Iraqi born designer and architect, Zaha Hadid, studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, forming a close working relationship with her tutor, Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas with whom she worked with during the 70’s. In 1980, she opened her own practice in London.
It is without doubt that Zaha Hadid has a reputation for remarkable design and architecture equally matched by her remarkable character and temperament. Her vivacious imagination began at age 11, and now transcends to her striking furniture and object design and particularly in her architectural design.
Her strong and often single-mindedness, allowing for little compromise, has resulted in some of her best works remaining unbuilt. (Cardiff Bay Opera House was spectacularly lost) However, this same uncompromising spirit has also seen Hadid become, arguably, the most successful female designer and architect in the world. Immortalised as the first ever woman to win the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in it’s 26 year history, Hadid, or “the diva” as her critics refer to her, has risen triumphant in a field which is traditionally domineered by men.
Her designs are completely untraditional and challenging, which is what makes them so dramatic. Clients for which she has designed furniture and objects for, include Swarovski, Dupont, Sawaya & Moroni, and Alessi.
Hadid's 'Moraine' sofa was commissioned by the renowned
Italian company Sawaya & Moroni. Covered in red 'Fantasy Leather', the 'Moraine' breaks new ground in its radical curvilinear asymmetrical form, a piece of furniture that is both sculpture and seating, abstract and functional.
Dupont were said to be delighted with Hadid’s ‘Z Kitchen Design’ which features the company’s remarkable design material Corian to perfection. Made in Glacier white the kitchen features 2 Islands
– Fire (for cooking) and Water (for washing). The futuristic design
comes equipped with numerous features such as embedded heating membranes, touch control panels, sound activators and scent dispensers, LED lighting and a multimedia entertainment system.
A limited edition “Tea and Coffee Tower” was created for an Alessi project where 22 renowned designers were asked to create a “tea and coffee object”, given total freedom. Hadid’s sterling silver sculpture splits into four elements: teapot, coffee pot, milk jug and sugar bowl. This exceptional piece of artwork behaves like a three-dimensional puzzle, sitting within a tray that guides the user through the multiple configurations.
In 2006, she created an Aqua Table for Established & Sons, which she describes as “like flying over water”.
Using a translucent silicon gel, contours formed over the smooth tabletops, creating a liquid color which draws the eye of the viewer. Once again Hadid was able to establish yet another ‘first’ when the table sold for a record breaking amount at a New York Auction.
Similarly, the “Seamless” range of modern furniture, again for Established and Sons, has a liquid quality featuring 9 designs made of painted polyester resin. The New York Times stated that Hadid gives ‘liquidity’ a whole new meaning.
The total fluidity is also prevalent in her interior design and architectural projects which have an indescribable ‘movement’. In fact, Hadid herself has expressed that her ideal home would have ‘moving walls’, so the kitchen could actually move and the bathroom would not need to be fixed in one place. In 2007, she exhibited “My Ideal House” at International Furniture Fair, Cologne, Germany, a creation which literally ‘morphed’ into each living space.
She has created interiors for the Guggenheim Museum in New York,
the Vienna Kunsthalle, and the Hayward Gallery in London.
By all means, her architectural feats are most notable, both for their strikingly vivid presence and ambitious structural accomplishment. Creating structural space was certainly a stuttering start. Her first big success, The Peak, a spa planned for Hong Kong, was never built. Nor were buildings on Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm, or an art and media centre in Dusseldorf.
Hadid’s first built project, The Fire Station at the production complex of the Vitra office furniture group, was a formal success but not a functional one. The fire service moved out and the building was converted into a chair museum. And the public opposition to her unconventional vision for the Cardiff Bay Opera House in the 1990’s is now notorious, but history.
This became a turning point and architectural successes followed. These include the BMW Plant, Leipzig – Germany. The Central Building is the
active nerve-centre or brain of the whole factory complex. Mind Zone at the London Millenium Dome, completed in December, 1999, Zaha’s largest construction so far. Rome Contemporary Arts Centre, the first national museum for contemporary art in Italy. The Bergisel Ski Jump, situated on the Bergisel Mountain overlooking downtown Innsbruck, the ski jump is a major landmark.
The Wolfsberg Science Centre, the first of its kind in Germany, and a landmark project. The Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, Ohio. The New York Times described it, without overstatement, as “the most important new building in America since the Cold War.”
Zaha explains her style as a ‘virtuoso of elegance’. Explaining that
personal investigation and research
is laden with so many ideas that one cannot extrude a single one, so there is no formal repertoire.
“It’s like a pianist constantly practicing - it's the same level of intensity. It increases the repertoires immensely - it’s unpredictable”, she says.
Inspiration is drawn from many influences including Erich Mendelsohn, Mies van der Rohe, and le Corbusier. While she respects many contemporary designers and architects, she states that, “Many are too obsessed by method. It becomes a dogma.”
By all means, Zaha has not followed any methods, instead keeping focus on her goals, she has rigidly stormed through her career, leaving a string of international awards, prestigious titles and accolades in her wake.
She is currently Professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in Austria and her work will be on show in a major exhibition at London's Design Museum throughout 2007.
Zaha Hadid has accomplished recognition both as a modern furniture designer and architect as well as a woman. In a field where woman have to work that much harder to make a difference, her work is often more surprising, in more subtle ways.