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Snarkitecture Creates Styrofoam "Ice Cave" for Fashion It-Boy Richard Chai

An "ice cave" opened under New York's High Line yesterday. Designed by Snarkitecture as a pop-up shop for the fashion designer Richard Chai, it's carved from a whole tractor trailer of styrofoam, and it kinda reminds us of an avalanche-disaster scene — all snow and a mess of clothes — only tidier.

The shop came about after Snarkitecture — a youngish Brooklyn firm that, to judge by its Web site, doesn't exactly live up to its sassy name — won a design competition to build a temporary store for Chai as part of the Building Fashion project. "Richard wanted to create an experience rather than create a store," Snarkitecture's Alex Mustonen says. "The idea here is literally to fill the void of the form."

[image by David Smith]

Everything was built by hand. Mustonen and his partner Daniel Arsham sketched out their concept, made fabrication diagrams, then got to work carving the styrofoam themselves in their Brooklyn studio (with the help of about seven others). They cut shelves and tables and nooks for clothing hangers using two types of heated wire cutter, one straight, the other curved; each gave the foam a distinctive look.

"The amazing thing about the material is once it's all done," Mostonen says, "Richard can walk through there and say the shelves need to be deeper or wider, and it takes 10 seconds to run the wire through."

[Image by Faris Al-Shathir]

The shop's open until Oct. 31. For more info, visit Snarkitecture's Web site here. And to see a similar spectacle from Karl Lagerfield, see here.

[All images by Lexie Moreland, unless noted]