Challenging Convention – Zittel’s Desert Project
Here at the HSA, we want to celebrate design and showcase the impact interior design has on our lives. We think this project is a fantastic reflection on interiors and introduces some interesting thoughts for the future of design.
Despite moving to the desert to be alone, artist Andrea Zittel’s pre-occupation with self-efficiency has led her to become involved in many social projects.
Zittel’s ‘A-Z Wagon Stations’ located in the California desert are a comment on contemporary living and the scope of our freedoms. The wagon stations or ‘pods’ use a frontier mentality and the landscape of the ‘wild west’ with its promises of freedom to encourage critique of modern society but also to promote sustainable living.
The stations, which can now be rented for nightly stays, are minimalist dwellings that focus on the simplicity of everyday life, cooking, eating, and sleeping. The customisable elements of the structures encourage visitors to take inspiration from their surroundings and embrace the meditative quality of the experiment.
The wagon stations as mobile entities prompt questioning of design and address the functionality of the home. Zittel describes the stations as providing ‘small liberties’. In a society that is perhaps more liberated than ever, the project zeros in on intimacies of personal freedom, that allow people to feel truly free of social convention.
Nineteenth and twentieth-century housing designs sought to have a civilising effect, the vast architectural differences the wagons have - primarily small and with basic amenities, challenge this notion as well as demonstrating the benefits resisting interiors conventions. Those who visit often seek a sense of escapism, are able to fulfil their fantasies in this experiment, often considered an exhibition outside the gallery.