When it comes to Communist countries, their image in aesthetic terms is uniformly bleak.
When you talk to the Canadian architect Philipp Beesley, a long time collaborator of the designer Iris van Herpen, you must rewire yourself. Beesley talks in abstractions – instead of walls and floors and ceilings, you get planes, and motion, and thermodynamics. This isn’t because he’s trying to obfuscate anything, it’s just the way his mind works. In a way it’s a requirement for Beesley, because he has moved on past the traditional architecture of making buildings, which he has done exceedingly well in his career. Instead he creates spaces and environments that operate on a level above the basic requirements of architecture, such as protection from the elements. It’s not that it’s not his concern, but these problems have been thoroughly solved. Instead, he’s more concerned how space interacts with human beings on a philosophical level – freedom, community, interaction. Abstraction is the language that’s required.
Chances are you have not heard of Studio KO unless you keep a very close ear to the ground when it comes to architecture.
Masamichi Katayama, the founder and principal of the Japanese interior design and architecture firm Wonderwall, turned 50 earlier this year. To celebrate his achievements, amongst which are countless retail interiors in Japan and beyond, the german publisher Gestalten released a first comprehensive monograph on Katamaya’s work, Wonderwall: Case Studies ($69).
I did not know that one of the most impressive modern buildings is in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, until I saw its photo in This Brutal World (Phaidon, $49.95). The jaw-dropping structure is a testament to the human aspirations and follies. If architecture, like art, should reflect our world, the still-unfinished (inside) Ryugyong Hotel is it.