The Sight Unseen x Snarkitecture Pumpkin-Carving Contest

When we decided a few weeks ago to host a good old-fashioned pumpkin-carving contest with our friends at Snarkitecture — and to invite more than a dozen of our favorite architects and designers to compete — we figured there would be lots of intricate, hand-drawn patterns (there were, courtesy of Daniel Horowitz’s pumpkin in the form of a brain). We knew at least one group would employ meticulous typography (ditto, thanks to Benjamin Critton Art Dept.) What we didn’t guess — perhaps naively, in hindsight — was that the designers would come armed with such an array of power tools, Japanese machetes, kitchen electrics, Arduino-coded LEDs, drywall screws, and the like. As a result, what unfolded last night at Snarkitecture’s Greenpoint studios was nothing short of amazing. Here’s what went down.
The participants — an illustrious group that included Benjamin Critton Art Dept., BIG, Daniel Horowitz, Fort Standard, HWKN, John Bianchi & Timothy Stanley, Lindsey Adelman Studio, Misha Kahn & Katie Stout, RoAndCo, SHoP Architects, Situ Studio, SO-IL, and The Principals — arrived at 6:30PM and were each given a pumpkin. At 7:30, Alex Mustonen of Snarkitecture blew an air horn to indicate the start of play, and everyone was given exactly one hour to complete their design. At 8:30, everyone was asked to put down their X-Actos and offer a 10-second explanation of their creation. Sight Unseen acted as judges for both the grand prize — a pumpkin cast in gypsum cement, designed by Snarkitecture — and the runners-up, whose pumpkins will be displayed in the window of the Collective Design Fair’s Lower East Side offices through the weekend.
It was an agonizing, nearly impossible decision considering the extreme ingenuity on view, but in the end, our choices were clear. The grand prize went to Misha Kahn and Katie Stout, who not only made their pumpkin into a banana but incorporated a hilarious piece of performance art into their submission, hiding out as they did under a canvas fringed with silver garlands for an hour so no one could see what they were doing. Read on for an interview with our winners — as well as a look at all of the other final designs — then head over to Facebook to see more pics from the evening!SUxSnarkitecture_Misha Kahn & Katie Stout

Misha Kahn & Katie Stout (Grand Prize Winners)

Pumpkin Name:

“We wanted to make the pumpkin as irrelevant as possible.”

“A vinyl banana mold, yellow dye, plaster, a blender, and a sawzall to chop it up.  Oh, and sound effects!”

“We chopped up the pumpkin, blended it, added plaster and poured it into the banana.  All while hiding under our tent so nobody would know what was happening (see below)!”

Did it turn out as planned?
“Well… The color was really good but it took longer to set than we were hoping because of all the pumpkin. Maybe it’s done now! It’s in the trunk of Katie’s car.”
Situ Studio (runner-up)
Pumpkin Name:
“Ode to Explode”

“During an intense brainstorming session and analysis of the structural properties of a pumpkin (taut fleshy skin, gooey innards), somehow we all got excited about exploding a pumpkin. But how to sustain the joy? The Hoberman Sphere gave us what we needed. By inserting the expandable ball into a tessellated pumpkin we could perpetually explode and implode in slow motion: structured chaos.”

“Japanese saw, jigsaw, X-Acto knives, drill, electrical tape, black drywall screws painted orange, Hoberman Sphere, LEDs”

“We CNC milled a diamond-shaped jig that we tessellated onto the pumpkins surface, deconstructed the pumpkin with a jigsaw and reassembled by fastening the pieces to the nodes of the Hoberman sphere.”

Did it turn out as planned?
“Our team was really happy with the end product. We all wished that we had had the time to take it further, i.e. build our own metal Hoberman sphere, create a more complex pattern for the pumpkin, decorate it to look like we were exploding/imploding planet earth. But given the time constraints, we feel like we achieved what we had hoped to.”SUxSnarkitecture_Benjamin Critton Art Dept

Benjamin Critton Art Dept. w/Rona Binay (runner-up)
Pumpkin Name:

“Pumpkins—great. Enjoyable things made from pumpkins—Pumpkin Pie. Pies—Circles. Pumpkins—Spheres. Pie—Pi. Pi—3.14. Easy as —.”

“#2 X-Acto; #2, #18, and #24 X-Acto blades; print-out / stencil”

“Draw type, typeset, print, stencil onto pumpkin, cut outlines, cut inlines”

Did it turn out as planned?
It did!”

The Principals (runner-up)

Pumpkin Name:

“It’s a robotic killer pumpkin, ’nuff said.”

“Sonic range sensor, Servo Motor, LED strip, Arduino, drywall screws”

“Step 1:  Watch Friday the 13th, 14 times for inspiration. Step 2: Remove servo motor from RC Car  (we chose an Air Hog for maximum torque-age). Step 3:  Slice and dice that pumpkin. Step 4:  Insert servo motor, sensor, LEDs and drywall screws into pumpkin and you’re done!”

Did it turn out as planned?
“It became something worse than our darkest nightmares.”

For “Under My Skin,” the members of SO-IL sliced one pumpkin into a spiral using a single cut then nailed that onto the exterior of another pumpkin. Genius.

SHoP Architects made a pumpkin spaceship, complete with “SHoPpers ascending”
Inspired by The Shining, but staying super classy in that RoAndCo way, Roanne Adams and her team spray-painted their pumpkin white, then hollowed it out to use as a punch bowl for “Redrum” — which in this case was a yummy mix of pomegranante juice, rum, lime, agave, and sea salt.
SUxSnarkitecture_Fort Standard
Fort Standard made an elegant lamp by scraping out the interior of their pumpkin until it was completely translucent. It’s lit from within with a strip of LEDs they wrapped around a spare can of Budweiser.
SUxSnarkitecture_John Bianchi & Timothy Stanley
Drink at your own risk! John Bianchi and Tim Stanley’s Holla-lean pumpkin was filled with purple Drank, a mix of grape Dimetapp and Sprite.
BIG paid homage to Oscar Niemeyer’s Brasilia Cathedral with their “Oscar Pumpkin-Meyer”
SUxSnarkitecture_Daniel Horowitz
Daniel Horowitz used tools more suited to ceramics — like a dremel and sander — to create his Pumpkin Brain (there’s fake blood underneath, yum)
HWKN made a PMKN with classic Halloween elements: dry ice and spooky accoutrements like eyeballs, rats, and roaches
SUxSnarkitecture_Lindsey Adelman Studio
Another more classic scary-face pumpkin, this one by Bennett Bistline and Josephine King of Lindsey Adelman StudioSUxSnarkitecture_snarkitecture
Snarkitecture, as hosts, weren’t officially allowed to compete, but they participated anyway, and came up with one of the more conceptual entries: the pumpkin’s side is now its top, and its top is its side — or something like that!
Special thanks for Perrier for hosting our event! @societeperrierus