Beauty is in simplicity. And that apparent simplicity is the hardest to design as we so often want too much – to show the full range of our creative abilities and desires in one single design; what we failed to achieve in our last project, and now have perfected; new ideas we have discovered that would be really good to try out.
Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it (Bruce Mau) and, finally, sleep it off. So, let’s make no mistake about this – the whole process always takes longer than we plan. Much longer.
The Small-Format Gallery in Bol on the island of Brač was designed as an exhibition space for the presentation of various artists and their pieces from a donated private collection of miniatures owned by Ivica Karninčić Koloč. The Gallery is located on the first floor of a centrally located 19th-century building of the First Croatian Public Reading Room. When the client, Bol Agricultural Cooperative, approached us with a request to convert the two connected houses accommodating shops, a fish market, a music school, and part of the municipal offices, into a hotel with a small gallery, our feelings were ambivalent: negative because of the contribution to the touristification of the town; positive because of the excitement that comes with designing. Through our joint efforts and endeavours, we managed to agree on the best possible combination: a small city hotel with public facilities for the locals and guests. With the gallery, the public facilities on the ground floor, and a multipurpose hall on the top floor, the building of the First Croatian Public Reading Room will retain its public character, which it has had since the 19th century.
The design of the gallery has achieved the objective of a complete transformation of existing office premises into an open exhibition space with a minimum number of architectural elements. The design approach was based on the need to accommodate a large number of miniature paintings and sculptures in a small space of almost 115 m². In addition, in the same space, it was also necessary to provide a place for numerous art monographs, as well as a space for storing artwork so that the display could be variable.
Intact from the existing walls, ceiling and floor, a white floating skin meanders in the gallery space. It vibrates between the precious views from the existing openings, creating the scenography of a long exhibition canvas with numerous paintings. It maximizes the display area and hides the heating and cooling installations, the storage for artwork on hold, as well as storerooms and everything else that should not be visible.
The box for video screenings floats, separated in space from the volume of the skin. While entirely white on the outside, it is entirely black on the inside. In it, the viewer, isolated from the outer whiteness, enters the world of a miniature minute film. It is an anechoic chamber with a TV, closed with a heavy blackout curtain.