On view through spring, 2012, the Philadelphia Museum of Art features a unique exhibition, Zaha Hadid: Form in Motion. This show includes furniture and design objects in a space entirely transformed by the prominent female architect. The fluid, site-specific installation is the first of its kind in the United States, assembled by a team of designers from Hadid Architects. The show reflects Hadid’s seamless work methods, as well as her technological breakthroughs in architecture and design. artes fine arts magazine
Born in Bagdad, Iraq, Hadid is known worldwide for her visionary architecture. She is responsible for many breakthroughs in her field, and is the first woman recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. She is the founder of London-based Zaha Hadid Architects, and has numerous projects completed around the world, most recently including MAXXI: National Museum of XXI Century in Rome (2009), Guangzhaou Opera House in China (2010), and Olympic Aquatics Centre in London (2011). She is now based in London and works internationally in the fields of urbanism, architecture and design.
The museum gallery housing the exhibition, in the Perelman building, is completely transformed. The installation greets the viewer with sleek, attention-grabbing furniture and functional objects, such as the Z-Chair, Vortexx Chandeliers and the Mesa Table. To the left, there is a rippling wall—a temporary structure built on site. This undulating form also serves as a shelving unit for Hadid-designed objects, including limited-edition footwear, jewelry and silverware. The silver lines painted on the floor echo the shadows made by the furniture, creating a seamless visual composition.
Lighting plays an important role in this exhibition. The metallic chairs and tables reflect the natural light casted from the window, evolving and morphing as they are viewed from different angle. The functional objects on the shelving unit, including Flatware, Crevasse Vases and other items seem to flash from the light cast through a small opening in the shelves. The Vortexx Chandeliers, continuously changing hues with the use of high-intensity, light emitting diodes LED, cast an ephemeral glow on the surrounding objects and walls.
Zaha Hadid makes it a goal to integrate her designs to their environment. In this exhibition silver lines painted on the floor fuse the shadows to the objects, at times creating a 3-dimensional effect. The fluidity in her work stems from her creative process. According to curator Kathryn Bloom Hiesinger, Hadid works on her designs simultaneously, having several computer screens open at a time with various objects and architectural images, resulting the work that is interrelated and flowing. Design similarities can be seen throughout both her architectural and object designs.
Most objects in the exhibition are made from steel, aluminum, and polyurethane, apart from the sofa, which is upholstered with metallic fabric. Despite the hard materials, the objects are surprisingly organic. They walk the line between fine art and product design, and are often viewed as functional sculptures. Hadid sells her objects as both art and useable products.
Some of the highlights of this exhibition are the mini-sculptural jewelry pieces—Celeste Necklace and Cuff and Glace Collection Jewelry—which are both made with Swarowski Crystals. Like most of the objects in the show, the unusual jewelry shapes elevate them beyond mere utility, to become works of art. Another unexpected design offering by Hadid, is the hydrogen-powered, three-wheel vehicle, Z-Car I prototype. It is presented outside the immediate gallery area, gracing the hallway of the Perelman building with its aerodynamically sleek, quirky presence. As if to leave no part of our lives unattended to, the exhibit also features futuristic Hadid footwear designs, produced in conjunction with clothing brand Lacoste.
Not only does this show offer an exclusive look into the future, with spectacular Hadid designs, the museum also honored the architect with a Design of Excellence Award on November 19, 2011. Collab, a volunteer committee specializing in design at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will be presenting this award to Hadid, with her multi-faceted contributions in the fields of design, architecture and urbanism. The architect used the award event as an opportunity to share her views on design with the audience.
By Ekaterina Popova, Contributing Writer
Visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art at: www.philamuseum.org
See more of Zaha Hadid’s design concepts at: www.zaha-hadid.com