As a part of the Federal Design Commission, it was a pleasure to have an extended conversation about her life and work in the context of her distinction with the Swiss Grand Award for Design 2021. As author Jonas Berthod remarked for the occasion,
Her consideration for the full spectrum of knowledge reflects her desire to share and connect with the wider community, addressing issues of representation and visibility outside the university. These activities perhaps define the core of Sarah Owens’s biography: a passion for knowledge that is anti-hierarchical, celebrates plurality and focuses on inclusion, but also a career-long engagement to sharing and collectively building that knowledge.
During the prize ceremony of the Swiss Grand Award for Design 2021, I was honored to give Sarah’s laudatio and present the award.
Cover ofÂ Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design, the accompanying publication to the Vitra Design Museum’s most recent exhibition.Â
I contributed to theÂ catalogue of the Vitra Design Museum’s most recent exhibition,Â Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design,Â with not one but two pieces. One, an interview with CriticalÂ Making and Disobedient Electronics author Garnet Hertz, and another, an essay co-written with Jan Boelen on how the spirit of Papanek lives on in the work of several contemporary designers. The publication is impressive and gathers the voices of many luminaries and experts on Papanek and his significance. I’m happy to be among such incredible authors! You can find out more about the book in the e-shop here.
The Italian Avant-Garde, page detail. Photo by Fabrizia Vecchione for Domus.
When Catharine Rossi first asked me to moderate a conversation between Joseph Grima and Alessandro Mendini for an upcoming publication she was co-editing on the Italian avant-garde of the late 1960s and early 1970s, I have to say I panicked. But a few nights of research led to an absolutely fabulous conversation, in which I merely watched as history happened before my eyes. This meeting of giants has been transcribed as the first chapter of Sternberg Press’ new volume EP Vol.1:Â The Italian Avant-Garde, 1968-1976, edited by Alex Coles and Catharine Rossi, and designed by Experimental Jetset. The book features a series of essays, interviews and explorations of several aspects of this complex, multilayered impulse that was immensely influential. I am humbled and honored to have been a part of it. Read Alice Rawsthorn’s review of the book here.
Braga Municipal Stadium, Souto de Moura Arquitectos. Photo: Luis Ferreira Alves
More on the Souto the Moura front: my commentary on the Portuguese Pritzker, as well as an exclusive interview, are now up on The Architect’s Newspaper. It was a pleasure writing a bit more about this Portuguese architect, whose work I like so much. It was great to interview him, too. A small excerpt here,
Your work is full of quotations of work you admire: the Corbusier-type window in your House in Maia, the Xenakis-imposed rhythm in the House in Barrocal, and Mies in the Burgo Office tower, this last one an homageâ€¦
The Burgo Tower is not an homage. I quote, because those who cannot write quote. What I donâ€™t want is to start from scratch, which is a waste of time and a sign of little intelligence. If there is a set of circumstances to which architects have answered in a way I admire, I would like to use it, because this is part of the continuity that architecture needs. Architecture is a continuous story. Iâ€™m not going to invent a brick angle if Mies already did it in the Dominion Center, but what I can do is to re-think or re-draw it. But I always start from a concrete thing. To start from scratch leads to two things: either itâ€™s stupid, or it leads to an excessive creativity that architecture doesnâ€™t need.