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Mason Studio Augments Biophilia in Latest Experimental Installation

The six-foot floating island of lush greenery is a landmark installation visible throughout the studio.

By Joseph Cicerone
Photography by Scott Norsworthy

Through its artful balance of familiarity and novelty, Mason Studio’s Refuge in the Sky is an ode to the natural world. The interior design studio has a knack for building captivating installations within the walls of its west-end Toronto workspace, something that founding partner Stanley Sun calls “an inherent part of the studio’s foundation.”

Since its inception eleven years ago, Mason Studio has experimented with interior design in non-traditional ways—from its public gallery space to an improvisational studio display of biophilic wall drawings by architect and designer Dom Cheng. “These are opportunities where we can allow ourselves to play,” says Sun. “These projects often challenge what interior design means to us and allow us to better understand how to make a bigger impact through our work.” The latest, named after Studio Ghibli’s Castle in the Sky, sees a six-foot floating island of lush greenery suspended in-air; confronting studio dwellers with wonder and awe.

hanging plant installation

The concept for Refuge in the Sky was born out of an appreciation for the peculiar. “If there’s too much familiarity in something, we tend to forget about it; but if there’s too much novelty, we often don’t have the cognitive capacity to remember it long term,” says Sun—reciting a line from Per Sederberg’s Why Peculiar Matters. On a quest for middle ground between these two points came the decision to suspend the earthen-inspired installation high enough so that it peeks at the studio’s second floor. “It’s about taking something that’s incredibly familiar to us (nature), and putting it into a rather precarious and unexpected position.” The result is an enchanting display of uprooted vegetation that is equally as complex as it is apparent.

plant design concept

“We’re pretty scrappy,” says Sun, when asked about the construction process. The installation was a communal effort that took only two days, with many materials sourced from the homes of Mason team members and the studio’s own backyard—including soil, moss and plants which are indeed alive, healthy and growing.

studio space installation

Aligned with the launch of Mason Studio’s new community hub, Refuge in the Sky debuted to a curious group of clients, colleagues, collaborators and friends last month. Today, it continues to impact the space in profound ways, inspiring how design is used to create natural points of congregation and commemorating the role environment plays in the studio’s evolving practice. MASONSTUDIO.COM


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