See the inside of the first building ever designed by artist Thomas Demand, a quirky conference venue in the dunes of Denmark


German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand is known for creating unsettling hyper-realities and now he channels that vision into his first-ever building, a collaboration with Caruso St. John Architects.

Of course, Demand wasn’t just satisfied with an eye-catching structure. The artist has transformed three everyday objects – a piece of paper, a paper plate and an American soda jerk hat – into three livable spaces in the dunes of Denmark.

The building, titled the triple folly, is a total work of art that “merges different forms of art, design and craftsmanship into a cohesive whole,” according to a statement from Kvadrat, the high-end textile brand that commissioned it. The structure will serve as a hospitality and conference venue in the dunes surrounding the company’s headquarters in Ebeltoft.

An artist’s sketch for the soda jerk structure. Courtesy of Thomas demand.

The artist conceived the work after thinking about tents, a common human application of the types of goods Kvadrat makes. He later came to an image of a pavilion – a tent large enough to hold crowds and usually a sign of forthcoming festivities. The paper elements stem from Demand’s own practice of building cardboard and paper sculptures, then photographing and destroying them to explore the longevity of symbols.

Demand worked closely with the team at Caruso St. John, the same architecture firm that won the 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize for the design of the Newport Street Gallery and represented the UK at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. In addition to collaborating to evoke everyday paper objects on a monumental scale, the team also designed interior details, including finishes, furniture and even the door handles.

Thomas Demand with a textile work by Rosemarie Trockel. Photo by Nic Tenwiggenhorn.

Ultimately, Demand and his associates transformed the legal paper into “a faded, yellow-and-black lined, folded ‘sheet of paper’ of translucent fiberglass” that will serve as the meeting room at Kvadrat’s headquarters, the statement said.

They also translated the paper plate into fiberglass, creating “a shaped sheet supported by thin pillars over a cylindrical volume” to house a kitchen and dining area. “Each volume has its own entrance, leaving visitors free to experience the dialogue between art and architecture at their leisure.”

The Triple Folly by Thomas Demand at Kvadrat headquarters in Ebeltoft, 2022. Photo by Nic Tenwiggenhorn.

The Soda Jerk Hat is “an elliptical volume [a] welded fiberglass panel that rises from the coastal landscape.” The hat not only offers living space, but also serves as a canopy for a textile work by Rosemarie Trockel with the title Yes but, which gives the room an acoustic coziness. (Kvadrat has owned the Trockel works since 2006.)

Demand’s collaboration with the company brings together Olafur Eliasson and Roman Signer’s installations on a sandbar overlooking the sea.

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