02.02.2020) (accessed 08.02.2020) (accessed 08.02.2020) (accessed 08.02.2020) (accessed 08.02.2020) (accessed 08.02.2020) (accessed 08.02.2020) (accessed 08.02.2020)

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