Research Task: Hybrid designers

Yolande Daniels is an American architect and educator, currently an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina’s school of Architecture. She is also co-founder of Studiosumo with offices in New York City and Los Angeles.

Once Daniels had setup her studio based practice she started to figure out how to look at things like race in the city, or gender and architecture. Joining forces with her business partner, Sunil Bald and after entering their projects into competitions, she had ideas of making things of her own to incorporate into spaces. Her practice is rooted in the idea of social and spatial construct and as most of her clients are institutions, her practice is mostly about research and design where it will have an impact on society.

Here is one of their designs, the Mizuta Museum of Art which houses a valuable Ukiyo-e collection, Japanese woodcut prints, that need a highly controlled and insulated environment because of the fragile nature of the prints.

Josai University, Mizuta Museum of Art
Studio SUMO · Mizuta Museum of Art
Studio SUMO · Mizuta Museum of Art
Fig. 1 – 4 Josai University, Mizuta Museum of Art

“Ukiyo-e” translates into “Pictures of the Floating World” as the prints often depicted famous actors, courtesans, or travel scenes meant to lift the viewer from the daily routine of his/her life. We were taken by this notion, which was architecturally translated into the floating tectonic of the cast-in-place structure that cradle the galleries over the information spaces. Additionally, the slots of light created by the façade that recall the graphic method of depicting rain found in many of the prints. (s.d. 2016)

The pre-cast panels were fabricated in a factory, creating two smooth finished surfaces that are exposed, the 1 feet wide slots of varying lengths create light slits that aerate the passages, placing the visitor in the ‘floating world’. This design reminds you that it’s important to understand the client and their needs, in this particular case they did this so well, taking care of the treasures but including designs such as the slots that depict the rain found in many of the prints.

Another of her designs is the Tea Cozy outdoor pavilion, made in 2010. It is cut sheet steel folded and cast in concrete seating, it responds to a demolished tearoom on the grounds of the former mansion and references tea fantasies from the peace and tranquility of the Japanese tea ceremony to the psychedelia of Alice in Wonderland’s tea party. Wild and wonderful thoughts led to an unusual design of white laser cut metal panels that mimic the flower design of the teahouse interior, a space to be with nature and enjoy a contemplative moment.

On Site: Yolande Daniels - Art Omi


(s.d. 2016) (accessed 17.7.21)


Fig. 1 – 4 Josai University, Mizuta Museum of Art (accessed 17.7.21)

Fig. 1 & 2 – Tea Cozy outdoor pavilion by Yolande Daniels (accessed 17.7.21)

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