Prada kicks off the latest installment of its Prada Invites project, which sees Miuccia Prada personally ask different designers to create functional objects using the Prada Nylon, by teaming up with three new exceptional architects. Cini Boeri, Elizabeth Diller and Kazuyo Sejima explain in their own words their inventions for the innovative project.
CINI BOERI / ITALIAN ARCHITECT AND DESIGNER
Nylon is a very versatile material. It is used in a thousand different ways: from parachutes to garments. It was interesting to use it in this project. I re-elaborated an idea of mine conceived in the late Sixties, but never went into production. I remember only having made a prototype and having photographed it. Starting from those shots, the only source remaining, along with my collaborators, I completed the initial idea for this project – the idea of a bag that can be expanded or reduced according to need. I tried to design it so that it is always useful and appropriate, in any situation; the detachable section allows the user to customize it according to need. I wanted a “changeable” bag adaptable to the user and to the form of use.
I approached this work in the same way as for other design projects, so there were no big differences in the process itself. The difference in this case is that the object drawn, in addition of being used, is worn, but I have nevertheless focused on its function, from which the shape and then its external image derives. Designing a bag for me means creating a simplification in use, an easier handling of its weight, as well as a suitable image.
It is difficult today to design an object that says something new, that has a certain flexibility of use. The only clear stimulus that I feel is to get away from all those eccentric forms that have invaded our planet in recent years and think of something that can be seen and used quietly and pleasingly from yesterday to eternity. That is what I have tried to do.
Whether designing a house, a table or a dress, I always apply the same commitment and introduce my convictions. When I work, I feel myself an architect and designer regardless of the object I’m working on. Probably my approach, sensitivity, scale of values are different to those who deal exclusively with fashion. I hope the bag will be used freely, casually and without fixed patterns of use. I hope everyone can make use of it according to their needs and dreams.
KAZUYO SEJIMA / JAPANESE ARCHITECT
It is not the first time that I’ve designed a fashion item, but it is the first time I have designed a bag. The brief from Prada was to design something out of the brand’s iconic nylon – there was no specification on the type of object, or color of fabric. I liked the idea of creating something wearable and fluffy, so that you can personalize the item.
There is a huge difference between approaching the architecture of a building and designing a fashion item when it comes to production period and working speed, but the process of making a shape from an idea is the same. The bag [we designed] is something that is always close to your body. At times you end up hugging it, and other time you put it over your shoulder: much like a pet. And because it’s your own “pet”, it was important to be able to personalize the bag – shape, accessories, the way you hold it, the way you use it, and where you take it. The personalized pet becomes your friend.
Prada’s Nylon is very beautiful and practical. I really like the balance of its firmness and weight. It was a challenge at the start to find ways to make the fabric inflatable, but we found a way. I wish I had more time to study the material further. It would be very interesting to design some other items like clothes out of Nylon.
ELIZABETH DILLER / AMERICAN ARCHITECT AND CO-FOUNDER OF FIRM, DILLER SCOFIDIO + RENFRO
We wanted to capture the spirit of both Prada’s start with luggage, as well as the evolution in incorporating black nylon. We began to think about bringing together the world of functionality into a more artistic experience and transform it into something unexpected. I think that is an alignment with Miuccia and the way she thinks. Everything that we do is essential, but also expressive—functional and flexible without being generic.
We were interested in merging two categories: garments and luggage. We created two articles that you could think of as accessories, but now on the body as fashion. This was the problem we created for ourselves. Luggage and garments are typically understood in different ways, displayed in different parts of the store, but we want to conjoin the two categories. We wanted each piece to have a dual purpose – an ambition consistent with our work.
There are so many accessories conceived for the head, for the hands, the feet. But the shoulders are one of the most productive parts of the body. The Yoke – a vehicle of labor transferring the load across the shoulders—was an object of inspiration for us for our wearable bag. We loved the idea of everything having multiple functions. You can wear the Yoke over your shoulders or collapse it and use it as a clutch.
[For the Garment Bag] we took a closer look at the fundamental details of a standard garment bag: the zipper going down the entire piece to the cowl that partially covers or protects that opening. The bag can be folded up and attached to the hanger to make it easier to transport. Those essential details were a great starting point to think about how this garment bag could actually be a piece of outerwear. How can you convert a bag into a coat? We realized that by simply revisiting the geometry of the carrying case and utilizing clasps, the bag could be tailored to the body. Our hope is this piece could be one-size fits- all.
For me, Prada represents not always knowing what you’re going to get. It’s truly an experiment. I like that approach of not going in with certainty. Prada’s real proximity to architecture and art and fashion, is an assurance that sensibilities will be picked up. The three of us architects definitely know how to make buildings and cities, but to make something that can be worn closely to the body is something relatively new for most of us. The invitation let us loose to do something that’s smart, expressive and within our interests. And it felt very consistent with the spirit of Prada in general, which operates at the intersection of art and architecture.
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