Tadao Ando show opens at the Armani/Silos in Milan

Tadao Ando show opens at the Armani/Silos in Milan

Working wonders out of light, concrete and water, Pritzker Prize winner Tadao Ando has long been celebrated for his lyrical minimalism, evidenced in scores of projects around the world, like his Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas and the Church of the Light in his native Japan. Now, the Osaka-based architect has just arrived in Milan for the debut of a new exhibition of his work at Armani/Silos, the eponymous fashion brand’s cavernous gallery and event space.

Giorgio Armani himself was integral in bringing the show to Italy following the successful run (of a slightly different version) at Paris’s Centre Pompidou; the fashion maven has long had a penchant for Ando’s work, having commissioned him to create the nearby Armani Theatre almost two decades ago. For his part, Ando sees a natural affinity between his own aesthetic philosophy and that of the famed fashion designer. ‘We both appreciate quality in materials and simplicity in expression,’ he says.

Armani commissioned Ando to create the Armani Theatre, also in Milan, almost two decades ago. Photography: SGP

The exhibition is a testament to that same sensibility. Entitled ‘The Challenge’, the show unfolds in a series of darkened rooms and uses exquisite models, videos and shop drawings to track Ando’s career from its unlikely beginnings through to its most recent triumphs. ‘I was never trained as an architect,’ Ando points out, and ‘The Challenge’ documents the process of self-education that shaped the designer early on, mapping his global peregrinations in search of great buildings.

The detailed mockups of his most high-profile projects to date - such as the restoration of the Punta della Dogana facility in Venice, including a whole chunk of the Venetian landscape - bring the designs to life in their fullest context; one ongoing project in Paris, the transformation of the historic Bourse into a new museum, is rendered in richly textured wood, with a cutaway showing exactly how Ando is placing an elegant ring of concrete directly under the great nineteenth century dome.   

At the same time, the cool atmosphere that hangs around the Armani compound seems an appropriate complement to the work. As Ando notes, he and his sometime client share a special bond. ‘I can see into Giorgio’s heart,’ he says, ‘and he can see into mine.’ §

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