Chanel x Zaha Hadid

Are there really words needed when it comes to the work of late architectural genius and a dame of architecture Zaha Hadid? As with all of her best work, focus was never just on the decorative side but also on the pattern of flowing movement through the space, collecting the energy surrounding it and channeling it into the building. Speaking of Channeling, Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion opened back in 2008 in Central Park provides the wild, almost delirious ride through the art of architecture and the everlasting art of fashion. It was primarily designed to display artworks that were inspired by Chanel’s 2.55, a quilted chain-strap handbag, but it serves as the runway scene as well. Need I mentioned that it certainly oozes glamour?

Its nautilus-like, mysterious form looks massive. However, it can easily be dismantled and shipped to the next city on its global tour. Hence, the mobile segment of it. Its creator, the Iraqi-born Zaha Hadid incorporated in it a touch of architectural intelligence. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if it was a bit too much? Surveying it’s self-important exhibits, one can’t help but hope that the era of exploiting the so-called intersection of architecture, art and fashion is finally over in the shape and form we know it today.

The pavilion, made of hundreds of molded fiberglass panels mounted on a skeletal steel frame, was first shown in Hong Kong in February 2008. From there it was packed up in 55 sea containers and shipped to Tokyo, closing there in July and heading to New York, where it was on view through November. Chanel was paying a $400,000 fee to rent space in the park and has made a gift of an undisclosed amount to the Central Park Conservancy as part of the deal. The company’s money couldn’t have bought a prettier site. The pavilion stood on Rumsey Playfield, near Fifth Avenue and 69th Street, on a low brick plinth at the edge of the park’s concert grounds. Groves of elm and linden trees frame the pavilion to the north and south; a long trellis draped in wisteria flanks it to the west, with the Naumburg Bandshell rising immediately behind it. Today, it tours the world carrying creations of 15 artists who were invited to contribute pieces inspired by the now iconic handbag.

In 2011,  the pavilion has found a permanent home in front of Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. The fashion house donated the portable gallery space with its ‘fluid’ reinforced-plastic shell to the institute after the Hong Kong tour. Chanel blamed the ‘economic crisis’ for the decision to end the exhibition circuit early.


Chanel Mobile Art Museum is routing Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, London, Moscow and Paris. Its insides include portable structure with electrical system and museum contents. In terms of weight and dimensions- 55 40′ containers, misc airfreight for repairs. Conveyance? Ocean, commercial air freight.

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