At its heart is a five-acre lake that, like all of Woltz’s interventions, is as practical as it is beautiful, in this case capturing and filtering rainwater for irrigation. The clearings are surrounded by an elliptical track that acts as a guiding device. “If you’re on the oval and the track bends slightly, you’ll know you’re on one of the long sides,” says Woltz. “If the curve is very sharp, you know you’re on one end.” “I think when you know where you are, your soul can open up to the natural environment,” Woltz says. more easily.”

Houstonians aren’t the only ones returning to this abandoned green space. “The garden is so full of insects and birds calling at night that friends send me recordings,” says Woltz.

One to watch: Designer Kim Mupangilaï discovers her roots in a bold foray into furniture

Kim Mupangilai in her Brooklyn home with some new pieces of furniture and old carved wood sculptures.
Photo: Gabriel Flores

“They’re supposed to look like they’re dancing,” says Kim Mupangilai, contemplating the eight works in her inaugural solo exhibition at Superhouse Gallery in Manhattan last summer. Unveiled in a glass-like space on the second floor of a Chinatown shopping mall, its furnishings have a strange anthropomorphic energy. The curvy seat wears a banana fiber swing skirt. The wheel seems to be trampled by its high-heeled foot; And a gorgeous floor lamp featuring a shade modeled after a pre-colonial Congolese hairstyle. Their surreal silhouettes may be reminiscent of the works of Antoni Gaudí, Philippe Hicelli, or Joan Miró, which were made at a time when many creatives were mining colonial Africa for inspiration. But Mubangilai’s pieces, which she describes as “cross-cultural self-portraits,” chart new ground, mixing visual references she inherited from her Congolese father with carpentry techniques she learned from her Belgian maternal grandfather.

Mupangilai’s parents met themselves dancing salsa in Antwerp, where they later raised their daughter. Mupangilai studied interior design and architecture in Belgium before moving to New York in 2018, where she began designing private residences and hospitality locations such as Ponyboy Bar in Brooklyn. During the pandemic, as she took a deeper look at her ethnic heritage, she turned her attention to visualizing furniture. As she leafed through African history books, she became interested in carved forms of currency symbols, such as bracelets, cooking utensils, or weapons that were used for trade or to commemorate life events. Versions of it soon filled her sketchbooks. “I felt like I was creating a new language,” she says of the shapes she twisted, transformed and incorporated, like building blocks, into the furniture. For example, the daybed’s profile mimics a knife throw. The armoire is inspired by a warrior’s armor.

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