Wednesday, 16 January 2013

when architecture and fashion unites: Rem Koolhaas & Prada

While watching Prada's latest men's show, I got distracted by the catwalk design and the furniture, which reminded me of the case study houses from the 50s I have showed you before.

Having a closer look on them, it appeared that they are designed by Rem Koolhaas' company AMO. The idea of the catwalk is according to the architect based on the inversion of the traditional catwalk configuration.The set is built around the perimeter of the audience, which is seated on an irregularly shaped central island. The audience faces an "ideal house": an interior populated with geometric furniture, objects and manifestations of everyday life. 

The set turned alive with the beginning of the show, as flocks of birds wheeled past the virtual windows and a Siamese cat ambled from screen to screen, through rooms, along windowsills while the models weave through this set, acting as characters in a sequence of sophisticated domestic scenes.

The abstract and geometric furniture are introduced by Rem Koolhaas as anticipations of the upcoming series designed by OMA for Knoll: a collection of 12 pieces of essential design and maximum adjustability in wood, metal and Plexiglas.


Having a closer look on the collaboration of Rem Koolhaas and Prada one stumbles over a variety of projects from 2000 till today. Besides the catwalk design, look books and fashion movies, Prada and OMA could realize some innovative shop concepts and work on a concept of a contemporary pop-upmuseum.

_the 24-Hour Museum, Paris 2012

For the 24-Hour Museum, AMO collaborated with Prada and artist Francesco Vezzoli to transform the 1937 Palais d'Iéna into the venue for a social and architectural laboratory, featuring an opening night party, public and press tours, and visits by schoolchildren. AMO designed the mise-en-scene of the modernist pavilion, by Auguste Perret, using the various spaces to stage - and interrogate - the three types of museums spaces that are predominant today. The result is an ephemeral "total museum" that hosts a sequence of rituals unfolding through the 24 hours.

the experimental/contemporary
a large pink neon cage turns the main space into a psychedelic concrete and metal nave. It hosts the majority of Vezzoli "statues" - foamboard classical figures with the faces of contemporary celebrities stuck on - and the gala dinner.

the classic/propagandistic
The curved concrete stair features a single centerpiece "statue" in front of three huge red curtains. For the cocktails.

the forgotten/storage
Inspired by inaccessible but precious museum archives, and located in a hidden part of the ground floor, this space - which AMO called the "Salon des Refusés" - is used as a small scale disco, accessible through a row of green velvet curtains.

_Prada New York, 2001

New York’s Prada Epicenter is an exclusive boutique, a public space, a gallery, a performance space, a laboratory and is a good example of OMA / AMO's  research into shopping which they claim is arguably the last remaining form of public activity, and a strategy to counteract and destabilize any received notion of what Prada is, does, or will become.

According to Rem Koolhaas theory, museums, libraries, airports, hospitals, and schools become increasingly indistinguishable from shopping centres, their adoption of retail for survival has unleashed an enormous wave of commercial entrapment that has transformed museum-goers, researchers, travelers, patients, and students into customers. The result is a deadening loss of variety. What were once distinct activities no longer retain the uniqueness that gave them richness. 

With his research of shopping environments, Rem Koolhaas wants to turn around this development and starts with the question: what if the equation were reversed, so that customers were no longer identified as consumers, but recognized as researchers, students, patients, museum-goers? What if the shopping experience were not one of impoverishment, but of enrichment?

The New York Prada Epicenter is a conversion of a 23,000 square-foot space in SoHo formerly belonging to the Guggenheim museum. The Wave – a curving space scooped out of the ground floor and opening it up to the basement – is the main element facilitating experimentation in what a fashion store can be. On one side, the slope has steps – ostensibly for displaying shoes and accessories – that can be used as a seating area, facing a stage that unfolds from the other side of the wave. The store thus becomes a venue for film screenings, performances, and lectures. 

The northern wall of the store runs uninterrupted between the entrances on Broadway and Mercer Street (which offer a new pedestrian link directly through the city block), and offers itself as a surface for a giant mural – the Prada wallpaper – that changes on a regular basis. The wallpaper defines a theme for an exhibition that infiltrates spaces throughout the store: videos on plasma screens hanging on railings between items of clothing, books piled next to shoes, interactive monitors.

Experimental technology, intriguing materials, and innovative display methods are utilized everywhere to enrich and transcend the shopping experience.

No comments: