Materials & Applications (M&A) is a Los Angeles-based non-profit cultural organization dedicated to exploring the role of architecture in the public sphere through critical exhibitions and programs. Since 2003, M&A has produced more than 20 temporary site-specific installations and over 100 programs exploring new ideas in art, architecture, and design. Our exhibitions and programs are always free and open to the public.
Materials & Applications' mission is to advance critical ideas about architecture through temporary outdoor installations and public programs, in order to investigate the visible and invisible role architecture plays in our city today. Our definition of architecture is not limited to the building or the built environment, but encompasses a wide array of tools, text, software, materials, policies, and economies.
M&A is dedicated to producing public works that give space to exceptional experiments across multiple disciplines, while challenging the relationship between art, architecture, and public encounters. We aspire to increase public participation in the built environment by inspiring interest in visitors with their surroundings - while they explore the latest ideas in art and architecture at a critical and experiential level.
Our exhibitions and programs are driven by the issues and conversations most relevant to the city today, and are designed to be publicly engaging and accessible. We always initiate our projects with an idea or an inquiry and proceed from there. We develop our exhibitions and programs in collaboration with invited artists and architects through sustained conversations about formats, event types, selection of artists and architect teams, financing, schedule, and production.
Since 2003, we have produced over twenty site-specific installations embedded in the residential landscape of Los Angeles. We take underutilized space in the city and transform them into temporary pocket parks through the commissioning of new public art and architecture. We invite the public to participate in the construction of our projects in the form of participatory building workshops.
Past projects include a temporary mini-golf project, a golden vortex in Silver Lake, a dance party in a giant bird cage, a conversation on how buildings can own themselves, a cake-off, a publication launch party, an instructional performance on urban hideouts, an investigation into zoning and its applications, a reading group on the picturesque, and a one-day foam environment installation.
All our projects are not-for-profit and we aspire to present them for free. Very rarely, we will solicit donations as entry.
We are a small operating team, which allows us to be flexible and agile in developing our public programs, but also limits our ability to take on most projects that come our way. Almost all our projects require one to two years of planning, and we prefer to develop our work slowly rather than output intensely.
We love to collaborate. It is of special importance that we develop ideas jointly with our partners, and create dialogue between our organizations, partnering artists or organizations, outside experts, and our audiences. Our past institutional partners include Armory Center for the Arts, Cal State Long Beach Art Museum, Getty Pacific Standard Time, Mak Center for Art and Architecture, LA Forum for Architecture, Neutra VDL House, Council for Watershed Health, the Los Angeles Poverty Department, Common Field, Human Resources, Women’s Center for Creative Work, and 2426 Set amongst others.
Materials & Applications was founded in 2003 as a collaborative space for experimentation and research in the parking lot of a Los Angeles home. The core team was composed of Jenna Didier and Oliver Hess, with important contributions from Bruch Chan and Brian Janescko. Propelled by a community of artists, architects, and designers, Materials & Applications remains one of the only independent spaces for art and architecture in Los Angeles that is dedicated to foregrounding contemporary ideas through one-to-one architecture.
From 2003-2014, Materials & Applications was based in our Silver Lake courtyard. Today, our projects are itinerant and take place in landscapes, sites, and spaces throughout Los Angeles. Since 2015, M&A has been helmed by Jia Gu (Director) with a generous team of part-time staff and volunteers, and support from the Board of Directors and the Contemporary Council of M&A.