Riccardo Blumer Workshop with Claudia Scholz and Guido Desigis

Sentire l'aria (Feel the Air) is the culmination of a four day long site specific workshop at the MADWORKSHOP Foundation. Led by Riccardo Blumer with Claudia Scholz and Guido Desigis, design students from across Southern California participated in this one-of-a-kind educational experience.

Riccardo Blumer
Claudia Scholz
Guido Desigis
Fall 2018
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In his first public work since the Venice Architecture Biennale, director of the Accademia di architettura dell’Università della Svizzera Italiana a Mendriso Riccardo Blumer has once again collaborated with Mary and David Martin’s MADWORKSHOP. Blending pedagogy with performance, the work — ‘Sentire l’aria’ (in English, ‘Feel the Air’) — brought together architecture students from top design schools across the greater Los Angeles area to explore sound and movement in a site-specific work.

Over the course of a four-day workshop, Blumer and the students explored the mechanics of sound and the body as an engine for communication. The workshop saw participants carve wooden ‘rhombus’ objects, adapted from an ancient signaling system dating back to the Paleolithic era. When spun on lengths of string, these airfoil shapes release a low and repetitive sound. This sound is capable of travelling great distances and was used to communicate with those too far away to see. This ancient sound object’s simple and repetitive musical note suggests continuity, both through time and with one another. “When you use the rhombus,” says Blumer, “it gives you a feeling of serenity and peace. It is very nice to use.” The object also makes the user aware of their own body: “You understand how long your arm is,” Blumer continues, “you understand many physical things that produce this simple sound.”

The four-day workshop culminated in a new choreographed work at MADWORKSHOP’s new gallery space in LA, in which Blumer and students used their ‘rhombus’ objects in a hypnotic series of audible bodily movements.


Assistants: Sofia Boarino & Serena Costa

Workshop Participants:
Kevin Shapiro
Nahal Mohtashemi
Nick Morof
Alberto Altamirano
Lawrence Sanchez
Chieh-Ting (JT) Chuang
Abdullah Alsanea
Nidhi Parsana
Nathan Adams
Rinna Jiang
Burcu Yasemin Turkay
Kevin Clark
Ada Luchao Wang
Yiran Chen
Sakura Heffron


An avid promoter of experimental pedagogical methods that cross-pollinate with other disciplines, MADWORKSHOP Fellow Riccardo Blumer (b. 1959) graduated in Architecture from the Polytechnic University of Milan in 1982. He has received several awards for his designs, notably the Compasso d’Oro award for the ‘Laleggera’ chair, and today his designs can be found in the MoMA collection. In 1998, Blumer began teaching at Accademia di architettura dell’Università della Svizzera Italiana a Mendriso and, since 2006, the University of San Marino and the Internal Superior Institute of Indoor Architecture. He lives and works in Varese, Italy, where since 2017 he has been the director of Accademia di architettura dell’Università della Svizzera Italiana a Mendriso.