Orchis at Hadid Exhibition

Right now and through December 13, 2008, you can check out architect/designer/installation artist Zaha Hadid's exhibition at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York. Having just garnered lots of attention and critical acclaim for her Chanel Contemporary Art Container (currently at Central Park), Hadid continues to surprise us with her mixture of new urbanism and organic forms.

Orchis, seating. Designed by Zaha Hadid.

The Contemporary Art Container looks like a futuristic pod, perhaps something that might even levitate and shoot off into the night. However, like her furniture and wall art showing at Sonnabend, the Contemporary Art Container takes its cues from nature. This is what Hadid excels at: transferring organic shapes into plastic arts. Her dualism may emanate from her very genes, since she is a living binary as well, being a British/Iraqi.

Orchis at Hadid Exhibition

In regard to Hadid’s furniture, the Orchis seating illustrates how she translates the natural into something sculptural. Full of twists and undulations, Orchis alludes to its plant inspiration with a metaphorical precision. Designed in collaboration with Patrik Schumacher, Orchis uses flat and contoured surfaces to recreate the sensual shape of the orchid, the seats extending as protective leaves shielding the inner flower. This parallel is intensified by the Orchis’ metallic green color, which reinvents the leaf into something more intense-a genetically modified varietal born of some pristine laboratory by a mad botanist. On a side note, the orchid fascinates quite a few designers (see Sebastian Gronemeyer’s Orchid Chair ).

The best of Hadid’s pieces use this emphasis on the natural to create the spectacular; it’s as if reality provides more than enough strangeness and beauty to funnel into cutting edge design. Technology seems to be an extension of the organic. A brief mention here is owed to Hadid’s Stalactites ceiling installation, a cavernous dark sky that appears the domain of some technophiliac fairy tale vixen; and her wall sculpture, a glistening web from some radioactive spider. But the Orchis dominates Hadid’s showing of more traditional “furniture”-without the quotation marks, the Orchis might be mistaken for something less than art.

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