Karl Lagerfeld & Zaha Hadid
I have [an] idea. Why not build a museum that can travel? Why don’t we ask somebody like Zaha Hadid?’ She is a kind of Coco Chanel of today not in fashion, but in architecture. If you are lucky enough to know the greatest living architect*, and to have her accept an invitation to do a project, it is magical.
I gave Zaha the general idea in a few moments, and her interpretation and fulfilment of that idea is more than perfect. She was impressed, because she had done a similar project when she was a student—a house like prêt-à-porter, a place that you could simply buy and move from one place to another. And we formed this project in a very short time, because in her mind, and perhaps in her archives, the project already existed.
I always thought Zaha was a genius. I discovered her sketches before she even had people who could build her places—they were technically too difficult for them—and I knew it was going to cost a lot, but I wanted her to make this pavilion for Chanel.
I chose Zaha because I think architecture is the real art of today. There are great things built today even in countries we never go to—stunning, unbelievable—and there’s something very interesting and exciting going on with architecture in the 21st century. What I think is great about Zaha Hadid is that she found a way to break the grip of the post-Bauhaus. The Bauhaus was great, but the shit that came after it and that covered the world—all the cheap copies—was monstrous, no? So, here you have this woman who is a genius, making things that cannot compare to anything you have seen before. What’s better than that?
The material didn’t exist before this. It wasn’t tested, so you couldn’t know if it would resist weather, or water. I must admit, even I’m surprised that it happened. For me, it’s magical. When I first saw it in Hong Kong—at night especially, surrounded by tall buildings—I thought, ‘This is something that hasn’t happened before. This is really a 200 percent 21st-century event.”
For Hadid, “the fascination of the project was the challenge of translating the intellectual and physical into the sensual – experimenting with completely unexpected spaces and a totally immersive environment. I used the latest digital technology to refine and develop the original form. On the inside, the simple loop folds into a more labyrinthine trajectory. The fact that the Mobile Art container must be disassembled and shipped around the world was the biggest constraint to its design. Karl is a very informed connoisseur of architecture. He loves my work, and he said, ‘This project can come to life only if Zaha designs it.’ ”
*Zaha Hadid, founder of Zaha Hadid Architects, lauded for her architectural innovations and gravity-defying buildings was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004 and was internationally known for her built, theoretical and academic work.
Hadid received the prestigious ‘Praemium Imperiale’ from the Japan Art Association in 2009 and the Stirling Prize–one of architecture’s highest accolades–in 2010 and 2011 from the Royal Institute of British Architects. UNESCO named Zaha ‘Artist for Peace’ and the Republic of France awarded her the ‘Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ in recognition of her services to architecture.
Slides: image attribution