Creating art amid a pandemic can be inspiring, harrowing, frenetic, and calming at once. However, much like human existence on earth, the show must go on, and we, as forbearers of civilization, must attempt to find hope amid destruction. Renowned architect Vito Acconci once proclaimed:
“Architecture is not about space, but about time.”
As the pandemic has hampered our ability to move through spaces, time, especially memory, has served as a source of consolation for architects and artists. Great designers, who often hail from the best architecture universities consider the impact that their work has on human lives. In this piece, we explore places of memory that served 5 renowned architects to further their work and vision.
Philippe Starck | The Earth
Yes, you read that right – the earth can be an abstract concept to grasp, as one often forgets that it is a “place” that houses the entirety of life. The earth can be compared to a building, wherein different parts function in various ways for providing sustenance. Philippe Starck considers himself a global citizen, spending his time working closely with nature – in the midst of nowhere, in dense forests, in dunes, and so on. Starck’s greatest passion is water conservation, which, if not rallied for, would turn the earth into a distant memory.
This zeal to save water is reflected in his designs, the most prominent of which is a transparent faucet that seems to represent the absolute minimum, almost invisible, the miracle of the vortex.
Jean-Marie Massaud | Japan
Following the trend of western designers heavily influenced by Japan, Massaud honours the Japanese civilization due to its century-long tradition of aesthetic thinking. For Massaud, the beauty of Japan is tied intricately to the recesses of his own memory, 15 years prior, in a wood temple cradled deep within a forest outside Kyoto, Massaud had asked his partner to marry him – and later got married in the same building. The memory of the rain-drenched afternoon haunts him to this day, as the beauty of the earth, for Massaud, eclipsed the beauty of personal associations to a certain place.
Andreas Diefenbach | The Taiga
Diefenbach’s fondest place of memory exists solely in his imagination – he has never ventured inside the taiga or boreal forest but grew up hearing stories about the place from his uncle, who resided new Lake Baikal in Siberia. He has been fascinated with the idea of ice fishing and mushroom scavenging since a child in this frozen landscape.
Students hailing from the top architecture colleges in India are taught the integral importance of imagination in the field. This becomes a sole source of inspiration for Diefenbach, which he uses to evoke visions that symbolize warmth, familiarity, and ancestry.
Antonio Citterio | The Engadine Valley, Switzerland
Citterio’s practice is based in Milan, which is an avant-garde metropolis that holds the potential to provide inspiration for a professional designer. While he is in love with what the city ha to offer, Citterio cannot help but pine for St. Moritz, his second home. The mountains of Switzerland’s Engadine Valley characterize a natural beauty like no other, with its mirrored lakes, humongous mountains, and bright orange larch forests.
Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby | Holy Island, Wales
Having been at the forefront of industrial design in Britain for decades, Barber and Osgerby fondly remember Holy Island, famous for its temperamental weather, tides, and fierce storms. This fickle, almost human-like quality of this island is what attracts the dynamic duo, who incorporate this metaphor of upheaval and calm in their own creative process.
As designers or architects, it is your prime directive to merge imagination into reality, into buildings and structures that strike a chord with memory, merging nostalgia and awe of witnessing something one has never imagined. We hope that our young architects can draw inspiration from these five designers, and their own memories, which can pave the way to a world that is beautiful, yet familiar.