What else can a box be?

I’ve never been interested in the box as just a box. I’ve always wondered how it could engage you beyond just being a container. After three years and a hundred puzzle boxes designs, I thought to myself, “There’s got to be more to a box than trying to keep people out of it.” Then something came along to help me find my way out of the confines of my own box: cyanoacrylate, or in plainer terms, Crazy Glue. This glue, in its more viscous versions designed for woodworkers, made it possible to bypass clamping, which confines one to  a 90-degree construction. It opened up the world of angles.

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My first explorations were about balance and composition: boxes made of shapes angled together in a way that the ensemble seemed to defy gravity or be about to fall over. I guess I was still trying to put my viewer on edge. But I began to have fun trying out improbable assemblages that made you wonder how they held together or stood up. My most ambitious composition was called “Carmen Miranda”, inspired by that woman’s amazing cornucopic headwear, but the demands of gravity proved too much for it.


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My next explorations might have been titled “What happened to this box?” – a box that looked like it had had wedge taken out of it, or had been split in two, or was passing through a solid barrier, or had already been opened up, or had run into a low bridge, or whose top had started to warp. Could a box strike you as funny, make you chuckle?



This led me to thinking of the box as a body – how could a box suggest the human body and maybe call forth a subtle, visceral response? Using the proportions and angles of the human body, could I make a box suggest an attitude or an emotion, even evoke a sympathetic connection? So I made a shy box, a bold box, a drunken box, a wounded box. I paired bodies and made a mother and daughter box, a dancing couple box. Instead of starting with geometric shapes and refining them to a fully rounded human figure, I went in the reverse direction. Starting with iconic sculpture, I took the David or the Venus de Milo and ended up with a box of geometric shapes – an odd journey I admit.


I went on in following years to explore other box possibilities – I won’t enumerate them all – but settled finally, in the last ten years, into the evocative possibilities of architecture. Looking back, I realize now that the fascination for me has always been trying to answer the questions, “What else can a box be? What more can it contain?”