More Than Meets The Runway: Koolhaas’s Prada Transformer


[image via Prada Transformer website]

A oddly malformed pavilion-like object stands next to the 16th-century Gyeonghui Palace in Seoul, Korea. What is it exactly? Whatever you need it to be. Composed of four uniquely-shaped sides—hexagon, cross, rectangle, and square—the Prada Transformer is another in a long list of collaborations between the famed Italian designer and arguably equally famed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. While the structure may epitomizes Koolhaas’ penchant for cross programming, the tetrahedronal pavilion does not “transform” autonomously – much to the chagrin of fans of a certain 80’s robot cartoon series, I’m sure. Instead, the pavilion will “transform” with the assistance of cranes, as shown in time-lapse videos on the official Prada Transformer website. Starting tomorrow, April 25th, the convertible construct will host a variety of events that transcend both fashion and architecture. “What was also important is that, for the first time, Prada gave up on the idea that all the activities should be separate,” said Koolhaas in Interview Magazine. Continue reading “More Than Meets The Runway: Koolhaas’s Prada Transformer”

Fashion, Architecture, Taste?

No, not them. Today we’re looking at two recent fashion shoots that use high-profile, recently restored architectural works as set pieces. On the right, a fashion shoot from last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. The photographs were taken at FLW’s recently restored Hollyhock House in Los Angeles. And in case you’re wondering: Alexander McQueen (Life Without Buildings loves Alexander McQueen) cashmere coat, $2,165, dress shirt, $565, Prince of Wales check pants, $695, and tie. At Alexander McQueen, Neil Barrett gloves. On the left, a Men’s Vogue photoshoot that surprisingly features real architects. The photos accompany a brief article featured in the July/August issue describing a visit to the house with several of the countries top architects, then the pretty ones are photographed on the property. In the above photo, Hani Rashid and Anner Couture, the glossy principles of Asymptote, strikingly ponder the contemporary significance of Philip Johnson’s newly-opened Glass House. On Rashid: Prada suit, $2,350, and shirt, $385. Fratelli Rossetti shoes. On Couture: Lanvin dress. Pierre Hardy shoes. Roger Vivier bracelet.Even though it can sometimes be glossy and superficial, I’ve recently become increasingly interested it he relationship between fashion and architecture. A lot of this has to do with the absolutely incredible, Skin + Bones, an exhibition that i recently saw in Tokyo, but was previously shown at the MOCA, Los Angeles. Alas, those thoughts will have to wait for another post.

umm…Architasion? Fashitecture?

Fashion & Architecture (not like this) is everywhere these days. It’s the hottest coupling since Brangelina (sans cool combo-name) and it’s offspring will be even more beautiful than the fruit of their super-loins. (only not really)

In New York, the AIA is featuring the somewhat redundantly titled “The Fashion of Architecture: Constructing the Architecture of Fashion.”

Architecture is making its presence felt in fashion as the pliable metals, membrane structures, lightweight glasses and flexible plastics used in building construction are creeping on to the catwalks. At the same time, architects and interior designers are borrowing the techniques of pleating and draping from traditional tailoring to design buildings that are interactive, inflatable, and even portable. The exhibition features projects from architects such as David Adjaye, Shigeru Ban, Winka Dubbeldam, Zaha Hadid, … while showcasing architectonic apparel from fashion mavericks such as Hussein Chalayan, Yoshiki Hishinuma, Kei Kegami, …

The exhibition will be divided into seven themes, one of which – “social spaces” – will focus on the work of artist Lucy Orta. Her work “pioneers new potentials for interior environments and outdoor structures” while poetically commenting on urban life and inter-personal relationships. In another portion of the ongoing event, Mark Wigley, dean of the graduate school of architecture at Columbia University, is planning a runway show during New York Fashion Week, which will highlight high-performance materials and the more structural aspects of fashion.

Speaking of Lucy Orta, We-make-money-not-art” is featuring some similar “wearable architectures” from Takehiko Sanada:

This work is a personalized house (which signifies body) that protects the identity and life of an individual. It can be set on the floor using ropes or poles. By dismantling the coat and opening the front to create a flat surface, a new work can be separately constructed from it. Two individuals who own these prefab coats can meet, join the two pieces together by using the fastener attached to the hems of the coat, and create a coat house (skin/body) for two people. With five, ten, or twenty people, the pieces can be extended and expanded into a dome house (skin/body). This work represents how a diverse group of people from different regions can open their hearts to cover and embrace a new world.

I like that both Orta and Sanada focus on not only the aesthetic AND protective elements of “wearable architectures,” but also on the social – providing both physical, and the sometimes overlooked, pyschological relief.

The Fashion of Architecture is on view from January 11, 2006 to March 11, 2006 at the Center for Architecture – 536 LaGuardia Place