Friday, February 28, 2014

Francois Halard / La Malcontenta / Zaha Hadid

Many years ago in design school I studied the architecture of Andrea Palladio.  Based on symmetry, his villas were the country homes of wealthy Romans and Venetians where they spent time away from crowded, polluted cities and entertained lavishly.  

In the 1500's Venetians Nicolo and Alvise Foscari commissioned Palladio to build their country house and Villa La Malcontenta is the glorious result.  

Image via

Exterior of La Malcontenta via

Floorplan of La Malcontenta via

Ceiling frescoes of La Malcontenta via

To commemorate Palladio's birth 500 years before, a descendant of the villa's original owners - Guilia Foscari - commisioned architect Zaha Hadid to present a sculpture designed by Mariagrazia Lanza and Fulvio Wirz at La Malcontenta.  After the installation, Francois Halard photographed the sculpture.  It was on the pages of his self titled book I discovered these stunning images.  


The sinuous winding sculpture is perfectly juxtaposed against the villas ancient, frescoed interiors and I found it hard to stop staring at the pages.  


Dramatic to say the least, one would expect the looming sculpture to demand a viewers full attention.  However, the frescos seem to perfectly balance the sculpture and demand attention of their own.  The two equally complement one another which is surprising.  In fact they seem to have synergy.  

This is what I love about great design.  When two opposite styles merge to create vitality and interest.  One is ancient, one is modern.  The sleek, steel sculpture covered in smooth fiberglass is the complete opposite of the soft, age-worn and fleshy frescoes.  
But somehow, it all melds together wonderfully.  

Next time I visit Italy La Malcontenta will be on my list to see and I encourage you to pick up a copy of Francois Halard's beautiful book.  It is a treasure trove of his fantastic memories and images.      
Until Next Time, 

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