When Robert Adam designed the classical interiors of Osterley Park on the outskirts of London, he also designed in intricate detail the furniture, the mirrors and other details including the ironmongery on the elegant doors. There is a long tradition of architects such as Robert Adam, William Kent, Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Rennie Mackintosh designing furniture and furnishings to complement their architectural designs and create the perfect interior for their clients. In recent times architects such as Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Marcel Breuer, Alvar Aalto and Eero Saarinen designed items that were sold in their own right to spread modern design and, more recently, Aldo Rossi, Norman Foster and Zara Hadid.
Zaha Hadid’s design gallery in Clerkenwell confirms what a talented designer was lost with her death earlier this year, with her work also being celebrated at an exhibition at this year’s Venice Biennale, while Norman Foster who had now established his Foundation, the first project of which is also on display at the Biennale, has an exhibition at the Aram Gallery in Covent Garden in London showing Foster & Partners’ industrial work over the last 30 years.
Foster’s architecture has always innovative with engineering achieved by working with the world’s best structural and services engineers. The Firm’s interest in industrial and product design is said to have developed in 1981 when the firm moved into new offices in Great Portland Street and couldn’t find a decent draughting table, so it designed its own. Since then, collaborations with clients and with manufacturers have achieved a huge variety of designs including furniture, lighting, ironmongery, yachts and even a small plane. The latest project on show is Maggie’s Cancer Centre in Manchester, opened in April 2016 where the architecture and the furnishings were designed by Foster & Partners to create an integrated designed experience for the clients.
“As an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown”. (Norman Foster)
The exhibition, as at Zaha Hadid’s design gallery in Clerkenwell, includes prototypes, drawings, models and the final products so it is possible to see how furniture and product designs have developed from these two great architects.
“I’ve always thought that design can have equal importance to the idea of internal architecture. Professionally, things can be very dogmatic – you do the architecture, someone else does the interiors, someone else does the furniture, the fabric, etc. But I think design is all-encompassing.” (Zaha Hadid)