Pop-Up Hadid

Monday, October 20, 2008

“Don’t panic, don’t wander off…. Open my bag, as they say in French…” Thus begins the audio-tour of the Chanel pop-up architecture pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid and launched this morning in Central Park (Fifth Avenue and 69th Street). The throaty dominatrix on the tape could have been Zaha herself, but is actually the ageless actress Jean Moreau.

The installation is a fine example of the collapse between art and commerce that architecture feeds into so well. Zaha’s billowing pod with entrances stapled into the base offers an almost too inner-uterine experience as visitors glide around slick white fiberglass folds detailed in padded black leather and across scarlet, maroon, purple, and aqua glass tiles blooming into high-kitsch floral patterns. “Don’t go up the stairs,” the voice commands.

In another unfolding folded space, art works—that is, installations inspired by “an iconic accessory”—are on display, including a gigantic purse with a fur-lined interior and an open compact (pace Meret Oppenheim). Other works show erupting pearls, ingested gold watches, and perhaps inevitably swings suspended from the gold roping handle of the famed Chanel quilted bag.

The pavilion itself is by far the most accomplished interpretation of Chanel’s power to be seductive, and temptingly threatening at the same time. And do go up those stairs.

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One Response to “Pop-Up Hadid”

  1. You can reference Merret Oppenheim all you like, but while she stayed on the right side of the line of kitsch, Hadid steps far over it in her 10′ tall fiberglass pumps and fur-lined purse. Too bad Julie Iovine, with her typical starchitect-struck blinders, can’t see what the Times’ Nicolai Ourosoff does: the last gasp of the now tired & cynical overlap of art, architecture, sculpture, and fashion in the service of marketing & commerce. What he calls “a black hole of bad art and superficial temptations,” your reporter finds “fine” and “seductive.” Maybe Ms. Iovine can’t afford to bite the hand that pays for her canapés (or won’t give back the perfume in the goodie bag) while Mr. Ourosoff, employed by a paper that routinely runs ads for Chanel, feels freer to speak the truth. It’s a curious inversion of the role you’d hope The Architect’s Newspaper would play.

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