When it comes to working on small-scale projects, architects have two advantages over other designers. For one thing, they have more practice. A furniture designer can easily make a full-scale prototype of a chair, and a fashion designer will always test their dresses at full scale, but only an architect is used to relying on small-scale models to validate significantly larger designs. On top of that, architects also tend to have better name recognition. If you asked someone who the designer was of a specific plate or glass, they likely wouldn’t know. Ask them who the designer a specific building is, are they’re much more likely to have an answer for you.
With their new 2019 collection of kitchenware, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) are showing that they possess both of those advantages. The firm’s talented designers have been working on varying scales for decades, and they carry the world-renowned name of their late principal, Zaha Hadid. Seriously, their recognition is out of this world. You could see a ZHA building from the International Space Station and instantly know it was theirs.
Today, Zaha Hadid Design (ZHD), established in 2006 by Hadid herself, has created food platters from statuario marble and nero marquina, both of which take irregular shapes that offer a more fun presentation than typical rectangular or square platters. At the center of each platter is a small groove that helps bowls and plates settle without sliding off.
Another piece in the collection, the crystal glass “Swirl” bowl, has been gracefully abstracted to resemble some of ZHA’s iconic buildings. It would be a pleasantly unusual bowl to present fruit and vegetables in, mostly because it looks far more like a sculpture than it does an actual bowl. Then again, the same could really be said of any of the collection’s porcelain plates and bowls, stainless steel centerpieces, vases, candleholders, and trays.
“The strength of the collection lies in our ability to interpret the ordinary into something unexpected,” explains Woody Yao, Director at ZHD and Associate Director at ZHA. “When designing objects, Zaha was never constrained by any given use or spatial context. We continue to follow and draw strength from this approach so that the collection has room to evolve without compromising the integrity of the design.”
Why would architects like Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and Frank Gehry design dishes, furniture, and similarly small-scale trophies? Some clients commission them because they have big names and bring a distinct style to their projects that’s instantly recognizable. By designing commercial products that people can put in their homes and offices, the architects are also giving people the chance to own a piece of their work. Only one person (or one group) can own Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building, but many people can own his Barcelona chairs. Only one person can own Zaha Hadid’s Napoli Afragola railway station, but almost everyone can own pieces from her new kitchenware collection.