Art + Culture

Q+A: Olga Fedorova of Usagi

Usagi is a 2,800 sq ft cultural hub that houses a cafe, gallery, and library.   Creative work from a variety of diverse fields are displayed throughout the gallery to provide a unique thought-provoking experience.  We sat down with PR Director Olga Fedorova to learn more about this dynamic business.

 

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How was the concept formed?

The owner envisioned a place where people could experience art, literature, and food all in one location.  The idea was to create an immersive environment that would stimulate creative thinking and provide a common space for people to interact.  The food and drinks are inspired by the Japanese culinary scene.  The overall layout and art is also derived from contemporary Japanese tastes.  Usagi hasn’t been open for very long, but the community has responded very positively to our  unique concept.

 

Why did Usagi choose to locate in DUMBO?

We chose DUMBO because of its raw and edgy character.  Also the neighborhood is internationally well known and has a lively art scene that we felt would mesh well with our creative ambitions.

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How do you choose which person/group to highlight in the gallery?

We try to alternative between big well-known names from the cultural community and smaller emerging artists/creative thinkers.  We showcase artists, designers, architects, engineers, artisans, writers, musicians, etc.  We’re also trying to reach out to international brands as well.

Can you explain the background and development of Usagi’s interior space?

Usagi’s current layout was designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto.  Mr. Fjimoto is very well known in Japan, but this was his first work in America!  The installations throughout the gallery are very mobile, which allows them to be easily rearranged for new exhibits and gives more freedom for artists to express themselves.  We’re actually planning to create a whole new gallery exhibit called “Identity,” an immersive site-specific digital/analog installation by Brooklyn-based artist Alana Abiel.  The gallery will utilize projection mapping techniques with multidisciplinary performances that include spoken word, experimental music, and contemporary dance.  The tentative start date is late March.

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What is the current exhibit “Brooklyn in Process” about?

This exhibit is brought to us by Marvel Architects and displays seven projects from unconventional perspectives.  Ranging from far-off aerial views of buildings to intimate sketches of design schemes that were never realized.  The exhibit rejects the traditional presentations of architecture as static and finished.  Instead Marvel Architects tries to reveal the architectural process by reviewing a building’s conception, design, and construction.  The result is a collage of text, models, videos, and virtual reality that shows the changing dynamic of architecture.

What is the relationship between the cafe, gallery, and library?

All three are meant to compliment each other in order to provide a more relaxing and inspirational atmosphere.  For example, we believe food can be a form of expression and art, which is why everything we serve is meticulously displayed a certain way.  The library collection includes books about design, architecture, photography, history of art, etc.  All of these ideas provide background information on the pieces displayed in the gallery.

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What is your favorite spot in DUMBO?

I have several!  The Powerhouse Arena, P.S. Bookshop, and Berl’s Poetry Shop.