Launched in Seoul, South Korea, at the end of April 2009, the Prada Transformer designed by OMA/Rem Koolhaas showcased a groundbreaking series of cross-cultural exhibitions, screenings and live events. For six months this shape-shifting venue hosted multiple interdisciplinary projects, bringing a unique mix of visual arts to Korea.
Situated next to the 16th-century Gyeonghui Palace, the Prada Transformer dramatically juxtaposed Korean history, tradition and folklore with this 21st-century multi-dimensional event space.
The Transformer combined the four sides of a tetrahedron: hexagon, cross, rectangle and circle into one pavilion. The building, entirely covered with a smooth elastic membrane, was flipped using cranes, completely reconfiguring the visitor’s experience with each new programme. Each side plan was precisely designed to organize a different event installation creating a building with four identities. Whenever one shape becomes the ground plan, the other three shapes become the walls and the ceiling defining the space, as well as referencing historic or anticipating future event configurations.
“Waist Down - Skirts by Miuccia Prada”, an ongoing project by Miuccia Prada in collaboration with AMO, made its Korean debut on April 25th 2009, showcasing a collection of skirts “in motion” ranging from the first ever Prada show to the recent collections. Skirts by emerging Korean fashion students were also included to show the interaction between two fashion worlds and to amplify the meaning of fashion from different cultural perspectives.
The exhibition space was then transformed into a cinema showing a programme of films selected by Alejandro González Iñárritu, the director of Oscar-multinominated Babel. “Flesh, Mind and Spirit” is the concept for the unique programme – launched on June 27th 2009 - co-curated by film critic Elvis Mitchell, spanning multiple genres, countries and decades of filmmaking including a rich and substantial amount of physical, intellectual and spiritual films for a whole cinematic experience.
Additionally on August 15th 2009 an art installation by Swedish artist Nathalie Djurberg entitled “Turn into Me”, (2008-2009), curated by Germano Celant, was presented. The installation consisted of several three dimensional constructions inside of which provocative and ironic short animated video works was projected onto video screens. Djurberg’s videos were made using stop-motion techniques where small clay or plasticine figures created and interacted in surreal atmospheres. The sensation was reinforced throughout all of the works by the accompanying music soundtracks which are composed by the Swedish composer, Hans Berg.
On September 29th 2009, the Prada Transformer was rotated and reconfigured to host the final stage of its transformation cycle: a day of events entitled “The Student Takeover”, which took place on September 30. The program was based around Korean students exhibiting new design ideas and artwork in the Prada Transformer based around the theme of ‘transformation’.
After a high profile series of enthusiastically-received events, which included a fashion exhibition, a cinema festival and a fine art installation, the Prada Transformer chose to engage with its host city by making itself a place for debate and open-minded discussion; inviting innovative students to communicate ideas freely and contemplate the future of art, design and the society in which it exists.
For two weeks, the Prada Transformer was turned into a workshop environment for 130 Korean students from ten prestigious Korean universities and from thirteen disciplines, including architecture, fashion, film, fine art and graphics.
The students had the unique experience to develop their work for an unprecedented exhibition of innovative art and design, whose aim was to investigate and bring global attention to the best of Seoul’s creative young talent.