Design Icons – Zaha Hadid

Design inspiration can come from any number of sources, and when we work on an office design for a client, everything from the business’ visual brand identity and company culture, to interior design styles, colours, fabrics and finishes will come into play. But every one of us will find particular inspiration from different creative sources, so we thought we’d explore the design icons who have made an impact on our own team at Paramount.

Helen, our Design Director, has a particularly poignant choice in light of recent news; Zaha Hadid.

Helen’s Design Icon – Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid by Mary McCartney

We were all saddened to hear about the sudden passing of Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-born British architect.

On a personal level, I have always hugely admired her work, especially since she was a strong woman in what is still, ostensibly, a male-dominated industry.

Whilst you may not be able to specifically name some of the buildings or interiors that she created, whenever you saw one in a magazine it always screamed ‘Hadid’ before you even had confirmation that it was her.

Queen of the curve

Dividing opinion, and certainly not backwards in coming forwards, she was described by many as a genius but was just as famous for her fiery temper.

The accusations of tyranny and arrogance levelled at her were in equal measure to the claims that she was an architectural hero, but for me the quote that sums her up best came from her mentor, Rem Koolhaas, who described her as “a planet in her own inimitable orbit”.

For many years she was the architect who never got anything built, including winning the commission of the Cardiff Bay Opera House twice before the project, after much controversy, collapsed. Since then, her office has expanded considerably and worked on some very large, high-profile projects. If you want to get the full story of her life and work, you can find out more here.

The Hadid style is instantly recognisable and, while it might not be to everyone’s tastes, I’m definitely a fan of the majestic scale and regal curves of her architecture. Here are a few of my favourites.

MAXXI National Museum of the XXI Century Arts, Rome

Zaha Hadid MAXXI Museum of XXI Century Art, RomeThe museum was one of the first prominent buildings in Rome to be designed by a female architect. Composed of bending oblong tubes that overlap and intersect, the curved concrete walls of the MAXXI are recognisably “Hadid”.

It unanimously won the World Building of the Year award at the 2010 World Architecture Festival and also won the RIBA Stirling Prize for the greatest contribution to British architecture in 2010. Zaha Hadid MAXXI Museum of XXI Century Art, Rome

Images: © Iwan Baan

The expansive, minimal rooms, with plenty of natural light and connecting bridges not only create impressive architectural spaces but also serve the purpose of the space, allowing visitors to view and explore the works of art easily.

Heydar Aliyev Centre, Baku

With its undulating form that flows out of its surroundings and glazed openings between the folds, the fluidity of this building takes its roots from historical Islamic architecture. Apart from not tiring from looking at images of this, I love the relationship between the exterior and interior of the building. Definitely the queen at her curvy best.

Zaha Hadid Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku

Image: © Hutton+ Crow

Zaha Hadid Haydar Aliyev Center, Baku Zaha Hadid Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku

Image: © Hutton+ Crow                                        Image: © Iwan Baan

Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul

This was the first public project in Korea to use 3-D Building Information Modelling (BIM) and other digital tools in its construction. Hadid used a technique called Parametricism, which uses algorithms to create digital shapes that are used in the final building. Which might explain why it looks like the set of a science fiction movie.

Logistically, this is an impressive build. The cladding system alone consists of over 45,000 panels in various sizes and degrees of curvature. The visual impact is even more impressive when you consider that the reflective exterior will change in relation to its surroundings.

Zaha Hadid Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul Zaha Hadid Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul

Zaha Hadid Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul

© Virgile Simon Bertrand

Liquid Glacial Table

Finally, I thought I’d include an example of Zaha Hadid’s furniture. In 2012 she worked with David Gill Gallery to create a transparent table that mimicked melting glacial ice. She then expanded the Liquid Glacial collection to include a range of stools and a bowl.

Zaha Hadid Liquid Glacial Table Zaha Hadid Liquid Glacial Table

© Jacopo Spilimbergo

The rippled shadows and refracted light create a stunning effect, although with a price tag in the hundreds of thousands, it’s unlikely to be within the budget of the average office fit out.

Zaha Hadid Liquid Glacial Stool Zaha Hadid Liquid Glacial Bowl

© Martin Slivka

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