Looking for Venturi cartoon
The above cartoon does appear in both editions of Learning from Las Vegas.
from Signs of Life: Symbols in the American City exhibition:
The Signs of Life exhibition is further discussed within Architectural Monographs No. 21: Venturi Scott Brown & Associates on Houses and Housing (1992).
CONTOURS: The Divisions that Bind Us
Guy, a lot has been written here by others since you specifically asked me some questions two days ago. I generally agree with what has been written as they realistically broaden the issue of "the public" and/or/versus architectural value. Thus I'd now like to (step back) and address what might just be your real intent, that being to elevate the value of architecture within general culture. My advise to you (specifically as a writer) is to fictionalize this world where you see architectural value elevated. It could be short stories, a novel, or even a series of novels. The point being to create somethng that "the public" can relate to, consume, and hopefully even be inspired by--essentially putting ideas into people's mind via fiction. Also, forcing yourself to really imagine this world and how it manifests itself might just also deliver solutions to what you see as today's real problems.
What I write next may first come off as pure glibness, but take note, nonetheless, as to how fictionalization (or is it all really that?) can put ideas into people's minds.
For many years now I've been furtively writting an epic about architecture and branding. It's working title is I Think People Will [Rita Novel] Like This. Here as some excerpts:
prologue: tailoring sense
It's interesting how much of what Hollander says about suits is really actually about the advertising of suits. Hollander makes much mention of who are wearing suits, and what kind, on TV. There is no mention, however, that all these suit appearances are at base paid endorsements of suits. Even Charlie Rose lets us know he is wearing Ralph Lauren Purple Label. Funny how the guys (mostly paid actors) on TV basically get these 'great suits' more or less for free, simply for wearing a 'label', while the rest of the guys, who are not on TV, have to pay large amounts of money to again basically advertise the same label. This leads me to be very suspect of any analysis of suits that is based on what suits are being worn of TV--it's no different than analyzing suits by looking at what suits are being advertised (by the suit manufacturers/designers) in other media.
The real 'genius' of branding is that (regular) people will eagerly pay large amounts of money for the opportunity to be walking advertisements. Granted, most of the people that wear designer (label) clothes think they are advertising their own (so-called) good taste, but that's not really what's being advertised (at the same people's expense, no less).
The contemporary artists Gilbert and George make a fairly consistent mockery of the suit via themselves and their artwork--somewhat related to the mockery that the uber-wanna-be TV characters of Fraser and his brother make.
Jim Williams of Savannah always wore Dunhill suits. Jim always had the Dunhill buttons removed from the jackets, however, and had them replaced with buttons depicting the Williams family crest. Jim loved telling the story about the time his friend Lance asked if he (Lance) could have the Dunhill buttons to sew onto his non-Dunhill suits.
The first time Jim took me for a night ride in his green Jaguar (the same Jaguar you see Kevin Spacey and John Cusack driving in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), Jim said he wanted to replace the Jaguar medallion in the center of the stirring wheel with a medallion of the Williams crest. Of course I immediately asked if I could have the Jaguar medallion for my car. (I loved making Jim laugh.)
Rem and Zaha already have their brand.
Why don't more architects have their own brand?
That's what I see as the real issue of this thread.
Your last comment may be more to the point then it first appears. Is it possible for architects to market themselves as a service that will essentially brand the client?
Interior decorators maybe kinda sorta do this if they make their clients feel like the product is really a reflection of them, the clients, as opposed to a reflection of the designer.]
Philadelphia even has an architecture high school (or at least I assume it's still in existence), but the topic here is "working the media" and marketing, not education, per say.
I wasn't kidding when I wrote that it would be awesome to see pixelwhore pimping HOT ROD ARCHITECTURE in a commercial. Would this commercial need something like the AIA promoting architecture as well? I don't think so. Would this commercial need something like walking tours and grade school presentations promoting architecture as well? I don't think so.
S is right about specifically knowing what to market, and here the notion of having a brand, albeit not absolutely necessary, nonetheless helps.
Maybe some of the problem stems from the (educated?) notion that architecture is some sort of homogeneous product (like milk or beef), where, in reality, architecture is extremely diverse in its many manifestations. Maybe what the public really needs is to see how many architectures are really available to them
So current-day stylization has a lot to do with covering-up or eliminating the common insecurities of most individuals?
"In case you haven't noticed, identity is a big commodity that many (if not most) US citizens buy into. I am what I wear. I am what I drive. I am the neighborhood I live in. I am the amount of times I visited DisneyWorld. I am my plastic surgeon. I am a branded cell (finally?!?)."
--excerpt from QBVS2
Metamechanic, as far as I can see, there is really nothing stopping you from attempting an architecture on your own terms. Perhaps ultimately try to figure/find out what you are best at as an architect. Maybe you're uniquely good at/for something, or maybe you share a talent with others. Either way you'll be doing your personal best for architecture.
I agree that there is a kind of hegemony operating within architecture today (and definitely since the Modern Movement/International Style), but architecture wasn't always that way. Most of architectures' histories are like languages' histories in that they were all tied/related to specific places on the planet and reflected the culture of those places.
Reflecting on what presently constitutes architectural "history," perhaps architecture is now a world trade commodity more than anything else.
Is the next big thing to mix up the fashion brands? Wear your Foster pants with Woods belt over Eisenman panties? [And regardless of anything else, always pant when you say panty!]
skyrocketing, payoff, edginess, branding a city, nodding to nostalgia, cave-in, bilbao effect
BRIDE FROM THE SIDE
Client: "How do you package your architecture?" Can you package an architecture just for me?"
Architect: "To stage or not to stage? That is the question."
Client: "Can you design me an architecture that reenacts Duchamp's Large Glass? I want something in facets."
Architect: "Madam, that would be a crime. And besides, you don't look good in the nude."
Client: "Well then, can you design me an architecture that is regional and relates to fashion."
Architect" "Of course, Madam. It will look something like this...
Client: "I would like you to design me a powerless architecture."
Architect: "Madam, I have to be honest with you. You're looking for Dime-a-Dozen Architects. They have offices everywhere."
Client: "I would like you to design me an architecture that cracks me up like Duchamp's Large Glass."
Architect: "Madam, you are in luck. That architecture does indeed come in the acropolitan style."
Client: "Wonderful. Now, can you add to that an architecture that hurts like the truth?"
Architect: "Well, I already know what the back door looks like, but, are you sure you can handle it?"
Client: "Can you design me a bothersome architecture?"
Architect: "Are you referring to pro bono work?"
Client: "Can you design for me a confused architecture?"
Architect: "I can try."
1. to perplex or bewilder
2. to make unclear or indistinct
3. to fail to distinguish between; associate by mistake; confound: to confuse dates
4. to disconcert or abash
5. to combine without order; jumble; disorder
6. Archaic. to bring to ruin or naught.
Oh, now I get it. A date with Kate Moss, no figure.
Might I suggest some Idi Amin Cuisine.
So there I was, sometime in the January summer of 1987, walking through the deserted Capitol Building. The new Capitol was almost ready, but they still have to straighten the giant slanting flagpole erected the day before. Went through both Houses, and even sat in the Monarch's chair. And then, while looking at all the Prime Minister portraits hanging in the Central Hall, I leaned again this vitrine back in the corner. So what's this big, old document? "Hey guys, get a load of this. It's the Magna Carta!"
Australia's a trip.
Is the Athenaeum an unacknowledged(?) precursor of Deconstructionist architecture? Walked through every inch of that place sometime the middle of July summer of 1978. It was a Friday, construction almost done, and the place was deserted. Very attractive building. Gorgeous blue sky day.
I had no idea then who Helene Gregoroffshy Fisher and Hannah Fisher Price were. Let alone I might one day live exactly where Hannah was born. They didn't find utopia, although Ottopia found them.
Guess who wrote "Bizarre experiments are now a commonplace of scientific research."
[And speaking of commonplace bizarre experiments:]
"Only if virtual evolution can be used to explore a space rich enough so that all the possibilities cannot be considered in advance by the designer, only if what results shocks or at least surprises, can genetic algorithms be considered useful visualization tools."
You know, if a client came to me an asked for a rich space that would shock or at least surprise them, I certainly wouldn't need a genetic algorithm to accomplish the task.
Do you think I should donate my genetic code to science? I mean, what if they find it's totally random and completely tangential?!?
...tired of doing all the serious work at Quondam... tired of not having creative fun. ...it's time to begin OTHERWISE EYES. ...start "invading" the existing pages with new data that is there like product placement or is disinformation or is just infringement text/imagery.
...the notion of a museum present throughout, albeit a museum completely otherwise.
...feeling that even with the invasion/unethical approach, an architectural philosophy will come through...an iconoclastic approach engendering originality...changing the Ichnographia, adding "bold" topics to the Encyclopedia, P. as a hyper(?) museum of architecture, Synopsis of Architecture by Papidakis and L., "how to be the best architectural client," hyper building additions, religious conversions (Hurva goes Christian, etc.), Seroux and the Denkmal (plus more [like Durand]), the P. model with all the other site plans grafted on, the NOT THERE imagination.
After spending the morning writing a letter to his son Miers Jr. in St. Petersburg, Russia, Miers goes out to garden (where the mailbox is now) and is attacked by a bee, and is ill the rest of the day.
...a riff off the Finale might well be forthcoming, but this thread doesn't seem the place to pursue it. Was wondering if a 'Symphonatic' thread might be worthwhile, where all the various quotations and connections offer fodder for discussion and riffs. Who knows?
The territory/deterritory/reterritory discussion was/is also stimulating--vectors to perpetual motion to football with rednecks. The Vonnegut quotation in the Finale seems somehow germane. Plus, throw scripting and prescripting into the mix. Again, who knows?
Is "Repeat ad infinitum" the way to go?
"a 'hard copy' tool that brings in more architectural clients" -- Was Le Corbusier subliminally advertising? Did the publication of SMLXL coinciding with an exhibit at MoMA bring Koolhaas/OMA more clients? I'll say probably and probably.
(I assume) clients look for someone they can trust, and they probably do that by seeing what architects are already trusted.
But your answer is viable, nonetheless. Just also be aware that the architectural field is repleat with (subliminal) copy-cats.
The client asks:
Are you an architectural brand or are you an architectural knockoff?
The architect responds:
That depends, are you a brand client or are you a knockoff client?
How many clients do you think I'd attract with "hardcopy" entitled Volume and Congestion?
Q, thanks. I'll offer some comments and maybe add some fine tuning.
So, within the 'star system' as outline by Quilian above, who then are the "stars" and what form-buildings got the press? As large as the realm of architecture is, it's still a finite set, so we can actually be specific rather that general. Gehry, Koolhaas, Eisenman, Hadid--are these at least on the list of 'who is a starchitect'? [Was there already an archinect thread asking 'Who are the starchitects?'?]
How buildings get press is what should be much more studied. For example, having "Guggenheim" attached to any building design will get lots of press because the Guggenheim already has a whole staff department devoted to generating press, besides the fact that the major mission of the institution itself is to exhibit. Ironically, the "Virtual Guggenhiem" by Asymptote was pretty much literally just press.
If starchitects are really just pseudo celebrities, is that then already a sign of just how relative starchitect status is?
Is "a style" really such a bad thing? I actually see a lot of diversity from architect to architect, and even with a specific architect's oeuvre there is often diversity at least via nuance, if not actually just plain diversity. I thus question the full validity of "same bag of (increasingly superficial) formal tricks."
One could also argue that there is now-a-days a whole lot more critical architectural criticism going on, but it all right away falls into various camps--New Urbanism, Bilbao effect, anti-starchitect, etc.(?)
Most people I know know absolute nothing about architectural style. I'd go so far as to say that even most architects don't know all that is really going on design-wise now-a-days.
"Lesser known architects follow the public's new tastes."--that sounds very subjective to me.
""Architecture" loses yet another battle." --Is an imaginary battle really a battle? Can an imaginary battle really be lost?
I'll leave it at that, but I think the second set of points of regarding Archigram and backlash casts much too large a net, with big holes. Somewhat insular itself even.
Architects can well design buildings, put I don't think they'll ever be able to design clients. [2012.01.19: Or will they?!]
a must for all clients:
Does Your Architect Wear Boxers or Blobs?
Instinct is not the same thing as reason. To start with, instinct is much quicker.
"Should architectural education begin teaching students how to design buildings that generate publicity? Of course, that includes doing a building correctly in terms of structure and function, however, getting publicity appears to be a new and already prevalent user demand that requires compliance as well. And isn't it common sense for architects to supply what the client asks for?
Then again, it really isn't the architecture or architect that generate the publicity. Rather, it is the advertisement driven publicity/news 'machine'."
"My feeling has been all along, however, that architects and architecture are well capable of generating their own publicity, but professional 'decorum' has for the most part made that attitude an ethically and aesthetically wrong position for architects to take. This 'wrongness' is really just a fabrication, an artificial restraint, and, as always, it is precisely at these artificial points where 'institutions' are the weakest, where the decay happens, where things begin to fall apart. I wholeheartedly advocate architects to embrace publicity as a new, additional ingredient that makes good architecture, the same as firmness, commodity, and delight make good architecture. Furthermore, I hope it takes less than twenty years for architects to begin creating and directing web sites that are just the same as television channels."
What were you doing January 23rd 2001? Blinking?
"It's easy to sit in at a desk and draw up your fantasy world (like di-arc?)...it's much harder to work with others to craft an environment of inclusivity and compromise."
Future School of Ironies, right?
just face the fact that (architectural) education is now something bought, thus be smart and 'design' the best product. Personally, I'd buy low pulp plus calcium whatever brand is on sale.
I like the only video game I've ever played in my life, and thus am well acquinted with the little icons BIG uses to brand each of their designs. In further curating at Quondam, I today happened to past through Morphosis Exhibit Redux again, and was immediately "shocked" by how the image shapes now remind me of BIG icons. A whole new set of building designs began flashing through my imagination.