suckerPUNCH: describe your project.
mark GAGE/ marc BAILLY: During July, August and September of this year, Gage / Clemenceau Architects is collaborating on the design and production of a temporary installation with Nicola Formichetti, Fashion Director for Lady Gaga, Creative Director for Mugler as well as fashion stylist to Uniqlo, MAC and V Magazine. This collaboration is intended to produce an installation that experimentally fuses ideas from both fashion and architecture into a new type of physical environment, accessible to the general public, for a two week period coinciding with Fashion Week in New York City, in September 2011.
The stakes for this particular installation are high– as it will be housing not only the latest in Formichetti’s work, but will also include several original ensambles he has designed for Lady Gaga who has worn them in her performances and various red-carpet events. Typically, fashion environments are defined by an rather restrained minimalism that focuses the attention only on the clothing– for the obvious reasons of only selling clothes. In our collaboration with Nicola Formachetti, we are rewriting this equation and attempting to produce a new genre of experimental space that not only showcases, but magnifies the impact of his fashion designs into a new form of immersive environment that fuses the very genetics of architecture and fashion. Such fusions of artistic disciplines have historic roots in the 19th century German termGesamtkunstwerk, which describes mixings of the more traditional “arts” of music, sculpture, painting etc. For our proposal we are updating this ambition with new materials, new technologies, and new visual effects as are only now becoming available, and combining them with what is perhaps the most popular and increasingly important of the contemporary arts today– fashion. With shows such as the recent Alexander McQueen exhibition “Savage Beauty” at the venerable Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the associations between high art and fashion have never been stronger. This installation project pairs this development with new ideas about architecture, towards innovative and progressive new ends.
The installation is comprised of hundreds of robotically cut, mirrored facets, mounted to lightweight composite structural backing. These individual reflective facets are hung from the ceilings and walls, and attached to the flooring. Each facet is attached to its neighbors using a system of precisely bent aluminum clips. Large sheets of mirrored, abrasion-resistant, plastic sheets cover the floor and help to produce an endlessly reflective environment that refracts the clothing so that it can be viewed from a variety of unexpected perspectives. In this installation fashion is no longer an object that sits within a minimal architectural box. Instead, clothing becomes an active participant in a new type of environment that combines the spatial and optical aspects of architectural design with the temporary, ephemeral and fluidly beautiful forms found only in the worlds of high fashion.
This installation project is being organized through a non-profit organization, Boffo, that has a mission to inform the public about design and architecture through innovative exhibitions, installations and events.
sP: what or who influenced this project?
mG+mB: jan van eyck and kevin roche. in the first case, the arnolfini wedding, in the second, there’s was a major retrospective of his at Yale and I saw this lobby where he used a small set mirrors to reflect a floral arrangment. I was thinking of writing a piece on it– how it’s the modernist answer to the ongoing Rensaissance ambition to distort perspective via anamorphisis, and other forms of optical effects. So this has been marinating for a while. In our project the architecture magnifies/ exaggerates the objects within the space in in terms of the scale, perspectival angle, distance and luminosity. Its the ultimate special effect– an architecture becomes so hyper articulated and specularly agressive that it dissolves and fuses with the objects its intended to showcase. so very quantum…. neither wave nor particle– but smudges between disciplines.
sP: what were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
mG+mB: Chopped. I am addicted to watching Chopped. I love watching expertise in all of it’s forms.
sP: whose work is currently on your radar?
mG+mB: nicola formichetti. obviously! we’re meeting pretty frequently and i’m getting into his head, and he into mine.