The architect, the photographer and MOMO

November 18, 2018

Out of the office into the gallery

Earlier this week, in need of some head space to think creatively and problem-solve some tricky issues, some of the MOMO team went first to the Royal Academy‘s exhibition on Renzo Piano (famous architect of the Shard among other outstanding structures) then to a show of Roman Vishniac’s work at the Photographers’ Gallery. 

It’s always a spur to creativity to have a change of place and simply removing ourselves from the office was a good decision. But the inspiration came from the artists we had chosen, two men from different times and places, each working in a totally different medium.

Renzo Piano

Piano’s work is surprisingly human despite the vast scale of most of his projects. He is both poetic and playful and aims to create vibrant spaces where people can be sociable. To this end many of his projects have involved local people using local materials, building community.  All the structures created by Piano are based around the movement of light and air: transparency is a running theme in his work.

Roman Vishniac

Light is of the utmost importance to a photographer and Vishniac’s use of it was masterful. Vishniac, himself Jewish, photographed the ordinary lives of European Jews in the run up to the second world war. Through his work he shone a light into desperately dark places and made us see the unseen.

The purpose of design

Both artists had created exquisite work and it was inspiring simply to witness it. But beyond the artefacts lay a moral purpose, very evident in Vishniac’s photographs, but also implicit in the plans and models of Piano’s buildings. We loved this quote:

…without poetry, without that sense of complex beauty that comes to the surface when the invisible becomes visible, architecture doesn’t work.

It was an uplifting day and a reminder that design is meaningless without a human purpose. It prompted us to reflect that in a modest way MOMO is similarly built within a community and our design sometimes results in lighting up areas that were hidden from view, creating transparency from what was opaque.

*This is the second in our trilogy of articles about MOMO design.

**Featured image reproduced with kind permission: ©Nic Lehoux (Website)