Zaha Hadid Brings Her Biomorphic Approach to Liquid Furniture

  • Zaha Hadid by Brigitte Lacombe. Image courtesy David Gill Gallery.

British design gallerist David Gill first met architect Zaha Hadid in the mid-1980s. Both new to London’s creative set, they immediately bonded over their shared appetite for bucking convention. But it wasn’t until 2007, when Hadid became interested in designing furniture, that the two had an opportunity to work together. Their inaugural project, “Dune Formations,” debuted that year at the Venice Biennale. Part installation and part furniture collection, the showcase consisted of sleek alien landscapes forged from Hadid’s futuristic, yet functional, interlocking forms. The success of this eye-catching environment encouraged the first-time collaborators to push even further into unknown territory.  

Soon after, Hadid set to work creating a furniture collection that picked up where “Dune Formations” left off. Intrigued by innovative methods of fabrication, Hadid capitalized on Gill’s willingness to manipulate new technologies. The results of their toils, “Liquid Glacial,” premiered at Gill’s gallery in 2012. Harkening back to the fluid visual lexicon initiated by “Dune Formations,” the acrylic tables of “Liquid Glacial” draw from the natural curvature and unique architecture of ice formations. “The ‘Liquid Glacial’ pieces express a design language that has been developed with the concept and material in mind,” explains Hadid. “Digital codes that simulate water flow patterns were used to derive ridges that simulate water ripples. These ripples occur at stress points within the form, reinforcing its structural stability.”  

This collection of spindly-legged, clear tables spurred Hadid to expand on the technique—resulting in the creation of the Prototype Liquid Glacial Table (2013), whose flat, undulating top mimics a puddle of water. But it wasn’t until this summer that Hadid applied her biomorphic approach to other objects including a chair and a bowl. Transparent and rippling, the chair looks poised to swell skyward—or melt into the floor—at any moment.

“People are amused by them,” says Gill. “They have a ‘light’ quality, and yes, sometimes there is an air of hesitation, but once told you can sit, the function is practical and the experience is complete.” It is this compelling synthesis of uncertainty and wonder that permeates the collection. Adding color to the repertoire, blues and grays augment the sense of movement that runs through each piece.

  • David Gill and Zaha Hadid at “Liquid Glacial.” Image courtesy David Gill Gallery.

After a stint this summer at Gill’s London outpost, the collection will be traveling to New York in November for Salon NY—where Hadid’s stateside fans will have a chance to reflect on the new work.  

—Kat Herriman

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