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Sam Buxton
Inhale, Exhale, 2010

London-based designer Sam Buxton explores the possibilities of new technologies and materials in the service of works that reinterpret everyday objects and environments, emphasizing their component parts for renewed scrutiny. For Buxton, the city is a networked data-scape in which we plug in and out depending on the activities we are assuming at any one time. In Standing (2010), a pair of staircases expertly manufactured from acid-etched steel resembles the types of fire-exits in tall buildings, and yet appear to go nowhere—the only impression of human presence is a break in the wall at the top as if someone has forced an exit. A corresponding work, made the same year, and titled Inhale, Exhale is more complex and features a myriad of staircases grouped together in a block that is approximately five feet high and three-and-a-half feet in width. This piece is also unsettling in its failure to provide the sense of escape that one expects from such stairs. Like much of Buxton’s work, the piece is meant to be read metaphorically as a multilayered narrative relating to daily life. Buxton has offered this explanation of Inhale, Exhale:

Every stair begins at the base and emerges onto the open surface, the entirety is therefore interconnected. I wanted to juxtapose familiarity and presumed purpose with a claustrophobic density, a structure that can only be briefly escaped, that ultimately only leads to an inevitable re-immersion.

By creating a strong vocabulary of forms that are both familiar and unfamiliar, Buxton prompts viewers to contemplate their own relationships with the spaces and objects.


Sam Buxton. Inhale, exhale, 2010. Funds provided by the Architecture & Design Society.