Farshid Moussavi reveals what inspired her picks for the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2018
When we pay a visit to the architect Farshid Moussavi in her temporary-ish offices in the City of London, she is wearing a pink Commes des Garçons top with what might be described as architectural interventions at the elbow. She was more than happy, though, to sport Simone Rocha, her pick for Best Women’s Fashion Collection A/W 17, in our shoot. Moussavi is a long-time fan and customer. ‘I first saw a few of her pieces in Selfridges,’ she says. ‘And this was before she was in Dover Street Market or had her own store.’ For Moussavi, Rocha works very much in the tradition of the great Japanese designers, while adding her own particular spin. ‘She does what the Japanese designers do in terms of the play with form and structure, but adds femininity and fun.
‘I think with Simone you are awarding an attitude that is more enduring,’ she adds. ‘It’s a bit like Commes des Garçons or Junya Watanabe, they don’t really work in fashion. And you can wear them forever. It is the right approach in terms of sustainability.’
Her pick for Public Building of the Year is also a case of smart and sustainable reuse – Thomas Heatherwick’s Zeitz MOCAA museum in Cape Town. ‘He transformed an existing building and showed a real boldness and confidence,’ she says. ‘I think it was difficult and brave and well done. The original building was so powerful and strong and he responded with equal strength.’
It is Moussavi’s patience as much as her strength that is being tested by her largest current project. By now, the building which houses Moussavi’s pop-up office on Fenchurch Street should have been razed to the ground to make way for a 17-storey mid-rise tower with a fluted black glass façade. Brexit has temporarily stalled the development and Moussavi has had to smartly accommodate budget cuts. (This after wrangling with the City’s planning chiefs, who weren’t keen on her gradiated black glass, preferring the optics of transparency.)
Moussavi, co-founder of Foreign Office Architects and with a solo CV that includes the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland and the Victoria Beckham store in London, remains sanguine, accepting it all as part of the journey with major projects. And the practice has plenty in the way of pleasant distractions, including a re-design for Harrods’ Toy Department. ‘They called and said, “Do you want to have a go?” It has been a great opportunity for us.’ For Moussavi, it was also a chance to be part of the re-thinking of bricks-and-mortar retailing. ‘It’s interesting because the space is going to be slightly smaller than their old toy department, because they are editing the offer down and trying to concentrate on things that you don’t really buy online.
‘We have tried to simplify the environment and play with colour,’ she continues. ‘With fashion stores you have to approach it like a gallery. It has to be a unique and precious setting, but also stay in the background. But [with] this the space has to be stronger than the toys. And they are already really colourful.’
A version of this article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Wallpaper* (W*227)