OMA and Prada - A love affair

March, 26 2013 10:00

Posted inArchitecture

The partnership between OMA and Prada was born 13 years ago, in the clash of the titans leading the two firms: architect Rem Koolhaas and fashion designer Miuccia Prada.

The famous fashion brand was then in a phase of strong experimentation, that found in Koolhaas’ architectural firm fertile soil to grow profoundly radical ideas.

The first successes of a series of stylistic exercises on “anti-branding” were New York and Los Angeles Epicenters: the former is a public space, where not only retail takes place, but also art and culture events, through which the brand is promoted; the latter is strongly characterized by the elimination of the conventional shop window in favor of a more intimate and surprising manner to display the product.

 

By OMA © All rights reserved

 

The throbbing heart of the partnership, however, is represented by the projects that revolve around Prada fashion shows, that don’t stop at the set-up for the catwalk but they results also in a series of web contents and look-book, that require deep sharing between the stylist and the architectural firm, until the very inversion of roles.

OMA, through its research counterpart AMO, worked on the progressive demolition of front row hierarchies by decomposing the classic straight line of the runway in a variety of paths, reaching a sort of “democratization” of the seats. Together with the models’ nervous breakdown.

 

 

By OMA © All rights reserved

 

By OMA © All rights reserved

 

As NY Epicenter demonstrates fully, Prada’s focus points are not only retail and fashion shows, but there’s also a strong will to communicate the brand cultural background and reference.

One of the most stunning project in this point of view is the Transformer, a temporary pavilion located in Seoul, South Korea, that hosted in 2008 four different events (a fashion show, an art exhibition, a film festival and a fashion exhibition), each one held in a different set-up, obtained by rotating the whole structure, tetrahedral in shape, in a different position. The transformation of the venue was so mesmerizing that it became itself a show open to the public, who flowed continuously while three cranes were moving the structure.

 

By OMA © All rights reserved

 

A similar experiment is the 24-Hour Museum, held in 2012 in the historical Palais d’Iéna, Paris, whose purpose was to host the exhibition of Francesco Vezzoli ironic “statues” (foamboard classical figures with the faces of contemporary celebrities stuck on) subjected to three different transformations throughout the stages it went in its 24-hour lifecycle: an opening night party, public and press tours, and visits by schoolchildren.

 

 

By OMA © All rights reserved

 

Ideal finish line of this cultural communication program is the completion of Fondazione Prada in Milan, estimated for 2015, that should represent the first permanent exhibition of contemporary art in the city. The exhibition will take place inside the spaces of an ancient distillery (representing the strong industrial culture to which Prada is bound) where new structures will be superimposed on the old ones, obtaining a network of different palaces, a collage of different parts capable of introduce a variety of curatorial interiors with no defined path, where the visitor will be able to compose its own private experience.

 

By OMA © All rights reserved

 

Luckily, we have to wait much less to see the results of another prestigious collaboration between OMA, Prada and a third well-known design company: Knoll.

In the next Milan Design Week will be presented a series of twelve pieces of furniture produced by Knoll and designed by OMA, of which we got a preview during the latest Prada fashion show.

Rather than on the form, the three firms focused more on the pure functionality of the product, obtaining simple primitive shapes with an accurate research on materials and textures.

 

 

By OMA © All rights reserved