Posts tagged with "Prada":

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Prada Marfa’s immigrant architecture is more relevant than ever

This article is the last in a series that originally appeared in AN’s July/August 2018 issue which focuses exclusively on Texas and was guest edited by AGENCY. The essays examine architecture and practice across the southern border of the United States. Political Context Prada Marfa is a building born out of the political tensions arising in post-9/11 America, in which Afghanistan, Iraq, and Mexico become scapegoats. In 2003, a United States-led coalition invaded Iraq, beginning an eight-year war, and in 2005, Duncan Hunter, who at the time was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, called for the construction of a wall along the entire border between the U.S. and Mexico. This led to his amendment to the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, which called for 698 miles of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. This paved the way for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which President George W. Bush signed to “help protect the American people” from several purported threats, but primarily terrorism, which was the major focus of the era’s political rhetoric. Borderlands Architecture Prada Marfa is constructed out of traditional adobe bricks which have long been used in the region but are frequently perceived as an inferior material despite their ecological and climatological responsiveness. Adobe bricks provide the foundation for the oldest extant buildings in the region, as well as many of the area’s most important cultural and heritage sites, including artist Donald Judd’s own Block compound in Marfa. Directly referencing Judd and the military building traditions he emulated, the adobe bricks are intentionally set in a cement-based mortar. Judd recognized that this was the technique employed in the construction of barracks, hangars, and forts in the region, and Prada Marfa is constructed to reflect this mistrust of local traditions of the militaristic architecture that secures the border displays. Adobe brick was validated as a construction material, but not adobe mortar, which is more likely to be used on the humble houses of Mexicans and Mexican Americans on both sides of the contemporary border. Material Lineage While the adobe walls of Prada Marfa are indigenous, they are not perceived to be native to the United States, as the tradition is a spoil of the Mexican-American war. The form of the building recalls a West Texas vernacular, which is influenced by the melding of many cultures at the border. The artists Elmgreen and Dragset are from Denmark and Norway, respectively. The details of the interior come from Italy. The specifications for the shelves, the typography (a variation of a type popular with American engravers and typefounders in the last third of the 19th century), the color of paint for the interior walls, the lighting, and the carpet were directly sampled from Prada’s own architectural details for retail outlets in Milan. The inspiration for the facade is sampled from German photographer Andreas Gursky’s photograph Prada II. The building is sprayed with an elastomeric white latex coating to reflect the powerful rays of the sun and withstand the extreme expansion and contraction of the building’s structure in the fluctuating desert temperatures. Xenophobia and Cultural Assimilation Prada Marfa was a very new kind of work. Unlike the reserved and apolitical work of Judd—who in Marfa had already laid claim to art and what it should be—Prada Marfa blurs the boundaries between architecture, art, politics, and culture. The very same night that Prada Marfa opened, xenophobes attacked the work, stealing the shoes and purses, destroying the building’s facade, and spray painting “dum” [sic] and “dumb” on the inside and outside of the building. Prada Marfa represented a very new kind of artistic expression that was unfamiliar in the region and challenged conservative artistic sensibilities, calling into question the juxtapositions between wealth and poverty, the U.S. and Mexico, anglo and Mejicano, of the region that the building highlighted. Since Prada Marfa’s construction, it has had to evolve to survive in the political and environmental climate of both art and the borderlands. Since the first attack on the building, it has been vandalized several times—the glass windows were shoddily replaced by scratch-resistant and shatterproof acrylic to withstand bullets and the continual “peeling out” of cars in front of the building, which kicks up rocks and debris onto the facade. The fabric awnings had to be replaced due to smokers continually burning holes in the cloth with their cigarettes, and the font size of PRADA was increased to almost match the size of the letters on the black metal signs above, suggesting that the delicate typography on the original awnings may not have been good enough in a state where “everything is bigger.” Many other forms of vandalism have taken place. Men’s underwear was shoved into the drain pipes, causing the roof to flood and inundate the interior, which required the shelving to be rebuilt and repainted and the carpet to be replaced. Most dramatically, an artist by the name of Joe Magnano was found guilty of two counts of misdemeanor criminal mischief and required to pay Ballroom Marfa, the caretaker of Prada Marfa, $10,700 and a $1,000 fine for attempting to paint the building blue and pasting TOMS, the logo of a shoe brand founded by Texan Blake Mycoskie, on it, perhaps in an inadvertent attempt to make a structure perceived to be “not from around these parts” more Texan. The vandals who destroyed the building after it first opened, however, have never come forward, although it has been suggested that the borderland surveillance systems used to monitor immigrants traveling in the desert may be able to reveal these criminals. Hajj Prada Marfa has become a pilgrimage site where those making the journey to visit the building have left mementos as part of what has become a kind of hajj to this art Mecca. The various offerings at the Prada Marfa site have included visitors leaving one used shoe, placed around the building or atop the fencing surrounding the building. Perhaps this references the single shoe found in the faux shoe shelves of the store, or maybe the worn-out shoes of immigrants who journey by foot to the U.S. from Mexico until the soles of their shoes wear away, before being picked up in the landscape surrounding Prada Marfa. Not unlike the Jewish mitzvah where visitors to a grave leave small pebbles on a gravestone, visitors have also left small rocks, holding down a piece of paper with a name, message, or a business card, on the narrow ledge that surrounds Prada Marfa. This act reminds us of the harsh reality of a landscape where countless die in the desert, just as the wall has pushed people to greater extremes on their journey north. The shoes and the pebbles left by art pilgrims were systematically removed as they were also perceived as a form of vandalism—a crime, rather than a new tradition—and a fence was constructed around the building made of welded wire mesh, reminiscent of the transformation of the U.S.–Mexico border from a barbed wire fence to stretches of welded steel. The construction of the fence surrounding Prada Marfa, however, has prompted another tradition of offering at the site. While called Prada Marfa, the building is technically just outside the small town of Valentine, Texas. Despite a population of 217, the town is inundated with over 1,000 people on Valentine’s Day, as well as hundreds of Valentine’s Day cards that are sent through the local post office, which has been known as a “love station.” Today, “love locks,” padlocks used by sweethearts to symbolize their love, are attached to the new fence surrounding Prada Marfa, and the keys are thrown away. Perhaps this, too, symbolizes the time we live in, mired in a national struggle between the fences that divide and the love that could bring us together in the borderlands. Ronald Rael holds the Eva Li Memorial Chair in Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and his architectural practice, Rael San Fratello, was the designer of Prada Marfa. He is the author of Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary.
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Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron venture into fashion design for Prada

Prada has thrown its 2018 fall menswear collection back to the 90’s, with a fashion show in Milan that put utilitarian black nylon front and center. Rem Koolhaas, Herzog & de Meuron, French designers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, and German industrial designer Konstantin Grcic were all invited to interpret the material through an industrial lens to create a unique item for the collection. Fashion designer Miuccia Prada’s rise to fame was built on black nylon in 1984; in weaving nylon, typically used for packaging at the time and not clothing, into the landmark luxury “Vela” bag, Prada transformed the luxury brand into a contemporary clothing company. The same waterproof “Pocone” nylon used in the original Vela bag was on full display yesterday at Prada’s preview of its Autumn Winter 2018 menswear collection in Milan. Instead of flash or color, the focus was on form and usage, and the menswear fashion week show was appropriately staged in an industrial warehouse with a Prada twist. The storage facility in Viale Ortles, Milan, was plastered with throwbacks to Prada’s past and lit with blues, reds and purples by AMO, the research and branding studio of OMA. This isn’t the first time AMO has worked with Prada, as they also designed Prada’s 2017 Spring/Summer venue. OMA founding principal Rem Koolhaas contributed a backwards backpack to the show, designing a black nylon pack meant to be worn on the front of the body. The boxy container is meant to be first and foremost accessible, as Koolhaas notes that the convenience of a backpack is negated by having to take it off to access. “The shape of the backpack has the convenience of flexibility, the location–the back–the huge inconvenience that it is fundamentally inaccessible to the wearer,” Koolhaas told Prada. In the same way the Vela bag advanced the backpack through material, Koolhaas’s pack was meant to be the next step forward in the bag’s shape. Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron chose to focus on the clothing side, designing a shirt patterned with what looks like statements in English, but reveals itself to be gibberish upon closer examination. Calling language useless, Herzog & de Meuron reduced words to nothing more than ornamentation as a commentary on the way untrue information has saturated our daily lives. “It has lost its seductive power. There is nothing new, nothing critical, nothing true in language that cannot be turned into its opposite and claimed to be equally true. Language has become an empty vehicle of information,” reads Herzog & de Meuron’s statement to Prada. OMA and Koolhaas have had a longstanding partnership with Prada, collaborating on everything from a 120,000-square-foot arts complex in Milan, to the Prada “Epicenter” in New York. All of Prada’s 2018 Autumn/Winter menswear collection can be found here.
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AMO designs Prada’s 2017 Spring/Summer set space

OMA's internationally-based research, branding, and publication studio AMO has designed the set of Italian fashion brand Prada's Spring Summer 2017 show.

Formed in 1999, 24 years after Rem Koolhaas founded the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), AMO is the architecture practice's research think-tank. Directed by Reinier de Graaf, a partner at OMA, AMO addresses issues surrounding architectural production and other mediums such as fashion, print, online media. Past projects include a redesign of the EU flag and being a leader in the production of Volume magazine.

In 2011, the group worked with Prada on the confusingly titled OMA*AMO for/with Prada, an exhibition in Venice. This year, OMA's Shohei Shigematsu designed the exhibition space for Manus x Machina at the Met.

This year's project for Prada, however, is on a much larger scale. The design features a catwalk runway divided into three zigzagging segments that slope down to the audience seating. The upper-most level, the entry gangway, is located behind a mesh-crafted colonnade.

Made from metal, the mesh dominates the interior space and allows an array of colored lighting to permeate through and illuminate the space. "Generating an abstract layer, composed of meshes with different patterns and dimensions...overlap to recreate a total space. The transparency of the cladding material unveils the underlying framework with Cartesian precision," the firm said in a press release.

Subsequently the resultant glow from the lights aims to de-humanize the space, "[dematerializing] all the surfaces, coloring the room, now reminiscent of a post-human scenario."

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More in Milan: Rem Koolhaas’ arts complex for Prada brings together old and new—with gold

Should you be looking for yet another reason to add Milan to your architectural travel itinerary, the Prada Foundation is scheduled to open its many doors to the public on May 9. Designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA, the campus—part new construction, part rehabbed structures—will include 120,000 square feet of exhibition space, a theater, a children's area, a restaurant, and library. "It is surprising that despite the enormous expansion of art media, the number of typologies for the display of art remains limited," commented Koolhaas on his website. "It seems that art's apotheosis is unfolding in an increasingly limited repertoire of spatial conditions: The gallery (white, abstract, and neutral), the industrial space (attractive because of its predictable conditions which are meant to remain neutral when juxtaposed with any artwork), the contemporary art museum (a barely disguised version of the department store), and the purgatory of the art fair." The Prada Foundation is located in a former distillery at Largo Isarco, an industrial complex dating from 1910 that comprises seven existing buildings, including a warehouse, laboratories, and brewing silos surrounded by a large courtyard. OMA inserted three new structures into the site: a museum for temporary exhibitions, a transformable cinema building, and a ten-story gallery tower. Opening exhibits will draw on the holdings of the Prada Collection (which is heavy on 20th century and contemporary art) and works on loan from museums around the world. Projects commissioned for the occasion are also on the program; Robert Gober and Thomas Demand have created site-specific installations that engage the old and new architectures, and Roman Polanski has produced a documentary film that explores his cinematographic inspirations. [via NY Times.]
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Zaha the Lioness

It felt a bit like the Decoration & Design Building at the Architecture and Design Film Festival last night for the U.S. premiere of Lioness Among Lions: The Architect Zaha Hadid, thanks in part to a smattering of East Side stylings in the crowd at the Tribeca Cinemas and the clever addition of Potterton Books to the festival. Waiting for the theater doors to open, we swigged wine provided by event sponsor Resource Furniture and perused shelves filled with a fantastic collection  of both old and new books; Loos and Gio Ponti pressed up against Studio Gang. As we raved about Van Alen's new bookstore, Potterton's book buyer Beth Daugherty admitted she still mourns the loss of Urban Center Books. Once inside the theater, a sexy little short by photographer Dave Burk cast Studio Gang's new Columbia College Media Production Center in Chicago in soft light and perfectly realized cross-fades. And so it was a bit of disappointment to see the feature film's production values were slightly less than the opener. But the problem with Lioness, which was released in Germany last year, isn't entirely the production. The buildings are handsomely handled by director Horst Brandenburg, though they're not choreographed in a manner that makes one truly feel the flow. No, the main problem is in the fawning tenor of a voiceover that sounds like it's intended for the "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." The oversimplified narration will make architecture fans understand what historians must feel watching the History Channel. The saving grace, not surprisingly, is when Hadid weighs in. Only then does the film delve slightly into the technology and offer any deep analysis. But here the editing keeps the focus on the fabulous: Here's Zaha fanning herself in Spain with a Spanish fan; here she is in Hong Kong at a Chanel opening wearing Prada, there she is in ripped jeans... you get the picture. Of course, it's understood that the film is for a general audience, but general audiences dig details, too. Throw in a foundry, a glass manufacturer, and a computer program for good measure. Explain how the buildings work in layman's terms. Only then will the audience understand why she's fabulous.
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Beguiling Horizons from Bruno Cals

The almost abstract series of prints by Brazilian photographer Bruno Cals could show race tracks, prisons, railroads, or meadows. But what Cals has captured through his lens are in fact some of the world’s most seductive new buildings. In an exhibition on view through July 31 at 1500, a new gallery in New York with a focus on Brazilian photography, what resembles swells of water in Prada turns out to be the facade of Herzog & de Meuron’s Prada store in Aoyama, Tokyo. Another shot shows not an undulating sheen of ice but the Maison Hermès by Renzo Piano in Ginza, Tokyo. Other images offer close-ups not of trophy architecture but of everyday structures that prove just as surprising. What at first glance looks like a lush field is a brick building in Palermo, Buenos Aires, studded with graffiti and crossed by an electrical wire. Cals, an acclaimed fashion and advertising photographer, divides his time between commercial and personal projects, launching Horizons, his first series of architectural images, in 2008. Six of the twelve images in the series—depicting buildings in São Paulo, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires—are on view as digital C-prints, while the rest are displayed on a LCD screen. Probing themes of “presence versus emptiness, and search versus satisfaction,” Cals finds provocative new perspectives in the everyday world around us.
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Pritzkers Take the Stage

Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, like many of their starchitect brethren, have not had an easy time of late in New York, from the stalling of 56 Leonard to the continuing reconfiguration of the Parrish Art Museum. (Yes, we know everybody's having a hard time of late, but that's a different story.) Well, the Basel-based architects just got their big break, as they say in the theater: a debut at the Met. No, they are not the latest hot shot firm to proffer an addition to the ever-transforming complex. Better yet, they've designed the set for a new production of Verdi's Atilla, which premiers tonight. We're not exactly sure what to make of the ghostly scenery that somehow floats above the chorus, from a forest picnic of sorts to post-apocalyptic-looking ruins (hopefully not the remnants of some failed project). Yet even in this unusual setting, the designer's unusual forms shine. Fashion doing about as well as architecture these days, does it come as a surprise that Miuccia Prada has lent her talents to the costumes? With any luck, Herzog & de Meuron will take over the Oscars next year.