Art & Fashion Biennale


This project was a collaboration between German fashion designer Jil Sander and the Italian Arte Povera artist Mario Merz for the first Biennale of Florence, Arte/Moda.  Along with six other collaborations between artists and fashion designers, the pair was assigned an individual pavilion designed by architect Arata Isozaki. Sander and Merz transformed their pavilion, which was open to the outside, into a wind tunnel inspired by the form of a 10-foot-diameter cylinder. One end of the tunnel was fitted with an oculus through which the viewer could gaze into a vortex of blowing leaves and flowers through the length of a suspended fabric cone (actually a rigorously formulated mathematical shape calculated by tensile engineers in New York). 

Gabellini Sheppard Associates designed and engineered the project, utilizing fabrication techniques from the garment industry, ship-building, and building construction.  The fabric structure was hand-made in New York, primarily from Lycra. Using circus tent technology, the material was fastened to one-inch perspex walls at either end, which in turn were reinforced by steel strong-backs, adapting a structural element more commonly used in high-rise curtain walls.  The outer shell of the pavilion was produced from cylindrical steel sections that were fabricated in an Italian shipyard and installed and clad on site by local artisans.

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Art & Fashion Biennale, Florence