New York-based Snarkitecture turns stone into interactive artworks.

You’ve probably never stopped to consider the interactive function of the humble kitchen island. Maybe you’ve wished yours was bigger or that it had a built-in butcher block; maybe you’ve cursed your children for covering it in peanut butter after an ill-fated attempt at making their own lunches.But the New York-based designers behind Snarkitecture really gave this kitchen centrepiece fresh consideration when Caesarstone approached them to produce the third instalment of its Altered States series at Interior Design Show Vancouver.”The idea was to look at the kitchen island and look at material in a way that simplified it—not approaching as top or cladding, but as a volume,” says Alex Mustonen, one of Snarkitecture’s three partners.“We want to make architecture perform the unexpected,” adds his co-founder, Ben Porto. For the display, Snarkitecture explored the ideas of “changing states” of water with a trio of quartz structures. “It’s less of a design object and more of a physical experience,” Mustonen explains. “We wanted to create these unexpected, memorable things.”The structures—named Ice Island, Water Island, and Steam Island—each represent the natural topography of water with Caesarstone’s new industrial-cool Metropolitan collection, which celebrates the kitchen island’s central role in the home for technology, performance and hosting. “Water is such a primal element,” says Porto. “With the ice, the water and the steam, there’s a tactile, meaningful experience.” Alex Mustonen (left) and Ben Porto with their Ice Island creation.Islands often have to play many roles: the dining prep, the homework station. So Snarkitecture wanted to force just one activity to happen with a practically useless design—with no flat surface, no electrical outlets, no drawers, the island becomes exclusively a spot for gathering. “It’s like a fireplace—you can sit with the family and just that one thing is happening,” says Porto. “It’s a hard thing to remember that not everything has to be pugged in all the time.”As part of the installation, Snarkitecture also crafted amphitheatre seating out of quartz-topped wire stools, a nod to the central role the kitchen plays in our lives. Perched up here, there’s a whole “voyeur of interaction watching other people,” says Mustonen—and an incentive to be hands-on to truly interact with and test the material. “We wanted to introduce moments that aren’t ‘don’t touch, don’t sit,’ but more like ‘please sit.”