We need to focalize on the essence of architecture. We use to understand architecture through plans, facades, golden sections, external walls, verticality and horizontality – this approach of ours is not helpful in perceiving the space. Architecture doesn’t come from a sum of length, width, height, which are enclosing the space – but properly from the empty space, the void, that space we find inside. When the volumetric dimension of such an internal space get close to the volumetric dimension of a human body, a dress is born.
I read about Tomas Maier remembering the vision of an outfit from the Yves Saint Laurent catwalk. A light dress, a quite simple drape – Maier was explaining to the New Yorker interviewer: as the model was walking through, it was impossible to understand how she had gotten into that dress. It was impossible to see where the seams were. What was so impressive for Maier was the wearability of such a clothe: the way it was moving, it was laying on the female body at every step – the volume of the robe was really playing with the human body, lifting up and leaning down on a different point of contact.
A moveable, fluid architecture – elegance cannot exist without fluidity. Fashion stands for Bottega Veneta as architecture stands for fashion.
Tomas Maier is the son of an architect. Maier grew up following his father’s passion for Bauhaus. Indeed, those people were falling from the skyscrapers created by Mies van der Rohe in 2010, after a gun had shot them in 1979 for Men in the cities (weird coincidence, this rhyme between Mies van der Rohe and Men in the cities).
The internal space by Tomas Maier is equivalent to the pneumatic void by Palladio. Visiting the Rotonda we can see how the cross in the circle, the intersections of the squares, the columns and the stairs are multiplied from a central focal hall – in the same way, greeting Osanna Visconti at L’Officiel dinner in September, I could see the design on the shoulders, the vitreous pink textile, the miniature flower and the structured embroidery spreading out from a very unexpected elasticity.
From Palladio to the Cabat bag the process is quite the same: it wouldn’t be fair if you could understand how they are (made). There is nothing more complicated than simplicity. A lonely artisan must work out a Cabat bag, because two different hands would tie the woven with a different strength. This statement has been disclosed by all: the absence of a logo stands for the complete confidence that a bag can be recognized by its craftsmanship. This is the reason behind refusing the launch of an It Bag (celebrities street shooting, TV series scripts, predisposed waiting lists, etc.). The best way to create an It Bag is not doing it – more or less the same conversation we had above: it’s not about walls, length or width, but it’s about that internal space, the void that everything is developed around.
Functionality. The relationship between aesthetic and functions – Tomas Maier pointed out a clear example. One morning, he was holding his newspaper with his right hand – with the left hand he picked up a coffee cup – then, he leaned over the coffee cup – but the spoon had slipped to the hollow center of the little plate for the cup – the cup didn’t find its right place and consequently rolled on the table discharging the coffee and ruining one of the best moments of the day. The guilt should be credited to whoever designed that little plate for the coffee cup, unable to hold the spoon at its right place.
Nobody would ever be uneasy living inside the Tomas Maier void, or the Palladio void. No dramas, no panics shall ever get into those rooms. There is no tolerance for any chaos – it’s not a matter of perfection, it’s just a matter of concentration: like that white cotton thread on the jacket of a person who is talking to you, and you cannot listen to anything while the thread is there, because that little imprecision must not be there. It’s not a matter of passion, but of patience.
The woven, the Cabat bag, the Meta armchair. Monica Vitti directed by Antonioni, the plated pipes in Miami. Balenciaga and Madame Grès. Alex Prager. Chinese viscose to be cut with the laser light. That gothic taste from a golden wood painted by Giovanni Bellini – butterflies, petals and liquid inks. The white of the rice, the pink, the dark cocoa, the grey of a pearl. The symmetry between name and surname, dropping off an h – Tomas Maier.
I have already spotted that sobriety has nothing to do with understatement – I am more and more persuaded. Sobriety is the art of doing exactly what you are able to do, of saying precisely what you want to say. At the end of this story, I see that sobriety finds a new strength by getting close to Bottega Veneta – this could be the reason why Bottega Veneta is such a super statement for any contemporary aesthetic creativity.
ILLUSTRATION BY CLAIRE DUPORT