Zaha Hadid Speaks! On Aqua Tables, Mass Production, and the Guggenheim

Her Holiness Hadid

This morning, the world discovered that wonderful Zaha Hadid will be showing–and selling–her first collection of haute furniture late this fall at Chelsea’s Phillips de Pury.

Why furniture? Why now? “Well, I mean, it started 20 years ago,” the vacationing Ms. Hadid told The Real Estate by phone. “It was part and parcel of the whole idea of interior space–how pieces fit in with the fluid space.”

In the early 80s, Ms. Hadid’s first solo project was a house on Eaton Place (it won her an Architectural Design Gold Medal). “‘How would you furnish these spaces?'” she asked herself then. The answer: “they weren’t just, like, purely always functional pieces, but large objects that divide space and add to space.”

Why has it taken so long to present her first furniture collection? “It’s been very hectic.”

The Phillips press release touted Ms. Hadid’s “direct dialogue” with its space. But: “I didn’t think about them putting in the gallery per se,” she pointed out. “You have to work with a domestic space, or a lobby, or a work environment.” If December’s $296,000 sale of Aqua Table is any indication, the cost of landing a Hadid piece for your personal enviornment will be wildly steep.

Or maybe not. “I’ve always been interested in doing limited edition pieces, but also mass produced pieces. She pointed to her Alessi tea set, (which, predictably, Bloomberg News recently complained wasn’t actually usable.)

But maybe functionality doesn’t matter when furniture costs a quarter-million dollars. “It so happens that the Aqua Table has a different version as a production piece–more affordable. Most of our work can exist,” she added, referring to mass production (or her version of it). “Though it’s quite different.”

How much does the commoner table cost? “10,000 pounds or something.” $19 grand, at least, is cheaper than $296. “The market is ready. Because of the technology”–especially computerized modeling–” the whole system has changed.”

But the artful questions are still the same: “What does it mean to occupy a space with large pieces or small pieces?” Ms. Hadid wondered. “Linear objects or different geometry? And the way they sit next each other? What is exciting is the possibility of achieving that through different production.”

Those differences may allow for a shift away from the extremities of expense. “It’s no longer one or the other. Not necessarily with these pieces, but let’s say I can do a show that’s exclusive, and then I can do another for mass production. They don’t have to be the same! One’s repertoire can be big.”

Speaking of repertoire, Phillips has announced that this furniture will be Ms. Hadid’s “first work to be made and seen” since her Guggenheim retrospective. “It was a great show. My only–let’s say, not apprehension–but I was very sad that we did not do the central installation in the rotunda. But in a way the show works without it well.”

Will the Phillips show be more perfect? “The furniture is really a lot of fun.”

Max Abelson Zaha Hadid Speaks! On Aqua Tables, Mass Production, and the Guggenheim