Fashion and Architecture (English)

Fashion and architecture have many distinguishing features in common and they have never been as connected as they are today. Architecture is increasingly considered in terms of a brand to sell, which carries positives and negatives consequences. Within this frame, many fashion brands have taken the decision to collaborate with important architectural practices, establishing a symbiotic publicity that benefits both.

It is easy to find several examples of these associations: Rem Koolhas and Herzog and de Meuron with Prada, Toyo Ito with Tod’s, Jun Aoki with Louis Vuitton or Zaha Hadid with Chanel are just a few examples showing these collaborations.

There are important architects, such as Odile Decq, who affirm unashamedly that their architecture is comparable to the haute couture designs in the fashion world: a luxury article, for which it is worth paying because is customized and designed with quality. The bigger offices are increasingly leading to the creation of a brand, but does it benefit architecture?

The threat imbued into considering the architecture solely in terms of fashion means to succumb to the superfluous aspect of a design, while the current aesthetic values may not be relevant in the future. The architecture must coexist with the city over centuries and the validity of a building cannot depend exclusively on fashion. A building should be dependent on a range of functional rules, making it a timeless object.

Architects have generally arrived late and unpreparedely to the “branding fever”. For the first time and due to the lack of work, we have realized the importance of selling our architecture, aiming to get more clients. It is easier to sell a recognizable brand to a client than trying to explain to him the beauty of our creative process when we work on a project. Therefore if we have a recognizable image in our work, it will be easier to find clients who will identify with our architecture. Nevertheless, while it sounds easy to achieve in theory, in practice it is not so.

We are never going to find two identical contexts in two different projects. Indeed, it is a mistake to succumb to the branding concept without considering that it will affect dramatically the architecture’s quality and its way of cohabitation with cities.

Fashion has adapted to everybody’s lives, no matter their social status, in a very smart way and this is exactly what architects should achieve. We could distinguish a kind of architecture for the masses, with a care for design, but employing economical materials. The architect’s ingenuity would be essential in order to obtain a fine result with basic tools. If we extrapolated this to the fashion world, it would be analogous to ZARA, H&M or Mango: brands capable of offering highly appreciated clothes at very competitive prices. This is possible thanks to the use of economic materials and cheap production processes.

On another level, we would find quality brands such as Hermés, Chanel or Louis Vuitton, where high prices rely on the final product quality and the exclusivity of having only a few units of each product.

Finally we would have the exclusivity of the individualized designs made by tailors, where every product is unique. We talk about the luxury sector. Prime quality materials and large creation processes aiming to be at the head of the avant-garde.

Architects today are not in a position of burying their heads in the sand to consume society. There is tough competition in every discipline and not always are the most successful professionals the best, whereas the ones which are more capable of making the most of its possibilities through its branding.

We should commit neither the mistake of creating ready-to-mass-consume-buildings nor considering that the quality architecture’s future relies exclusively on the luxury sector. We have to be aware that it is not possible to bring the same architectural answer to different situations and clients. Even though we would all like to create a building with the best materials and “floating” structures, reality says that we should identify whether we can afford this in a project or not. In spite of feeling frustrated, we should be smart enough to obtain a high quality project with very economical tools.

Our best branding is the unique way of thinking and creating spaces that we have, not a temporary fashion style. Let’s sell inventiveness, let’s forget frivolousness. 


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