Architecture Design Opinion

Do architects design what they eat? Sergio Boccia provides food for thought

April 23, 2020

Sergio Boccia is a Milan-based lighting designer who has worked with some of the top architects such as David Chipperfield, Renzo Piano, Raphael Vinoly and COOP HIMMELB(L)AU in cities around the world including Dubai, Beijing, and Milan.

As the Covid-19 pandemic takes its toll on people not just physically but mentally, it has been observed that unable to move around freely, many people including architects and designers are finding comfort in food. Boccia writes an opinion piece with an acute sense of persiflage in which he imagines what some of the most well-known architects eat and how does it influence their work.

Sergio Boccia

Eating, we fight with death.

Is this never-ending combat affecting architects’ work?

It is a crucial problem that deserves attention.

How consuming a juicy steak or a luminous sorbet is changing our design?

What was Frank Lloyd Wright eating in order to imagine the MoMA? Escargot, I like to think.

This investigation started while I was studying Finnish masters.

Who was the hardest drinker at work: Alvar Aalto or Juha Leiviskä?

I can testify the latter is a talented contender. Considering the lyricism and musicality, he is the Jimi Hendrix of architecture and his diet, whatever the menu, is a very fruitful one.

Renzo Piano is delighted by a personal chef, and there’s a consistency between healthy lifestyle and his socially responsible planning.

What about John Pawson? I predict white rice over off-white rice.

Zaha Hadid? Surely, she was fascinated with cheese fondue considering the ivory melting volumes.

And Claudio Silvestrin? Nothing at all – abstinence is the way to asceticism in architecture.

But surely a meal filled with surprise and sparks should work as a catalyst for creativity?

Assuming a more realistic point of view, the initial syllogism should be reversed: It is what we design to determine our nutrition.

Success brings caviar and abalone; failure pushes us to kebabs and cardboard pizzas.

As explained in Mickey Rourke vs the vegan nuns in The year of the Dragon – a movie enriched with noticeable interiors – the complete fiasco is leading him to junk food, surely not the other way.

Call it transition to maturity: You are what you eat.

Simple and intuitive as a good concept, this is however overshadowed by other factors at play.

Truth is that architects’ diet is a consequence of their success, which is a consequence of how many likes their pictures are collecting – from Instant-food to INSTA-food, the step is short and quick.

Food image courtesy: Modernist Cuisine

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