Watermill Center: Museum and Interdisciplinary Laboratory for the Arts and Humanities

Watermill Center: Museum and Interdisciplinary Laboratory for the Arts and Humanities


The Watermill Center is a wondrous world. It was founded in 1992 by stage director, playwright and visual artist, Robert Wilson. With a degree in Architecture from Pratt Institute  and enormous talents in painting, sculpting, furniture and lighting design, he is a genius in many arenas.




He has been described as a pioneer in the art world who has changed the way we look at theater, art and design. Here is a classic example of Robert Wilson’s unique approach and extraordinary vision.

When Robert Wilson sent his ‘shopping list’ for the contents of his installation for the Isamu Noguchi: Scultpural Design exhibition at the Design Museum in summer 2001, it included: nine tons of silver sand; six tons of black lava sand; numerous sacks of broken glass; scores of aluminium squares; several dozen of bales of fireproofed straw; and enough loose hay to build a haystack.

The result was a sensational sequence of galleries: one shrouded in darkness, the next brightly illuminated, followed by stepping stones tripping across an elegantly raked sea of sand and the icy white set elements from Martha Graham’s 1944 Herodiade standing in a lake of shattered glass.

It was an extraordinary tribute to the work of Isamu Noguchi, the American-Japanese designer-sculptor whom Wilson had befriended in the 1960s and 1970s while making his name as a promising young theatre director and designer in New York.


Isamu Noguchi Installation by Robert Wilson

Isamu Noguchi Installation by Robert Wilson

The Watermill Center describes themselves as an interdisciplinary laboratory for the arts and humanities. They also are loosely, a museum. The Watermill Collection of over 7,000 art and artifact pieces spanning the history of humankind is integrated into all aspects of the building and grounds as a reminder that the history of each civilization is told by its artists.

One of the artists is Robert Wilson himself. When you visit the museum you will see some of the chairs he has designed. As of 2011 the collection of chairs numbered 1,000, including his designs and many international classics.

The center is set up as a laboratory for the arts and humanities to support the work of emerging artists. Watermill is a global community living and working together among the extensive collection of art and artifacts. If you are fortunate enough to be accepted into the Residency Program, then this is what you have access to: in Wilson’s words, “I maintain the space and allow others to interface with it, change it, and develop their own work in an aesthetic that can be completely different from my own.”


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Two Tourists


In conclusion we quote Robert Wilson from a story in Artspace , A Place Where We Ask Questions

When I was a student, I was assigned to design a city in three minutes. I handed in a drawing of an apple with a crystal cube in the center. When asked, I explained that it was my idea for a city—that our communities need centers like the crystal cube that can reflect the universe, the same way the cathedral was the center in a medieval village. It was the tallest building, the place where people congregated to exchange ideas; where artists showed their work; and where people came for contemplation and spiritual growth.

Watermill is such a center: a place where we ask questions. We must always ask, “What is it?” But we must not say what it is—for if we know what we are doing, there is no reason to do it.

I share Watermill with artists who are doing what no one else is doing. They continue to inspire me year after year.  Robert Wilson








Toyo Ito 2013’s Pritzker Prize Recipient

Toyo Ito 2013’s Pritzker Prize Recipient

This month we have a guest, Charu Gureja, from the blog, Pocket Full of Design.
Charu worked as an interior designer, and lighting designer for several years in Singapore, and now lives in San Francisco.  She is passionate about interior spaces, architecture, furniture, lighting and art. Her unique point of view has evolved through her years spent in countries such as Egypt, Japan, Sri Lanka, India and Singapore.

01, April 2013
“I’m thrilled to dedicate this post to Toyo Ito who recently received the Pritzker Prize for his architectural contributions spanning four decades! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the award, it’s basically the Nobel Prize for the field of architecture :-) .

I could hardly curb my enthusiasm when I heard of this announcement as Toyo Ito’s works were a source of great inspiration to me as a design student. His pursuit of beauty through simple and timeless designs still inspires me and I strive to achieve that in my own work. His works range from designing cups and saucers, mobile dog homes to multi story buildings!

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite Toyo Ito designs:



Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2002 in London, UK [via archdaily]:



Mobile Home for Shiba [via Architecture for Dogs] – Do check out the adorable video on how this home was created on the website!


Ripples Bench for Horm (created using 5 layers of these solid woods: Walnut, mahogany, cherry, oak and ash):




What do you guys think of his work? Has he rightly earned his place in the Pritzker hall of fame along with I.M. Pei, Richard Meier, Frank Gehry, Tadao Ando and the likes?”

Please visit Charu Gureja at Pocket Full of Designs where she discusses topics such as interior design, lighting, and architecture.