Zaha Hadid -Queen of the curves
Zaha Hadid was born in 1950 in Baghdad. She was a British architect and designer of Iraqi descent, known for her distinctive deconstructionist style. In 2004, she became the first woman to receive a Pritzker Prize, often referred to as the "architectural Nobel".
Hadid began her studies at the American University in Beirut, where she obtained a BA in Mathematics. In 1972, she moved to London to study architecture at the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA), which was the epicentre of progressive architecture in the 1970s. There she met Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis, with whom she later collaborated at the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), a Dutch architectural firm.
In 1979, Hadid opened her own business, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA). The company, based in London, operates to this day. Later in her career, in 1983, Hadid gained international fame after winning the competition for The Peak recreation center in Hong Kong. The project was characterised by a certain fragmentation, instability and dynamism. It was the fragmentary style that made it later associated with the architectural school of deconstructionists. This classification gained particular recognition in 1988 when "Deconstructionist Architecture" was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. The architect's designs have been shown at exhibitions all over the world, and her works are in significant museum collections. Hadid died unexpectedly in 2016 in Miami, Florida.
The world recognised her as an architect who liked to push the boundaries and design what had previously seemed impossible. Many of her projects, incl. the already mentioned "The Peak" was rejected by the investors. In the 1980s and early 1990s, it was widely believed that her designs were too radical or even impossible. It got to the point where she was called a "paper architect" as her designs were too avant-garde to move beyond the drawing stage. The situation changed only after the completion of the Vitra fire station. Her designs are experimenting with new ones. They bring dynamism to existing urban areas or any other field of design, from buildings to interiors and furniture. When asked about her style, she replied: " There are 360 degrees, so why stick to one? "
Although her early work has often been dismissed for being "too dynamic", Hadid's creativity resulted in many retrospective exhibitions of her early designs. Her drawings, paintings and animations have been exhibited in the largest museums of modern art, incl. at MoMA, the Guggenheim Museum and the Deutsches Architekturmuseum.
Hadid is also known for using advanced technology in her designs, making her an expert in modern architectural deconstructionism. Her company ZHA, operating for forty years and having almost a thousand projects on its account, sets a benchmark for contemporary architecture. Their designs are light, fluid and transparent at the same time. This is due to the use of various materials, including glass, plastic, titanium sheets or steel.
Among their most recognisable buildings are the Vitra fire station in Weil am Rhein (1993), Mind Zone at the Millennium Dome in Greenwich (1999), the Bergisel ski jump in Innsbruck (2002), the Aquatics Center in London (2012) built on The Olympic Games, Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku (2012) or Lois and Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati (2003). The listed Center for Contemporary Art was the first museum in the United States designed by a woman.
In 2010, Hadid's bold design for MAXIA, Rome's museum of modern art and architecture, won her Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize for Best Building. She was honoured with the same award the following year for the slimness of the structure she won in her project on Evelyn Grace Academy, a London high school building. In 2014, her design at the Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku's cultural center, won the Design of the Year award from London's Design Museum. She was the first woman to be honoured with this award. This is another example of how Hadid broke through a "glass ceiling". Without a doubt, she was one of the most influential women in the male-dominated architectural field. Time and time again it has proved it's worth by breaking new boundaries.
In addition to the already mentioned awards, Hadid also won the architectural Praemium Imperiale awarded to her by the Japan Art Association (2009) and the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture (2016), which is the highest award awarded by the previously mentioned Royal Institute of British Architects. In 2012, she was awarded the Order of the British Empire.
Although she was mainly known for her work as an architect, her unique portfolio is not limited to building designs. Zaha Hadid was also an excellent designer of many items, and the world of design owes a lot to her activities. She used her sculptural sensitivity to create various objects, ranging from furniture to jewellery (e.g. for Georg Jensen A / S, a Danish company dealing with silver projects) or shoes (e.g. collaboration with the Lacoste brand).
The Mesa table
The Mesa table was designed by Zaha Hadid in 2007 as part of a limited edition series of furniture from famous designers and architects. The project was commissioned by Vitra - a Swiss family company known for its collaborations with famous artists. The furniture, and with it the Mesa Table, was on display at the Buckminster Fuller Dome on the Vitra "campus" in Weil am Rhein, near Basel.
Zaha Hadid designed the Mesa Table in London together with architect Patrik Schumacher. The design team also included Saffet Kaya Bekiroglu, Chikara Inamura and Melike Altinisik. Vitra, a furniture and design company, was their client.
The Mesa table is based on an earlier Hadid architectural experiment, the Elastika installation in the historic Moore Building from 1921. The installation was created because of the famous Art Basel Miami Beach in 2005. Zaha's proposal was a collection of "arms" or "tentacles" that met each other in the air and connected the floors of the atrium. The structure of the table, like the aforementioned installation, is based on the idea of creating connections and refers to nature and topography. In principle, the table was to look as if it rose straight from the ground, and the elements formed one whole. Zaha herself compared the design to water lilies floating on the surface of a pond. The whole thing could be "flat mats supported by an invisible, complex and organic underwater structure".
As for the technique itself, Hadid's original intention was to use chrome to coat the shiny surface of the table. This proved impossible, however, since the galvanic process required for plating with chromium could not be applied to the non-conductive plastic. Finally, the table was covered with a silver nitrate coating, which creates the impression of a mirror image on its surface. A special device was even built to smoothly rotate the table three hundred and sixty degrees so that an even layer of nitrate could be applied and the joints between the elements were not visible.
Today, finding the Mesa Table is extremely difficult. In 2007, the Mesa Table turned out to be the most expensive item at the Vitra exhibition.
Ben Capper, Furniture Strategist, 16.04.2012, https://furniturestrategist.ch/2016/04/04/zaha-hadid-furniture-designer/ dostęp: 25.08.2021
Wywiad z Thomas'em Schweikert'em, 12.09.2016. http://collectiononline.design-museum.de/#/en/object/41299?_k=pu6njg dostęp: 25.08.2021