Why Architecture Is All About Context Featured

Interview with the Architect Benedetta Tagliabue 



07 April 2014


Originally from Milan but now living and working in Spain, Benedetta Tagliabue is an internationally acclaimed architect who founded the Barcelona agency EMBT Miralles Tagliabue with her late husband, famous architect Enric Miralles. Tagliabue’s notable projects include the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh, and Diagonal Mar Park and the Santa Caterina Market both in Barcelona. She studied architecture at the Istituto di Architettura di Venezia and is back in her hometown for Salone del Mobile 2014 with the launch of her BOTAN sofa for PassoniNature.

What do you think an architect and designer must have above everything else to launch successful projects? 

For me as an architect, it’s always about context. A lot of our work comes from what the client wants just as much as what we may think will work. For Salone and the presentation in collaboration with PassoniNature, it was very important to consider the materials just as much as the function and design.

What is your favorite part about Salone and what are you most looking forward to? 

Salone is fantastic as there are so many different things to take away from it! It’s a way of seeing not just new objects but new tendencies, and new trends. For me, its also interesting to see what people chose to show, and not just what they are exhibiting but also how. Many stands try to make you forget you are in a large fairground and this is very exciting.

Can you tell us more about the BOTAN sofa (and the collaboration with Passoni Nature) that you will present at Salone this year? How important were materials in this project?

Materials were extremely important for this project as PassoniNature are very focused on where the materials come from and how things are made. The BOTAN sofa is very much a “poof”—it’s a small sofa, and a chair or a small table. Its like a series of stones you take from the river and line up, it can be many things and you are encouraged to use it how you want.

How do you see the relationship between architecture and design?

There is a great marriage between architecture and design and today its very interesting to explore the worlds of the other; ie, for an architect to explore a designer’s world and vice versa. It is extremely useful to incorporate these different points of view into a project and as an architect I feel useful; my capacities are perhaps needed by others and I in turn am interested in the abilities of a designer. 

How have you seen architecture change?

It is extraordinary how much the way architects’ work is changing. It used to be all about hand drawings and small tables with small tolls. And now things are more flexible! There are programmes you can employ to draw up plans multiple different ways and in different cities using different printing techniques. It has made things that were once very complex much easier. We can incorporate our different ideas that we all have, and those we make on paper with those from the programmes. 

What is one of your favorite buildings in Milan?

During Salone when it’s so busy I think the only place I will have time to go and escape is my parent’s house in the center! But I have a memory of seeing the Bocconi building (designed by Grafton architects) for the first time and feeling very impressed that Milano was making such interesting and significant buildings like this. 

During Salone del Mobile 2014 Benedetta Tagliabue will present with PassoniNature the BOTAN sofa: Pad.12 Stand C18.
Special Opening, 11 April, 6pm, Via Solferino 19, Ordine degli Architteti