GROSS.MAX and Promiscuous Collage

Sifting through Harvard Design Magazine’s latest Issue devoted to the topics of landscape, urbanism and sustainability in reference to pleasure and erotics….

An illustrated essay by Gross.Max (Design Against Nature) reminded me the unique effects of  their collages:

Part of the appeal of  GROSS.MAX’s design vignettes is that they don’t try to be photographically ‘real’ and they avoid over-determinacy, creating a back and forth exchange of vicarious sensual and intellectual experience.  They read as open visual text with space for contingency and possibility…a reproductive agency that  flirts with the reader’s imagination.

Rather than illustrating a landscape product, they open up possibility and create suspension and wonder.  They index themselves as lingering imagined fantasies that reveal notions of what might be, while acknowledging a propositional future that doesn’t yet exist.  As both diagram and collage they provide a welcome counterpoint to the barrage of  seamless 3D software renderings and laboriously overworked Photoshop illustrations that  leave little for the imagination to play with.

All images by GROSS.MAX


  1. I love, love, love their collages; right up there with paisajes emergentes. ethereal, evocative, sometimes beautiful. nice critique of why there images work so well.

    and that is why i was thoroughly demoralized when i read that essay. i just hated it (not that it was that bad, but i had wanted so much more after admiring their images for years). Jesus! I mean, at best it seemed a recycling of some late 90’s dutch design speak (say, west 8 or mvrdv) and even raised the specter of modernism (both of whom i admire, of course, but don’t totally buy).

    the way you talk about their work (and write here at f.a.d.) is much more interesting, open-ended, mysterious, etc. than the way they describe their own stuff.

    what did you think about the essay itself?

  2. I thought the essay was a bit short to provide the opportunity to really dig in (in contrast to the density of the Sorkin article in the same collection)….sort of like an oddly memorable, yet brief passage of conversation near the end of cocktail hour…bits of which come back to me later. I’ve definitely read other essays by them that I have enjoyed more. I do appreciate their eclectic range of historical influences and references – quotes from likes of Darwin and philosophers that I haven’t heard of that offer something different from the usual pool of borrowed suspects. And indeed, stylistically similar to the likes of Koolhaas and West8 (of which I think 1/3 of the principals used to be part of), I can get into their irreverence, provocation and hyperbole to launch a dialogue. They are a bit openly decadent in a time when it’s not so cool to be.

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