NEW YORK — It seems as if an architect isn’t worth his or her drafting pen unless it’s also been used to design a line of furniture, pasta, toys or some other household object.
Michael Graves’ small kitchen appliances for Target brought refined design to the masses, and Philippe Starck created luggage for Samsonite and panties for Wolford. Now Pritzker Prize winner Zaha Hadid is weighing in with everything from a Louis Vuitton handbag to a three-wheeled car.
The worlds of fashion and architecture are intersecting, as brands hire boldfaced names to design their flagships — think Rem Koolhaas and Prada, and Frank Gehry and Issey Miyake. Hadid has yet to design a boutique, but she is dabbling in fashion.
“We’re looking at a conceptual handbag for Louis Vuitton,” said Patrik Schumacher, a partner in Zaha Hadid Architects. “It’s a take on one of the classical handbags, stretched out like a hose.”
Schumacher said there may be collaborations with Vivienne Tam, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto, all of whom Hadid counts as friends. “She’s full of ideas on dresses and clothes. Another area of interest is jewelry,” he said.
“We’re working with Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel on a pavilion. We’re interested in cross-connections. [Hadid] and [Lagerfeld] respect each other’s work.”
The architect is talking to Stella McCartney about designing a catwalk for her show. “We’ve designed opera sets,” Schumacher explained. Last year Hadid created the Aqua table for Established & Sons, the firm run by McCartney’s husband, Alasdhair Willis. The Aqua table sold for $296,000 at auction at Phillips de Pury in December. A Phillips auction in November will feature Hadid’s “seamless” furniture.
Like many celebrated architects, a good number of Hadid’s projects haven’t progressed beyond the theoretical stage. A party in Hadid’s honor Sunday, hosted by London art dealer Kenny Schachter at the Fifth Avenue penthouse of Schachter’s mother-in-law, Denise Rich, celebrated something concrete, the Z.Car, which is part of the Guggenheim Museum’s retrospective of her work.
Schachter, an avid collector, commissioned the Z.Car, a lightweight feat of engineering. He wanted a three-wheeled “concept car” that reflected the Hadid studio’s design aesthetic, and he insisted that it be environmentally advanced. The car also would have to run — there would be no shallow form without function, he decreed.
With storage up front and the engine in the back, the Z.Car has a large, asymmetrical front door hatch that gives drivers a panoramic view. Schachter hopes to test-drive a prototype in seven months.
“It was not difficult to design the car,” Hadid said. “It took three months. Our ambitions were to portend the future.”
Hadid, who is known both for her temper tantrums and her talent, arrived late to the party, dressed all in black, a silver leaf-shaped brooch pinned to her sweater. “Miss Hadid, I am such an incredible fan of your work,” said a young man. “Thank you,” she replied quietly. It was unclear whether she was flattered.
On a table, $1,000 limited editions of Schachter’s quarterly design publication, Rove, were stacked neatly, each resting in the Corian box designed by Hadid. Each issue is devoted to an artist, who will design a car and a box.
“Next is Vito Acconci, then Kenny Scharf and Hani Rashid of Asymptote,” he said. “I’m hoping to get David Lynch and Robert Wilson. They were going to collaborate on a car. Richard Prince is someone I’m dying to get. He’s always made sculptures of car hoods and I heard he just bought a body shop.”
Hadid also designed a new gallery for Schachter with an undulating roof and balconies carved out of the side of the building. “It’s a very simple project, because in London you can’t do too much,” she said.
The gallery, which should bow in 18 months, will be Hadid’s first finished commission in the city, unless a project for the Architectural Foundation of London gets done sooner. The building will have retail space on the ground floor and six apartments above. “I’ve had interest from agnès b.,” Schachter said. “I may consider renting out part of it.”
Schachter, who delights in giving architects challenging assignments, sees the blurring of genres and distinctions continuing. He is trying to further expand Hadid’s horizons. “I’m trying to get her to do a toilet,” he said. “I think she will. I want to put it in the Basel Art Fair.”