I have to admit I am always deeply influenced by the book I read, moreover while I am reading them. I guess I am not an exception, but, when I become passionate about what I am reading I cannot help relating it to new things I see, learn of experience.
And this is the case of VITRA. I have been learning about Steve Job’s desire for pure design over the last weeks, and I have the impression that if he would have founded a furniture-design business, VITRA would have been it, specially after the announcement of the last project tin collaboration with the Pritzker Prize-winning Renzo Piano.
This new project, named “Diogene” after Diogenes’ consideration that “worldly luxuries were superfluous”, is a self-contained minimal living space, and it is so minimal it is hard to categorize it as a small building or as a big product. It’s a 2.5 x 3 meters area that tries to give form to Renzo Piano’s minimal housing fascination. Despite the fact that his Workshop deals with huge projects such as “The Shard” in London (2012), or the modern wing of the Art Insitute of Chicago (2009), he still wanted to open a new division that would, for his own interest, research on this topic.
Nevertheless this is not the first time he approached his curiosity, in 1960 while teaching in the Architectural Association of London he decided to design, along with his students, the “Bedford Square”, an also minimal living space. But as time goes by, the interests architects have in this minimal project shift from social considerations as in the 1920’s, to minimalism and structuralism in 1960 (when Renzo Piano first decided to take action and build something that would responds to this matter) and nowadays which may be a more mobile approach (there has been a past post in this Blog that referred to this exact concern).
Diogene is divided in three basic units, the livingroom-bedroom, a bathroom and a minimal kitchen. These three spaces have been reduced to the truly essential, and therefore minimizes the ecological footprint. Also it is a 100% self-sufficient unity that can be placed wherever needed, the buyer can assign this industrially produced building whatever he thinks is the best program. At first glance it is elegant, simple and as pure as it can be, another of the reasons why I can’t help to think about Steve Job’s and John’s Ive obsession with purity in design. But it comes as no surprise when they later explain to you that the purity achieved is charged with a great deal of technology and sophistication.
As some may have intuit while reading, minimal living space is not the only currently relevant consideration brought up by this little creature. The fact that we keep rethinking that which is enough to live with after these past tough years that have changed many peoples lifes is of special importance in the field of architecture. By changing the space where people live, we can make the world a better place by changing their perception of space, design and basic needs.
And last but no least, I was gladly impressed by the ability of Renzo Piano and his team no change their gaze from huge projects that may change the perception of a city and, therefore, impact on urban scale, to something so minimal that it applies directly on one individual. There is, in fact, no difference between society and individuals, but it is admirable that we are reminded that no matter what scale the project has, we can still change the people live.