Architect Brian Ripel and artist Jean Shin have put a spin on the idea of a coffee break with their installation “Retreat.” The collaborative structure was made from over 250,000 red plastic coffee stirrers, once used to stir the hot beverages offered in the shade of the shelter. The installation is pitched on the roof of the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, offering visitors a shaded area to enjoy the views and a spot of tea.
The next time you stir some honey in your tea or sugar in your coffee, think about the endless possibilities of the stirrer in your grip. Gathered together like strands of hay, the red stirrers take on a straw-like texture, evoking historic thatched roofs as well as the artificial grass found at a touristy Tiki hut. Built over three months, the ruby red canopy is made up of stirrer “shingles” that range from 12 to 24 inches. The shingles are sewn together to form the prickly surface, supported by an aluminum frame. The plastic naturally deflects rain, leaving visitors dry on rainy days.
Retreat was inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond escape, which is located near the site. The design of the peaked roofs reference Thoreau’s cabin, as well as the gabled peaks of the local architecture. Inside the shelter, a bench and tea counter was made from repurposed lumber. Guests can help themselves to fresh tea, but they are asked to save their tea bags, which will be repurposed into traditional hanging chain models for a continuation of “Retreat” that will be featured inside the museum for the remainder of the year.