Whisper Raum

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For Stone Fox Architects’ debut blog, we explore the
inspiration and genesis of Chris and David’s
particularly special creation… namely, the Whisper
Raum. Donated to the December 2013 Winter
Auction benefitting the Aspen Art Museum (AAM),
Whisper Raum is a free-standing, six-foot-tall object
d’art. Designed to accommodate two seated adults,
the almost-emerald green, multi-angled volume is
hinged along one side to permit entry and exit via a
handsome, handcrafted leather strap.
Here is their discussion:
Q. What was your inspiration for Whisper Raum?
Chris: In a world where everything is being watched
and monitored, how do we get away from it all, even if
only for a moment? I wanted to create that space.
David: I see the Whisper Raum as a place for telling
a story, perhaps a secret. It was to be a private
retreat, offering a way of disconnecting from the
surroundings.
Q. Where does the name for this piece come from?
David: “Raum” is the German word for space. I was
in Germany for a while, attended the University of
Stuttgart, and worked as an intern for HOK. I wanted
our creation to have an air of curiosity, even a bit of
mystery. So Whisper Raum is a play and contrast of
both familiar and unknown words.
Chris: “Whisper” seemed obvious from the start, as
it’s an enclosed space, one where you enter to have
an offline, quiet conversation. I wanted people to
think about how they might use such a place.

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Q. You mentioned a recent trip to London, specifically
visiting the Sir John Soane Museum and about seeing
– entirely by chance – the remarkable Cheapside
Hoard. How did the museum and the jewels affect
you?
Chris: Sir John Soane wore many hats in his lifetime
as an architect, designer, and art collector. The result
is evident in the museum; his three town homes all
combined where one can walk through a large
opening only to end up in a very small, very intimate
space filled with fascinating details. I liked that sense
of intrigue, delight and playfulness.
soane-6

David: On that same trip, we happened upon the
Cheapside Hoard Exhibition at the Museum of
London, which included a giant emerald with a
carved-out space where a watch was inserted. This
emerald contained the unexpected. And that’s what
we wanted Whisper Raum to be and do: to fascinate
and to surprise. To see the Hoard, one often had to
use a magnifying glass and in doing so one could
witness an other-worldly detachment. All of these
elements came together for the Whisper Raum.

CheapsideHoarde9cheapside-hoard
Q. Clearly, this was custom-fabrication. What went
into making the Whisper Raum?
David: We turned to Aucapina Cabinets, an oldschool
crafting shop in Queens run by three brothers
from Ecuador, whom we’ve used before on very
special projects. They have a 10,000 square-foot
facility with a staff of 30 and do the best-quality work.
It took six weeks.

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Chris: We had to figure out how it would be built,
materially. To create that contrast and surprise we
spoke of earlier, we wanted the exterior to be high
gloss, while the interior would be plush and seductive.
The shell is made of quarter-inch MDF covered in
many layers of hand-finished lacquer. You’ll notice
the green is deliberately just a little bit off. People
question the hue, and our answer is: “it’s the right
color.” It reminds me of what Frank Lloyd Wright said
to a client about a color decision; “You’ll learn to like
it,” [laughing].
David: The inside is clad in meticulously cut
American walnut; each piece has its own unique
shape. The two seats are covered in green mohair
velvet. A classic 1960’s Italian wall sconce and a cut
crystal Czechoslovakian decanter and glass set are
the only ornaments within. Finally, there is a two-way
mirror, which permits a view outside but only the
faintest glimpse of the interior when the sconce is on.

Chris: The wall sconce is somewhat reminiscent of a
brooch that a fashionable lady from the 1960s might
have worn. It reminds me of the jewelry show we saw
in London. The result is a subdued world, a place you
can share secrets or gossip, and to feel close to
another person. We love it.

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Q. So, what is the experience?
Chris: People ask us, “What does it do?” The
answer is, “Nothing.” It’s what you do when you’re
inside that defines the function of the Whisper Raum.
It’s like a telephone booth for a private conversation,
only that the other person is there, with you.
David: In this ultra-tech era, one might expect hidden
speakers inside, or a plug-in to the internet. But we
didn’t want that; in fact, it’s just the opposite. Take a
moment… retreat, relax, contemplate, but at the same
time enjoy a bit of whimsy.

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2 thoughts on “Whisper Raum

  1. DouglasJFox says:

    Great respite for those who want quiet and solitude. All kinds of future ideas run through my head. A wonderful idea and a great raum for solitude on a cold winter day

  2. Erin pariser says:

    I want a whisper raum!

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