Bojána Bányász and Donatella Cusmá are co-founders of the architectural practice Claret-Cup. Both practicing architects Boja and Dona are contributing to the woman-made environment as much by drawing and building as by photographing, stitching, teaching, cooking and curating. Although from different corners of Europe, their paths crossed in Los Angeles, a city that they both fell in love with at different times for different reasons. Their collaboration is strongly defined by this connection to the city.
Map-á-Porter is Claret-Cup’s brain child, a project that links Boja and Dona’s passion for mapping the city and object making. They collect map content through participatory events and workshops, so the graphics reflect personal experiences of participants, not only their point of view. Boja and Dona are continuously expanding their list of neighborhoods offered and re-designing maps to incorporate new stories from users. The result is an ever-expanding series of active functional objects designed to spark conversations about cities and to give graphic form to a collective image of Los Angeles as a lived in and loved place.
Sometime in the 1990s, Donatella graduated from hand-painting T-shirts at Sicilian street-fairs to organizing “Shalarte: Containers for Young Artists”, an art-walk before the concept existed in Sicily. She paired shop owners of a neighborhood in Messina with poets, sculptors, fashion designers, painters and musicians for a temporary exhibition involving about young 30 artists. From then on, she was hooked on workshops: creating in collaboration with others while simultaneously learning and teaching about a place, an art form or a specific creative process. During/after her university studies, she began work with the Research Institute for Experimental Architecture (R.I.E.A), an international organization founded by Lebbeus Woods in 1989 that promotes architectural design through workshops, symposia and printed publications often dealing with areas of conflict and borders. This work has taken her from Sicily to other countries for adventures like exploring cross-border culverts between the United States and Mexico. As a resident of Los Angeles, she continues to look at architecture through all of her senses. In particular, Donatella has a passion for cooking and entertaining. In her culture the ritual of eating with family and friends constitutes the basis of social interaction.
In a parallel world, Bojána left Hungary and landed in the US on a full scholarship to Claremont College in 1995. Her love of travel has run through her way of experiencing everyday life and creative priorities. She has explored the LA metropolitan area on her motorcycle (1999-2002), her bicycle (2002-2005), on public transportation (2006-2007) in order to see the city unfold at different speeds than originally intended. In collaboration with classmates, she walked the entire lengths of Figueroa, Wilshire and Sunset Boulevards in 2003 and documented the length of 3rd street from East Los Angeles to Beverly Hills in an attempt to capture unique moments created by the changing social landscape. Bojána hitch-hiked across the United States as well as Europe in 1997. In 1998, she also spent 3 months as a photographer in India for the Hindu, the largest-circulation English newspaper in the country. Now Bojána lives and works as a licensed architect in Los Angeles. She is interested in creating work that enhances the purity of the here and now experience by ensuring total comfort of the person in space and by using techniques that reveal hidden information about the specific location.