What I Saw – Zaha Hadid – Form in Motion

Calling all modern architecture fans in driving distance of Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Perelman Building: this is your best chance to experience the architecture of Zaha Hadidin North America. The museum is featuring Hadid’s furniture and product designs in a gallery she designed to draw the visitor into her world and her design vision.

The undulating, curving wall fills the left side of the gallery, providing platforms for sofas, chairs, and chandeliers, and vitrines for necklaces, bracelets, shoes, and vases. Her installation design presents a vision consistent with her product design. Complex, fluid geometries, designed in advanced computer design software programs, are sent straight to the factories, where they are produces using advanced computerized manufacturing techniques. The museum website has a three minute video featuring the craftsmen at Associated Fabrication who produced the custom fabricated the undulating polystyrene wall. Tone on tone floor graphics continued the terraced effect.  But the real purpose of the exhibit is to lure you into the video theater created behind the curving foam wall where you can watch a continuous loop presentation of projects proposed and completed over her 30 year career.

No question, Hadid is a polarizing figure. Many were shocked when she won the 2004 Pritzker Architecture Prize, as it seemed she had completed so few projects. This video provides convincing evidence of her many completed projects. She is a strong personality, a Muslim woman at the pinnacle of a male dominated profession at the heart of western culture. She has had a clear, consistent design vision for 40 years. This exhibit gives a taste. We can only hope that the shrewd marketing pays off and she wins more commissions in the US.

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