Morphocode is an architecture and design studio founded in 2008 by Greta and Kiril. The two are best known for their architectural design software, which can be used alongside other architectural software applications. In Bulgaria, they work on interior design, while serving internationally as consultants on projects of varying scale – from interior design details to urban planning. Their output is characterized by nature-informed shapes, the use of new technology, attention to detail and a refusal to compromise. Greta and Kiril are goal-oriented and precise, with interests and achievements (listed on their website) which can bewilder the non-architect: cellular automata for walls, a multi-agent system study, a parametric gateway, biomimetics… On a more conventional note, they are the people behind the idea to repaint and refurbish the stylish bus stop outside the Diana swimming complex in Dianabad in Sofia (the one made of corrugated geometrical panels). [The repainting of the Dianabad bus stop was a joint initiative by Transformatori and Morphocode.] The interview below is an attempt to decode the duo’s complex and seemingly aloof work world. A worthwhile journey.
What does Morphocode mean – where does it come from?
It reflects our efforts to manage and control the flows of data which are an inevitable part of any architectural program. Architecture is a lot more than static spatial composition – it regulates a multitude of overlapping processes and fields of influence which operate behind the form. Which is why we usually work with organizational, not compositional models.
What does “advanced computational and parametric design” mean?
For us, it means using a number of digital tools and techniques that allow us to work faster and be more productive during the conceptual phase of our projects. More specifically, it helps us test a lot more ideas at the conceptual stage than we are able to with conventional methods. It is a very flexible method which at the same time guarantees a systematic approach. As Corbusier said: “There is no work of art without a system”. How beneficial such tools can be is a controversial issue, but we believe that good design depends on the objectivity of the decisions made, irrespective of the instruments used. At Morphocode, we try to make the most of contemporary technology, while remaining loyal to a relatively sparse formal language.
On this note, could you explain in plain language why RABBIT (“a custom plug-in for McNeel’s Grasshopper that uses biological processes as a formfinding and analysis tool”) is your best-known project?
RABBIT is simulation software which gives designers and architects an opportunity to analyze growth and organizational processes in nature and to use the outcomes in their work without imitating them literally. We’ve had a great international response to it, including from some of the most prestigious architectural schools in the world, such as the Architectural Association in London and the GSAPP at Columbia University. It was included as part of various courses at the University of Weimar and the New Jersey Institute of Technology; it was used in a workshop at SAC – Frankfurt, among other places. This interest is very gratifying and motivates us to continue working in the same direction.
Describe your typical work day.
Our work day begins with a cup of coffee and a short discussion of the tasks ahead of us. In our office we have a work table, loads of books, a Pantone chair, and a big whiteboard with different colored markers. Our favorite objects are a set of Alessi coffee cups designed by SANAA and some Moleskin notebooks.
What was your latest travel destination?
We were last in Frankfurt, on invitation from Ben van Berkel – one of the biggest names in contemporary architecture – to give a lecture and conduct a three-day workshop at the Stаdelschule. It was a very intense and interesting week.
What are your dreams for the near future?
Our main priority at the moment is completing our Zima series. We are also about to release a new version of RABBIT. We’ve been working on it for a long time now. The launch will be accompanied by a series of webinars and also possibly live workshops to demonstrate its full capabilities. At the beginning of next year, we’ve been invited to give a lecture and lead a workshop for students in the master’s program for digital technologies at IUAV – the architectural school in Venice. We are also working on a few entries for architectural competitions and an installation.
Tell us a little more about your Zima home series.
Zima, which we recently presented on our website, is our first series of home products. The design is inspired by the processes of self-organization which can be observed in nature – the interaction of analogous components following simple rules often leads to unexpected final outcomes. In our case, the process starts with a single cell and leads to stable growth, eventually generating the Zima form. At this point, we are thinking of a limited series and a limited number of objects: a coaster; a tray; a glass; and a fruit bowl. We’ve already prototyped some of the products and are testing different materials for the rest of them. We are hoping to complete the Zima series by the end of the year.
Tea or coffee?
Coffee + a favorite quote:
“We have morphological events,
wherein the secrets of change
become visible and plain,
returning to us the pure
Mystery of play.”
New Atlantis II (quoted by L. Woods)
text by Adriana Andreeva
translation by Boris Deliradev