From city master plans to pocket-sized products, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) have explored architectural formalism through innovative digital design methods. In 2006, the collaboration with furniture-makers and fashion houses led to the creation of Zaha Hadid Design that served both as an iterative process for and a resultant of ongoing architectural design.
A pop-up exhibition, located suitably on the ground floor of ZHA’s renowned condominium along the High Line in New York City, features a scale model of the building itself on display. To honor and present the work produced by the firm in the last four decades, the Zaha Hadid Gallery showcases a series of projects in a wide range of mediums including the six ‘Silver Models’ that represent eight of the firm’s key works.
Continuing the legacy of Hadid’s inventive methodologies and architectural vision, the exhibition highlights the fluidity and hyper-functional qualities of her style. In her retrospective exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in 2006, Zaha stated:
“My product designs and architecture have always been connected. Some of our earliest projects were designs for products and interiors. These design pieces are very important to me and my team. They inspire our creativity by providing an opportunity to express our ideas through different scales and through different media; an essential part of our on-going design investigation.”
Initially intended for the ‘Silver Paintings’ exhibition at the ROVE Gallery in London in 2005, the Silver Model sculptures capture the abstract concepts behind the physical form of the realized buildings. Tinkering with different materials and technologies, Zaha Hadid Design’s more recent collaborations are also on display, such as the Striation rug from the Royal Thai collection as well as the AVIA chandeliers for Slamp. Both the works embody the multi-dimensional layering strategies to emphasize light and shadow unique to Zaha.
Furthering the interest in fabrication tectonics, the exhibition features the Lapella chair, a reinterpretation of Hans J. Wenger’s 1963 lounge chair. This project spurred the investigation into generating geometries that are enabled by light-weight materials such as carbon fiber composites and result in efficient structural performance. The small-scale nature of these works permits a more dynamic research prerogative by the firm since product design isn’t bound by the same structural and contextual constraints that architecture must consider.
These inventive thinking-by-modeling strategies, adopted by many other contemporary firms as well, inform the possibilities of architectural design through experimentation. Art and architecture are intrinsically connected, as this exhibition depicts, and upon studying them together they can be used to reconfigure the conventional understanding of what abstract and built form is.
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