Z+O Interview

Z+O Interview

Transcript from video interview between videographer Tyler Hoff and Daniel J. Simoneit,
Principal Architect/Owner of Z+O Architecture + Interiors


TH:    Why did you decide to commission this project?

JS:    David actually approached me about helping him with a larger outdoor Skywall project he was working on for a couple different cities, but when I saw his video of the first indoor Skywall he had built at his house, I got excited and knew I had this window at the end of my conference room that was a view to nowhere, so I asked him if he could make the magic happen right there.

TH:    What do you like most about the Skywall?

JS:    I like so many things about it, it’s such a likable piece. Even if you catch it on what might be considered a “bad” day it’s just always good art. But I especially like that it is always different, always changing. The way the rain, the snow, the leaves dance across it, it just comes alive in many different ways, whether it’s the quality of light, or the type of clouds, or to see a storm front come through is amazing. It’s just a new experience every time I look at it. Plus my father was a pilot and there are days when I’m sitting in here and I feel like I’m at 32,000 feet, with the clouds just slowly cruising by. I love it.

I’ve been operating out of this room for 16 years, always sitting in this chair, and now that the Skywall is here, it has just totally changed this space. What was a north facing window with very little light and a view into an alley, to the back of a shoe store, has now turned into something incredibly dynamic. 

TH:    Have you seen anything unusual inside the aperture besides the sky?

JS:    There was this one day where an airplane went through that was incredibly low, I mean this was like a big DC-10 and the whole fuselage divided the aperture in half and the wings came through filling it side to side. It was like graphic art for a moment, and I was like, wow, did i just see that? Another day there was a migration of birds that were going by and there were thousands of them. They were just black on a white-sky background and looked like they were going vertically up the wall and I couldn’t help but ask myself “what am I even looking at?” And it just continued for a good minute and I just sat back and enjoyed it.

And of course when the mirror is at a certain angle the reflection of the peak of the roof going out in front of you literally looks like the prow of a ship cutting through the mist as the clouds are moving past. It’s just magical. 

TH:    What are some of your favorite reactions from visitors? 

JS:    They run the gamut. There’s usually the first shock or surprise of “what am I looking at?” or “what is that?” You can see the puzzlement on their faces. I’ve had clients think it was a projection or some kind of digital image, which has always been fun to then press the button and reveal the magic to them.

This one family brings their little girl in and she is just totally enamored by it and loves to sit there in front of it with her legs crossed while she colors. Boys usually want to crawl through it and jump into the sky, because it’s so inviting. Whereas adults will either just stand there soaking in the mystery or they will immediately walk up to it and try to figure out how it all works. 

Once people understand what’s going on, then it’s fun to see how they react over the hour or so they are sitting here. It’s refreshing to see even the most serious businessmen point in the middle of a meeting and exclaim “did you see that?!” 

TH:    It was interesting for me because when I was here overnight filming the time-lapse, I was just sitting here alone staring out and the stars were literally rotating past–and I had brought other work to do, and yet I just ended up sitting behind my camera staring out all night–maybe because it is just always changing, but I just found it deeply introspective, there was this emotional response to it. You’re looking out, but for some reason you look in.  

JS:    There is something uplifting and almost spiritual about the piece. I will come down here early to read and do some prep work or just have some alone time, and there is something nice about doing that when heaven is right there in front of your face. It’s an awesome feeling... to the point where, I’m getting emotional about it. (pauses) It just gives me peace...it gives me quiet. To sit here in silence and to be in awe and be still and reflect, it’s humbling....it puts me in a great place.

TH:    How do you see the Skywall benefitting or adding to your life?

JS:    Well, my life and daily schedule is pretty crazy, and that’s where being able to steal that time in the morning to come over here and open it up and have a little bit of time for myself, to turn the chair around and take that seat is just such a calming thing. It’s a great way to start a day instead of racing into it.

We walk the streets all day and get into the grind of things doing the 9-5, or whatever it is that preoccupies us, and we forget to stop and look up and see the beauty around us. Since the Skywall has been here, it’s forced me, as I’m driving down the road or taking the dog for a walk, to look up at things a little differently. So, it has had an impact on me. I realized I was always one of those guys that kept my head down grinding things out.

There’s also been a direct effect on this room and the clients. There can be some pretty stressful moments in here, hard decisions that need to be made, good and bad, and there’s something about having the Skywall here that puts a whole different presence on the room. Like I said, I’ve been here for 16 years, but things are different now. It seems to have taken a lot of the stress out the room. It’s just a calming presence. When the heavens are sitting right over to your left there isn’t really a whole lot to worry about.


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