Naomi Campbell Talks To Zaha Hadid About Russian Suprematism, 3D Printing, And The Future Of Architecture
Naomi Campbell sits down with architect Zaha Hadid for the December issue of Interview Germany. This isn’t as odd as it may seem, especially when you know that Zaha has designed Naomi’s new house. The supermodel and her billionaire Russian boyfriend asked Zaha to create a huge Russian Suprematist influenced mansion just outside of Moscow. So she did.
Now, I’m going to be honest here, because you don’t know me as any other way. I love Naomi and adore Zaha, but I find the house terribly tacky. It feels like someone’s interpretation of Russian Suprematism in 1972. Like you’d see it featured in a 1970s edition of ‘Home Strange Home’ on HGTV. We prefer today, not a second-tier cable channel’s retro version of tomorrow. Maybe more Kazimir Malevich and less George Jetson?
Okay, now on with the interview…
I was impressed with Naomi’s knowledge of architecture and in particular, Zaha’s background. Naomi asked her about her Russian influences and mentions her days in architecture school where Zaha had created a project called ‘Malevich’s Tektonik’.
“I was a student of Rem Koolhaas”, she replied. “Once we were assigned to come up with a new scale for objects by locating them somewhere. I placed mine on the bridge over the Thames. This was meant to show that works of such suprematists as Malevich and Lissitzky are only seen as art objects because they have no scale to be compared to. But the minute you put scale they become architecture.”
Naomi also brings up a current fascination of mine, 3-D printing. She asks Zaha how she incorporates the rapidly-evolving technology into her work.
“3D modeling allows us to build objects, practically one-offs with the minimal costs. You can’t apply this to buildings as they require engineering, but this is only a matter of time. There’s no need to print out drawings to send them to engineers anymore, it can be done by email. As it is very precise, now you can’t make a mistake, which would be unavoidable if it were made by hand. No need to build a model here, I email it, and they can start working on it wherever they are. It’s practically the same as in car-technology, or airplanes.”
As the two continue to discuss new techniques in architecture, the conversation moves to cultural influence and the architect’s homeland of Iraq.
“In the 60s, when I still lived in Iraq, there was a huge emphasis on education. Every girl would go to university. I always tell the story of a boy who came to work in our house when he was 13. My mother almost adopted him. He came from a dirt-poor family, but became as close as a brother to us. And he could neither read nor write. Eventually he grew up, got married, and bought a house of his own. Within one generation all of his kids went to college. That was an incredible change. But I can’t see this forward thinking anymore, not even among the elite. There are many problems there. The entire Iraq thing was enough humiliation. Another problem is that industrialization is vital, just sitting on oil is not enough. What is happening there now has a lot to do with the inequality, and the clash between the rich and the poor. They need strong leadership to rebuild the system.”
She mentions a time when her parents let her and her friends travel to the marshlands of Southern Iraq.
“We traveled by car, and a few times ended up in the sticks where kids had never seen a car before, and said: Wow! What is that? They clearly thought we were freaks. It was thirty years ago.”
When asked about her favorite fashion designers she replied, “I wear Comme des Garçons, Maison Martin Margiela and Ann Demeulemeester. I even recall that in the 80’s all art-schools would give you a feeling of a fashion parade. Naturally, the first and foremost goal of an outfit was to express one’s individuality. I’ve been interested in fashion since I was a kid. It is fascinating how fashion seems to be competing with architecture. Also it reflects the mood of the time instantly. Of course, they need to prepare in advance, and the timing is entirely different. One must create four to eight collections a year.”
And in true jet set style, the two finished their conversation by sharing beauty travel tips (Naomi uses a honey-covered face mask while flying) and Zaha thinks British Airways ”new first class seats are so bad…”
Naomi says that she can’t comment on that until she turns the tape recorder off. Nice.
For the complete interview, go here.
More pics of the house…