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Frieze Art Fair Opens a "Comfort Zone" Inspired by the Sharing Economy

Art collective ÅYR's installation looks at how technology and disruptive innovation is transforming the home.
Comfort Zone. Photograph by Lewis Ronald. Courtesy of Lewis Ronald/Frieze.

The Frieze Art Fair has rolled into London's Regent's Park, and with it over 160 galleries from across the globe showcasing the work of hundreds of contemporary artists. Obviously, that's quite a lot of art to look over—and that's not even mentioning the Sculpture Park and Frieze Masters which are showcasing works from Ancient Egyptian wooden sculptures to 18th century caricature monographs.

Along with this art horde there is newly commissioned work, created especially for the fair. Called Frieze Projects, one of the highlights was by a relatively new collective of Architectural Association graduates: ÅYR, a group comprising Fabrizio Ballabio, Alessandro Bava, Luis Ortega Govela, and Octave Perrault. ÅYR formed about a year ago and created their first exhibition, AIRBNB Pavilion, for the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale. It showcased works from various artists and architects in rented Airbnb apartments. For them Airbnb was a "paradigm of how the sharing economy of the internet had a tangible spatial impact."


For Frieze they've created an installation called Comfort Zone, which again explores the concepts and values of the sharing economy, along with the rise of the smart home. It's a series of "smart bedrooms" which take inspiration from the corporate breakout areas seen in the San Francisco offices of tech giants like Facebook.

Comfort Zone. Photo by the author.

"These spaces have domestic connotations, but actually it’s the place where most of the creative work is being carried out," ÅYR told The Creators Project. "So we want to provide that kind of space in the fair in this critique of affective labor and how domestic signifiers of the home are being put to work in a way and become productive. How the most intimate space becomes the most public space."

The installation consists of a series of alluring double beds, with phone charges coming out of them to entice people in ("It’s the most comfortable thing when you have a full battery."), along with armchairs, carpets, literal mood lighting, and graffiti—a clash of the urban exterior with the bourgeois interior—on the walls.

"The mattresses have pictures taken from the pictures that sharing economy websites have as a banner when you land on their homepage." explain the collective. "Sharing economy companies never actually own anything apart from the community they create, so these represent the idea of the subjectivity they’re trying to portray or sell to the people who are joining their idea—or ideology almost. We wanted to use them and also put wallpaper patterns on, to speak about this revealing of but also masking of the images. They have this stock image quality to them but they’re actually super staged."


On top of these are duvets with messages sewn into them, messages taken from actual mattresses that have been abandoned in the street. We've all seen the somewhat uncanny sight of a used mattress dumped incongruously on the sidewalk with graffiti scrawled on it like "Sleep with me" or "People fall in love on me." These take that graffiti and bring it inside the home. "It’s making the bed speak for itself too," note ÅYR. "It’s the bed becoming it’s own thing rather than signifying the person behind it."

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In this way, the duvets tie into the concept of smart objects and how they're going to transform the home, transform domesticity, and transform how we interact with objects. In the installation the chandeliers are smart objects, with "smart lights" in them. The lights are hooked into the wifi, picking up the mood of Twitter hashtags associated with the fair and the installation, emails of people working at Frieze, and other social media.

Reading the data they will change the lights depending on whether the chatter is negative or positive—from cold blue light to a soft pink light, so the environment is constantly in flux. The colors of the lights are base on the psychology behind what types of colors are most comfortable for productivity. Blue for intellectual work, pink for creative. "We clashed them all together to provide a more heightened and intense version of the science of comfort."


ÅYR have created the space to be inviting for people wandering around the fair who want to take a load off, but they also see it as a place where art dealers will be drawn to. A place where they can meet clients and conduct deals. In this way it becomes Frieze's very own corporate breakout area. "We wanted to augment the environment of the VIP lounges [at Frieze], and really push to have this super familiar environment in which the underbelly of the art market is being performed."

Comfort Zone. Photograph by Lewis Ronald. Courtesy of Lewis Ronald/Frieze.

Comfort Zone. Photograph by Lewis Ronald. Courtesy of Lewis Ronald/Frieze.

Frieze London runs 14 to 17 October at Regent's Park, London, NW1 4NR.


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