Prada Frames Makes Asia Debut at Hong Kong’s M+ – WWD

HONG KONGThe first installment of this year’s Prada Frames, a symposium conceived by Milan and Rotterdam, Netherlands-based design studio Formafantasma and backed by Prada to explore the complex relationship between the natural environment and design, kicked off Tuesday at M+, Hong Kong’s global museum of visual culture. The event coincided with the physical return of Art Basel Hong Kong this week.

Under the theme “Materials in Flux,” the symposium started with a lecture by famed architect Jacques Herzog, cofounder of Herzog & de Meuron, the mastermind behind the creation of M+ within the West Kowloon Cultural District, which also hosts the Xiqu Centre and Hong Kong Palace Museum.

Herzog offered a retrospective take on projects that were inspired by and respect the natural surroundings, like the award-winning but never realized proposal to transform the Marktplatz in Basel, Switzerland. As one of the duo’s first projects, it saw him and Pierre de Meuron offering different ways to remind the locals that there used to be a river running across the market square.

Jacques Herzog speaks at Prada Frames Hong Kong at M+ Museum, on March 21, 2023 in Hong Kong, China.

Jacques Herzog speaks at Prada Frames Hong Kong at M+ Museum on Tuesday.

Getty Images for Prada

“In those early days in the ’70s, postmodernism and deconstructive are all things that we didn’t like at all. We hated them and we needed to find our own approach to what architecture could be to create a kind of path on which we could enter this world of architecture,” said Herzog of the Marktplatz project.

Their response, which can be seen through multiple projects, is to design and build based on what’s on-site, such as the Ricola Herb Center in Switzerland, whose facades were made with the soil and gravel found on the location. The same approach can be seen in later projects such as Tate Modern, the Serpentine Pavilion in 2011, and M+.

Commenting on the design of M+, Herzog said that given a train tunnel was passing under the location at the time, he utilized the geometric shapes and concrete walls of the tunnel as a blueprint for the design of the museum.

During a Q&A session after the lecture with Suhanya Raffel, museum director at M+, and Yokoyama Ikko, lead curator of design and architecture at M+, Herzog further explained that the reason he disliked postmodernism was “more unconscious,” because “to not like what surrounds you as a young person is quite common. But the question is, how can you find out about this and how can you find a way which is natural and which opens up a path? You can also dislike something and then you’re getting more and more complicated and you get lost.

“And again, I think it’s a very different situation for people who will begin now. To some degree, you have to kill your ancestors to do something. As you know, postmodernism and deconstructivism were recipes leading to disasters. All the people who worked on that got stuck in their own idiosyncratic prison,” he added.

His advice to young creatives today is that “you should try to avoid form if it’s not necessary because…

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