Adolf Loos’s American Bar in Vienna seems apt for a revisit on the occasion the biennial, particularly within our current socio-political context. Designed after the architect’s visit to Chicago where the works of Louis Sullivan and the egalitarian attitudes of American society left deep impressions, the American Bar was a symbol of worldliness and modernity set against the stoic traditions and social segregations of Old Europe. Its role as the watering hole of the intellectual and liberal milieu of Vienna, with customers such as Egon Schiele, Sigmund Freud, and Arnold Schoenberg, further cemented its standing as a cultural icon and as a haven of free exchange, debate, and social conviviality. Since then, replicas of it have spawned in Dublin and Manhattan, re-exports of an already-export, extending its global significance as a product of cross-border exchanges and as a space of openness and equality that seems as universal as it is specific. Defined by its dualisms, Loos’s Bar is both intimate yet expansive, simple yet opulent, introverted yet interconnected, a hidden world nested into a foreign context.
Karamuk * Kuo was established in 2010 by Jeannette Kuo and Uenal Karamuk who bring their international background and diverse building experiences to their design process. Foregrounding the relationship of space and program, each project is approached with the optimism that architecture is the translation of fresh ideas into reality.
The office works on projects of a range of scales—from spatial installations and exhibitions to complex multi-family housing projects—and is always looking for new creative opportunities. In addition, both partners are committed to intellectual pursuits in design research and have been teaching since 2006 at various universities in the U.S. and Switzerland. Jeannette is currently Assistant Professor in Practice at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design.