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Blog // Images
October 2, 2009

Looking For Mies

Looking for Mies is a production by Zuni Icosahedron staged as part of the Architecture Is Art Festival, here in Hong Kong. I had the opportunity to attend this afternoon’s matinee performance and I’ve very glad I did. Mies Van De Rohe is a towering figure in contemporary architecture and whilst most of us are […]

Looking for Mies is a production by Zuni Icosahedron staged as part of the Architecture Is Art Festival, here in Hong Kong. I had the opportunity to attend this afternoon’s matinee performance and I’ve very glad I did.

Mies Van De Rohe is a towering figure in contemporary architecture and whilst most of us are familiar with his aphorisms, like “less is more” and “God is in the details,” his ideas and design ethos are sometimes difficult to grasp.

The performance began with Dick Wong indicating that there was a prepared speech, but rather than start that performance with the speech, we were advised that it was written out for us in the programme and that we would have ten minutes to read, in silence, before the performance proper began. Then the house lights came back on and we sat, read and prepared ourselves for the performance as a giant stopwatch counted down the ten minutes,

The performance itself was a vivid mix of light, sound, moving stage objects, projected images, and architectural components raised, lowered and rated around the stage. We were encouraged to consider how form, proportion and space combine to develop structures and how the understanding of the ideas behind these forms help us appreciate the beauty of architecture. Central to all this was an interview with van der Rohe that we heard several times, in sections and then in full at the end of the performance. One line that was repeated at several points and really left an impression on me was,

“I don’t want to be interesting, I want to be good.”

As an aside, after the last two weeks of expatriate malaise, I really needed this event – first of all to help me feel normal by sitting in a venue full of, well, what to me look like my kind of people. Secondly, to remind me that in this city there is creativity, ingenuity and intelligence.

The overall effect of Looking For Mies was captivating. At ninety minutes without intermission it was slightly too long (for me) – I would have either liked a little more content, or a little tighter use of time. However, the measured approach did give us plenty of time to consider the ideas of van der Rohe and put them in a context of our own thinking about creativity and design.

“I don’t want to be interesting, I want to be good.” – There’s a motto to work by.

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