More Identities

April 6, 2009

The collaboration between OMA and Prada that started a decade ago has produced not only some of its most recognizable flagship stores, but also it has helped to redefine the Italian brand. In March of this year they announced their latest collaboration, a new pavilion that reorients itself to host multiple cultural events. We won’t lie to you, we like OMA.


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Prada Transformer, Seoul. © OMA/AMO.

We selected this project for this issue of the journal because we are really intrigued about its possibilities, the idea of reorienting and reconfiguring a building to host different cultural events. The design itself is something that we also have been talking about, but frankly, it is not the reason to have it in the journal. We like architecture that changes, adapts to the uses and the context, needs to be discovered and surprises the visitor, and shows something new every time we visit it. Some buildings achieve all this in a figural way. We expect this proposal to do it in a literal way. Here is the press release for the specific details of the project.

Launching in Seoul at the end of April 2009, the highly anticipated Prada Transformer designed by OMA/Rem Koolhaas will showcase a groundbreaking series of cross-cultural exhibitions, screenings, and live events. For five months this shape-shifting venue will host multiple interdisciplinary projects, bringing a unique mix of visual arts to Korea.

The Transformer combines the four sides of a tetrahedron: hexagon, cross, rectangle, and circle into one pavilion. The building, entirely covered with a smooth elastic membrane, will be flipped using cranes, completely reconfiguring the visitor’s experience with each new program. Each side plan is precisely designed to organize a different event installation creating a building with four identities. Whenever one shape becomes the ground plan, the other three shapes become the walls and the ceiling defining the space, as well as referencing historic or anticipating future event configurations.

“Waist Down – Skirts by Miuccia Prada”, an ongoing project by Miuccia Prada in collaboration with AMO, makes its Korean debut on April 25, showcasing a collection of skirts “in motion” ranging from the first ever Prada show to the present day. Skirts by emerging Korean fashion students will be included to show the interaction between two fashion worlds and to amplify the meaning of fashion from different cultural perspectives.

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Prada Transformer, Seoul. © OMA/AMO.

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Prada Transformer, Seoul. © OMA/AMO.

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Prada Transformer, Seoul. © OMA/AMO.

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Prada Transformer, Seoul. © OMA/AMO.

The exhibition space will then be transformed into a cinema showing a program of films selected by Alejandro González Iñarritu, the director of Oscar-winning Babel. “Flesh, Mind and Soul” is the concept for the unique program—to be launched on June 26—co-curated by film critic Elvis Mitchell, spanning multiple genres, countries, and decades of filmmaking including a rich and substantial amount of physical, intellectual, and spiritual films that will create a whole cinematic experience.

Subsequently, the Prada Foundation will present an exhibition, Beyond Control, curated by Germano Celant, which will “transform” the interior of the architectural object by OMA into an inspiring magma of works by some of the most significant contemporary artists.

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Prada Transformer, Seoul. © OMA/AMO.

Further cultural activities will be announced in the lead-up to the launch of the project. Prada and the Prada Foundation have combined their resources with their local partners’ to develop an extraordinary program for the Prada Transformer’s innovative, changing stages. As the fields of fashion, art, film, design, and performance now inform and influence each other with increasing diversity and complexity, this program aims to stimulate and embrace multidisciplinarian discourse.

Situated next to the sixteenth-century Gyeonghui Palace, the Prada Transformer—realized with the support of LG Electronics, Hyundai Motor Company, and Red Resource Inc.—dramatically juxtaposes Korean history, tradition, and folklore with this twenty-first-century multidimensional event space. Due to Seoul Metropolitan Government’s passion and dedication to cultural projects, the Prada Transformer was well received and fully supported by the City. Visibly attuned to Seoul’s modern positioning as a forward-looking and technologically advanced metropolis, the Prada Transformer is part of Prada’s global commitment to the production of new realities in fashion, art, architecture, and creative culture.

The architectural project is led by Rem Koolhaas together with associates Kunle Adeyemi and Chris van Duijn, and design architect Alexander Reichert.

Programmed Events

Miuccia Prada – “Waist Down – Skirts by Miuccia Prada” Exhibition
After creating sensations in Tokyo, Shanghai, New York, and Los Angeles, this amusingly displayed exhibition of Prada skirts ”in motion” comes to Seoul. The skirt is often overlooked as a medium of invention, at once flirtatious, imaginative, enigmatic, and structural. Here Miuccia Prada and OMA/AMO playfully reexamine the ability of the skirt to prompt further cultural and emotional explorations of desire, sex, and identity.

Alejandro González Iñárritu – Cinema Programme: “Flesh, Mind and Soul”
The director of Oscar-multinominated Babel, 21 Grams, and Amores Perros is one of the key protagonists of the Mexican new wave of directors who have made a huge impact on cinema in recent years. The film program is based on physical, intellectual, and spiritual films that attend, shake, and speak to the different parts with which we feel and perceive cinema. Co-curated by renowned film critic Elvis Mitchell, the unique grouping of films should leave viewers “both sated and hungry for more.” Elvis Mitchell is a former film critic of The New York Times and has most recently turned his talents to television, hosting KCRW’s The Treatment and his own show Under the Influence for TCM. Iñárritu’s hard hitting and powerful style of filmmaking is grounded in a strong sense of neo-realism, often featuring character-driven, method actors like Benicio Del Toro, Sean Penn, Cate Blanchett, and Naomi Watts. His stories always have a political and social commentary underlying their plots, which at their core tend to focus on the fragility of family relationships.

Fondazione Prada – Art Installation: “Beyond Control”
Founded fifteen years ago, the Fondazione Prada, conceived by Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli and directed by Germano Celant, has strived to create a ”force field” in which all artistic languages might converge and radiate energies. This perspective has enabled the Fondazione to center its commitments on the creation of unique projects, installations, exhibitions, conventions, and festivals in which ”impossible” ideas might be brought to fruition.