Charlotte Cooper is a Psychotherapist, Cultural Worker and Fat Activist.
“The therapy I do, and maybe therapy in general enables people to think about their lives in ways they hadn’t considered before. It’s about illuminating the dusty corners that they may have forgotten or overlooked, and showing them that there may be value in those places. […] We are in society, and we’re bound by the tensions and rules of society, but there's still a lot of space for agency and choice within those strictures.”
This episode originally aired on 7 March 2018.
Deyan Sudjic is Director of the Design Museum in London
“A friend of mine once said to me no magazine you’ll ever want to read will ever sell more than 8000 copies a month […] What was startling to find is that, when Zaha Hadid was by no means the establishment we did a show with her in my early days at the Design Museum, which sold 75,000 tickets. No book on architecture would ever sell that many copies - and it’s interesting what it is that makes this physical experience work in ways which text doesn’t.”
This episode was recorded as part of the Architecture Foundation's Dodecanalle Summit in April 2019.
David Kohn is an architect based in London.
“The contemporary economies of architectural production inevitably tend toward the shed. The shed is this panacea - everything can be a shed. […] We can now build these vast, expansive structures, and the idea is that they’re kind of good for everything but in fact they rob everyone of all of these other spaces that allow you to be sociable in many more ways [….] We all need this, we need spaces where you can sit with a couple of other people and enjoy a meal or a drink.”
Omer Arbel is an architect and industrial designer based in Vancouver.
“When I talk about the receding of ego in my work, that is the method - I encourage materials to teach me, but there’s obviously an editorial moment in that process where I want a specific aesthetic extreme to emerge […] What I hope to do here in our practice is make work that has a cultural relevance to this very strange moment in time now. If we are rigorous to this time and place in human history, then we make work that is culturally relevant and has a longevity simply because of the fidelity it has to the zeitgeist.”
Mary Duggan was a founding partner of Duggan Morris Architects, and established Mary Duggan Architects in 2017.
“I think [architects] are obsessed with justification, but sometimes in architecture you can’t explain everything. Lots of architects, and I’m not one of them, find an amazing historic building and want to pull it apart to understand it, and want that understanding of it to inform their work, and I just don’t think you need that all the time. I think we’ve forgotten we’re intuitive - that you can go to a site and decide quite instantly what it should be.”
John ‘Sinx’ Sinclair is a founding partner of the digital product design studio ustwo.
“It’s the functionality of something rather than the aesthetics of something that pleases me. Software lends its benefit to that because you can iterate and change. It’s not about just launching [a product] in one big go, but about identifying challenges and making incremental improvements.”
Lütjens Padmanabhan are an architecture practice based in Zurich. “How do you deal with the cheapening of the building, where the value and architectural significance of the building was once based on monolithic weight and closed form, a lack of open joints, a kind of illusion of truthful construction […] When we liberate ourselves from that dogma we can open up towards all kinds of more complex ideas of the relationship between construction and truth”
Tom Emerson is a founding director of 6a architects. “One of the positions that [my teaching] takes is to not distinguish between architecture - the constructed world - and nature […] Somehow to look at the weeds, and the gravel and the rubble, and the forest and the city as equivalent, without hierarchy - they are the environment, they’re the only one we’ve got, and all of them need to be looked after.”
Anna Mill and Luke Jones are authors of the graphic novel Square Eyes. “The future city still has to get designed somehow, and augmented reality is not settled - they need more ideas. In terms of speculative design as a pursuit [...] there’s a positive need for it, but to find a way of doing it that has critical integrity”
Barbara Penner is Professor in the Architectural Humanities at the Bartlett School of Architecture. "[My allegiance] is to feminism and always has been. What’s happened within feminist scholarship is that as the feminist perspective has become less controversial it’s gone underground slightly […] At a recent conference these questions were raised - are we now being too subtle and too implicit about our feminism? […] do we need to once again nail our colours to the mast and be very explicit about our feminism, how that shapes our scholarship, and so on? - that’s quite interesting because it implies that to adopt a certain political position there’s a kind of ethical responsibility to write in a particular way. That’s a kind of live debate - is that self-reflexivity inherent to being a feminist - which implies that there’s a certain rigidity there towards how you should be as a scholar. That moment really interests me - that you’re not just an individual scholar, you’re actually carrying the mantle, and that comes with a certain ethical set of choices that you make about your voice."
OK-RM are a design studio working in the fields of art, culture and commerce.
“'Graphic designer' is something that comes up a lot in this conversation and it’s almost something that we’re anti. We call ourselves a design practice mainly because we really love that idea that what we do could transcend any particular medium or discipline. It’s out of real respect - not for ulterior motives - only because we believe in a universality of design”
Irénée Scalbert is an architecture critic and teacher based in London
“What interests me is how architecture relates to experience […] this is the great question of architecture - how can one make something so intangible and inclusive as experience at home in something as rigid, as inflexible as architecture?”
Stephen Bates is an architect and founding partner of Sergison Bates architects.
“I enjoy the idea [in architecture] that you don’t always see everything immediately - that you have to look again and again, or be invited that bit further in, and a world is uncovered […] In a way that seems to be anti-Modernist, where transparency, borderlessness, threshold-freeness, a blurring of inside and outside, are all absolutely paramount."
Andy Dixon is a painter based in Los Angeles.
“I don’t want to come across like I’m making fun of the rich, or that I’m making fun of my patrons, if anything, I think I’m making fun of those artists who are perfectly willing to accept the money from these people but then pretend that they’re not part of the system. I find that really annoying, and a little dishonest, really - artists who feel it’s taboo to talk about the fact that they are entangled in a world of luxury”
Jack Self is an architect and writer. He is the founding director of the Real Foundation and editor in chief of the Real Review.
“The subjectivity of the white middle class heterosexual male - you know, that’s what the 20th century was about. And when they spoke about Modernism that’s who they thought Modernism was for […] I’ve never felt guilty about owning that subjectivity. On the other hand I feel that once you recognise it, you have to assume responsibility for it, and you have to also ask yourself, given that I occupy this position of privilege and power, how can I use that to advance the causes of others?”
Charles Holland is an architect and former director of Fashion Architecture Taste.
“However much narrative or literary ways into [architecture] that you have, the physicality of the thing you’re designing is increasingly to me what you need to engage in […] Ideas develop now in a different way than they did in the F.A.T. office, and probably that is because they develop with less discussion as a starting point. I’m much happier now to start with a thing and not know what it is, and to follow that process and be a little looser and more open about where it might lead”
Steven J. Fowler is a poet and artist based in London.
“Poetry is a way of mediating our own confusion about the role language plays in the relationship between ourselves and our thoughts, and ourselves and other human beings. It is essentially the problem of other minds, with language put at the forefront […] When I began writing poetry I tried to control language to create emotional insight, and that is what I think most poems try to do […] and it is my belief now that that’s not true.
[…] After trying for a couple of years to write smooth poems about wild animals or foxes or whatever poets do in the countryside I realised actually I can’t control anything, I’m going to die, and that language, before that death, will not comfort me […] The first note of understanding language before you re-displace it as an art form is to understand that it will always fail to communicate what you want to communicate.”
IF_DO are a London-based architecture practice, led by Al Scott, Sarah Castle and Thomas Bryans.
“There’s a general shift at the moment away from a more egotistical architecture and towards a more community based architecture, and I think that comes across in our name and a lot of new practice’s names as well […] We had to think of who we were writing [our manifesto] for - were we writing it for other architects to read, or were we writing it for our clients, for people we are building buildings for?”
Andrew Waugh is a founding director of Waugh Thistleton Architects. “We have climate change […] this issue bigger than anything else that’s ever faced us, and the fact that the vast majority of architects are not discussing it, confronting it, engaging with it, to me seems insane. It seems to me that this could be the end of the idea of architects unless we engage with this issue.”
Maria Smith is a founding director of the interdisciplinary architecture and engineering practice Interrobang. She is also a former founding director of the architecture practice Studio Weave.
“Architecture is very much associated with human flourishing, and that’s what degrowth is all about […] We are all complicit in this, we are all trapped in this paradigm of economic growth, so it’s going to have to involve all of us in some way in order to shift it. With the Oslo Architecture Triennale We’re trying to explore architecture’s role in this thing that arguably is going to happen - the question is does it happen by collapse or does it happen by design."
Correction - Matthew Dalziel's sirname was mispronounced at the top of the show. The correct pronunciation is Dee-ELL.
Shajay Bhooshan is co-founder of the computational design group at Zaha Hadid Architects. "We want to address the social but not without aesthetic language […] I don’t think [the study of housing] can be aesthetic free, and we chose to attach catenaries and descriptive geometry as an a-priori because that’s the language we are most researched in […] One way or another you need a language to attach to these social studies, it cannot happen in a vacuum. There has to be a language attached to the ordering of social processes."
Johanna Gibbons is a landscape architect and founding partner of J & L Gibbons. “There really isn’t any wilderness left on the planet. [Wildness] is to do with how we envisage our landscapes and our relationship with natural processes, understanding where we’ve interrupted them, and appreciating how we can mend and reconfigure them […] Stewardship is what my profession is about, we are stewards of the planet.”
Fraser Muggeridge is a graphic designer based in London. “I’m always trying to create typefaces that are a little bit wrong, that are a little bit off […] We’re in a world now where it’s actually quite easy for graphic designers and non graphic designers to create a piece of communication that actually looks alright. If you use a new font, you don’t really have to do much, whereas if you’ve got a font that’s got a few problems you have to work harder. So I often do that - I often work really hard to make something look nearly normal.”
Philippe Malouin is an industrial designer based in London. “I graduated in 2008 at the height of the financial crisis, and I think it humbled a lot of people […] Nowadays you need to be nice and work hard in order to get ahead, I don’t think being a rockstar and having an ego will get you anywhere.”
Pablo Bronstein is an artist based in London. "I’m from a generation that lives entirely within irony - so that everything is a quotation, everything is double-sided, everything is good and bad […] In order to feel that you’re simultaneously lying and telling the truth, it’s because there is a ‘you’ there somehow - there is a core at the centre that is able to perceive the difference between truth and lie. The majority of young people today have a very different relationship to themselves, and I think it has something to do with how external their lives are now, and how there is less self-formation early on in life, so you are given more options to choose from but they are just a series of options pre-fabricated for you […] I’ve always said that people under the age of 25 don’t really have a sub-conscious. There’s nothing really there, or rather, there’s a lot there but it’s the same all the way through."
Correction: In this interview it is suggested that Adam Nathaniel Furman had written a response to a 2017 Dezeen article by Sean Griffiths. In fact no such response has been published.
Charlotte Cooper is a Psychotherapist, Cultural Worker and Fat Activist. “The therapy I do, and maybe therapy in general enables people to think about their lives in ways they hadn’t considered before. It’s about illuminating the dusty corners that they may have forgotten or overlooked, and showing them that there may be value in those places. […] We are in society, and we’re bound by the tensions and rules of society, but there's still a lot of space for agency and choice within those strictures.”
David Grandorge is an architectural photographer and educator. "Looking at the complexity of the world one can obviously become sad about it. One can become sad about one’s own life, or one’s feeling of the loss of power [...] I think visual solace is a way of coping with one’s ability to deal with these traumas - it's a better way than taking drugs."
Adam Nathaniel Furman is a London based designer. "For me once something is made it achieves this sort of holy status, which requires silence [...] By the time that something is made real, if there’s narrative and depth that’s been part of the process of designing it, that should come across as an atmosphere. There’s nothing I dislike more than being shown something and then needing a text to explain to me what it is."