Where does Zaha Hadid get her inspiration from?

Why Zaha Hadid is more relevant than ever - a conversation with gallery owner Isabelle Bscher

Zaha Hadid: thought leader, pioneer, role model and icon

The Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid (1950–2016) was and is one of the world's most important representatives of her profession. She was inspired by Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Suprematists, did not accept right angles, endured a lot of criticism and never lost faith in herself. Her early death left a gap that could not be filled. The exhibition "Abstracting the Landscape" in the Zurich gallery Gmurzynska deals with the non-building work of a woman of the century who was considered a diva because she challenged builders and sometimes broke off interviews when the topics did not suit her. With these characteristics, she not only managed to maintain her place in a domain dominated by alpha males, but also to change it permanently. The stubborn visionary mastered the grand gesture and created solitaires, from museums to museum furniture. We talk to Isabelle Bscher, host of the Gmurzynska Gallery, about dreams, storming the sky and breaking through the glass ceiling.

Isabelle Bscher from Galerie Gmurzynska in an interview about Zaha Hadid

VOGUE: Why is Zaha Hadid more relevant than ever to this day, far beyond her premature death?

Isabelle Bscher: On the one hand, because the story of Zaha Hadid gives hope and sounds like a fairy tale. Allegedly, at the age of eleven, she already knew for sure what her career path would look like. As a girl in Baghdad in the early 1960s, she dreamed of pursuing a career as an architect, which seemed unlikely at the time. As a young woman, however, after a detour via Beirut, she moved to London and began studying architecture there. Then she becomes a lecturer, designing the most amazing buildings that win prizes and that everyone talks about but that are never built. They only exist on paper forever. But then, after a seemingly endless dry spell, which is characterized by a lot of work and little money, she is suddenly catapulted into the architect's heaven. Her dream comes true, she is declared a genius, and suddenly everyone finds her buildings wonderful. They are actually unique and recognizable at first glance. Which, by the way, applies to all of her projects, including furniture, sculptures and so on. That in itself is a work of art.

Isabelle Bscher, owner of the Gmurzynska Gallery in Zurich

© PR

Zaha Hadid seems to have anticipated the important topics of this time in life and work: female architecture, diversity, inclusion, amorphous forms ...

Zaha Hadid was an absolute pioneer, a free-thinking genius. It revolutionized architecture because it never accepted conventional or traditional boundaries. It has proven that women can very well become architecture stars and that it is possible to make concrete float, let steel meander or glass flow. This was due to her feminine approach and her unusually soft lines. Today you can no longer imagine them without, so we no longer realize HOW revolutionary it was back then. Shortly before her death, at the beginning of 2016, at the award ceremony of the Royal Gold Medal, she said: 'We are now seeing more and more women who have made a name for themselves as architects' when she was asked about the one-sided gender relationship in star architecture . But she also said that despite her success, it 'hasn't really gotten any easier'.

How did the contact between your gallery and Zaha Hadid come about?

Zaha Hadid already developed a fascination for the Russian avant-garde during her student days, especially for Kazimir Malevich. Even her early works were strongly inspired by him. The gallery's active collaboration with Zaha Hadid began in 2010 with the idea of ​​creating a symbiosis of their knowledge of the Russian avant-garde and their architectural work, which has evolved since the Guggenheim exhibition. The result was our 2010 exhibition "Zaha Hadid and Suprematism". Personally, I first met her at her exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The gallery's close collaboration with her continued until her death.

Zaha Hadid meets Isabelle Bscher at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In the middle Lapo Elkann

© Jorge Herrera / BFAnyc.com

In your opinion, what is the most outstanding achievement of Zaha Hadid?

These are of course many merits, not just one. She broke through the glass ceiling! She was the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize in 2004. She had a tremendous impact on the next generations of architects, not least because she taught as a professor at Harvard and Columbia Universities. The fact that she exceeded the limits of what was previously conceivable with her buildings inspired a whole generation of young architects, but above all women architects. Apart from that, each of its numerous incredible buildings is a merit for making the world more interesting in the long term, from the Maxxi Museum in Rome to the opera in Guanghzou. I myself consider it a privilege to be able to experience their design and their art up close.

In your opinion, what would Zaha Hadid do for a living if she were still alive today?

As a young woman, Zaha grew up in Baghdad, in a very liberal family that gave her an unusually large amount of freedom from an early age. It has been no problem for her to design her own unusual clothes and wear them in public, and she has not stopped shaping her world herself in all of her life. That's why I believe that she would still do the most interesting and innovative projects in art, architecture and design today. As a creative person, she would be able to keep up with the times.

Architecture in a domestic format: "Mesa" table (in the middle), shelves and much more

© Courtesy of Galerie Gmurzynska

What is the most important and exciting piece of your current exhibition in Zurich?

The pictures from The Peak Leisure Club are amazing. It is a design from 1982 to 1983 for a building that was supposed to rise above the noise and traffic chaos of Hong Kong. It's one of my favorite buildings of hers, and it's like a suprematist vision. I also personally think the 'Mesa' table is fantastic, I would love to put it in my house myself.

Where did you get the various exhibits from?

Her office in particular helped us, especially the German architect Patrik Schumacher, who worked intensively with Hadid on a number of projects and later became a partner in Zaha Hadid Architects. Patrik Schumacher is a person who knows her work, customers and collectors like no other.

Exhibits from the Zaha Hadid exhibition in the Gmurzynska gallery in Zurich

© Courtesy of Galerie Gmurzynska

Why was Zaha Hadid so ahead of her time? What did she have, what was she doing that no other architect had or did before and after?

She didn't treat architecture like architecture, but rather like sculptures. This resulted in buildings that are different due to their curved facades, sharp angles and strict industrial materials such as concrete and steel. More than any other architectural artist, she has shown us that it is worth staying true to yourself and your own vision. She still has a role model function that goes far beyond the purely professional.

"Abstracting the Landscape" in the Gmurzynska Gallery in Zurich runs until July 31, 2021,Gmurzynska.com.