This key questions in the field of interior

This research
corpus will instigate looking at an Italian designer, Carlo Scarpa. This
project will examine the influences Scarpa had on his life and the reasons for
his slow progression in design career. The key aim for this corpus is to identify
and analyse the principal sources that will underpin the research project. The
lack of information on Carlo Scarpa and evidential gap in literature regarding
Scarpa as a ‘craftsman’, indicates a need to establish a greater context. ‘Come
Walk with Me: Displacement of Tenor’, is the research project aiming at two key
questions in the field of interior design and architecture. The first key
questions is, ‘How Artists draw and how architects draw?’ while the second key
question is, ‘What is particular in the way Carlo Scarpa draws?’ 

The first key
question is formulated from two on-going debates in Tate blog and Dezeen
magazine. Tate debate throws a light on an event called The Arty – tecture
Pecha Kucha: Marrying art with architecture. The author Susan Holtham states, Henry
Squire, partner at architecture practice Squire and Partners, discussed if art
can craft better buildings by saying:

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“For forty thousand years man had worked with
the same materials and principally the same story, to celebrate God and highlight
his power. By the 19th Century man had become very consummate at it
and some of the finest buildings where art and architecture worked in perfect
harmony were created during this time. Then the machine was born and everything
changed…new building ingredients like steel and concrete meant architecture
could do things not yet dreamt of, everything was new, so therefore were the
stories…from the ashes of two devasting world wars and huge technological
advances came the modernist movement in the international style… Henry continue
saying, the quote he likes from architect Peter Zumpthor, “I try to find out
why things here look the way they do and how to make things beautiful”.  For henry, buildings should have history, even
new ones. He further added, they should tell stories, “art can help tell that” (Holtham,

In the same
event another fellow speaker, Mark Davy, the founder and director of futurecity
– a culture and place making consultancy working in an urban context, said on
collaborating with artists on architecture as:

” If you’re going to
have artists involved they’ve got to be in from the beginning, it’s got to be
something that’s truly collaborative rather than stick on art at the end…where
artists are allowed to become part of the design process, amazing things can
happen” (Holtham,

The other
on-going debate, the researcher found in Dezeen magazine: “Architecture is not art” says Patrik Schumacher. Patrik, the
director of Zaha Hadid Architects, has launch an attack through Facebook on
political precision in architecture and a perceived trend for highlighting art
over form-making. In a post, Schumacher accused the judges of the 2012 Venice
Architecture Biennale of being driven by a “misguided
political correctness” and said that architects need to “stop confusing architecture and art”.
He further added, “Architects are in
charge of the form of the built environment, not its content” (Winston,

Hence, this
two debates demonstrates that a discussion of the relationship between art and
architecture is needed. This will be useful in assessing whether Carlo Scarpa
can be seen and an artist or an architect. As he spent a
great deal of time assessing and learning the architectural aspects of a space
through different apprenticeship. In addition to possessing an exceptional
understanding of raw materials, Scarpa was an artistic director of Venini (1933
to 1947). It is believed that he was one of the most prominent producers of
Venetian glass before he began the pursuit of his career as an architect.
Moreover, Scarpa achieved the maturity of this approach after a lengthy
apprenticeship of 15 years, working slowly and cautiously as a glass worker
(Bugaric, 2017).

According to
Sara Blumberg, founder of the New York based gallery ‘Glass past’, mentions, “Their
first exhibition, which was devoted to Scarpa and which travelled to the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York”, really opened the medium to a much
broader audience. Many knew Scarpa, as a Venetian architect, but only few would
have discovered the influential role he played in the 20th century
as an Italian glass-maker (Artinfo & Schuster, 2017). Hence, the question
arose whether to call him an ‘Artist or an Architect’, which conceptualize
issues of existence and identity in the field of interior design globally. To
enable these readings, the study will trace the difference in approach between
an artist and an architect.

However, to understand the difference and importance
of drawing in present context, the researcher digs into the early time when
drawings became a part of architectural practice. This timeline is important to
analyze, as it will allow the researcher to understand where Carlo Scarpa fits.
In the book, ‘Why architects draw?’, the author Edward Robbins mentions, it is
possible to say that in 15th Century drawings start to replace
models in architectural practice to some point. Working drawings improved so
much that by 16th Century a building, such as, the Escorial was
produced and constructed almost entirely from these drawings (Robbins,
1994). Moreover, by 20th Century, at least in
the United States, the transition from builder to self-declared professional
architect unfolded “as the transition
from a ‘craftsmanship’ to ‘draftsmanship'” (Robbins,
1994). To conclude, since the beginning of 20th
century the concept of craftsmanship and draftsmanship came into existence.
Since then, the conflict between these two has become a topic of debate.

In the book ‘Carlo Scarpa’ by Sergio Los and Klaus
Frahm, state that, the
work of Otto Wagner, the leading figure of the Viennese school, drew Scarpa’s
attention to Josef Hoffmann and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose tactic paid
particular attention to tectonics, craftsmanship and material. Scarpa
repeatedly mentions that during his time at the Royal Academy, more than at the
departments of architecture, a craft atmosphere prevailed that was reminiscent
of a building-site. Scarpa said: “I drew
because I want to see”. This shows the extent of how Scarpa’s seeing and
knowing is connected. It possibly means that an architectural design proceeds
through this differentiation between building and drawing. Thus, makes craft
skills a topic to discuss while preventing sheer calculation (Frahm & Los,

Edward mentions about the ancient Greek architect’s
techniques. “Coulton argues that most of
Greek architects’ work involved the practical aspect of building during
construction, ‘nevertheless’; this emphasize on the practical aspects of Greek
architect’s work does not mean that he is not responsible for the design. Kostof
agrees with coulton, suggesting that ‘the central cause of the art of
architectural was the stone mason and he worked from the set of verbal
descriptions set down by the architect'” (Robbins,
1994). Sergio Los and Klaus Frahm, state that, Scarpa did not
believe in the realization of architectural images by stonemasons and
carpenters. Neither had he believed that the link should be limited to the mere
execution of a drawing. Los and Frahm believed that for Scarpa architectural
drawings also involved creative contemplation, a permanent source of
inspiration for the design of his unusual details. They argued that Scarpa did
not limit himself to using the available expertise, but nurtured communication
with the people who were to execute his drawings, developing both their skills
and their imagination. He thus, revived an artisan culture which had been endangered
with the disappearance and enhanced it by designs which made the culture
relevant, assimilating it with contemporary architecture. Moreover, he showed
that one could restructure existing buildings by employing almost-forgotten
techniques which provided a link between the new and old. Finally Frahm and Los
conclude that with his conviction that one can learn by doing, Scarpa also
developed the intellectual side of manual work which had typified mechanical
drawing since the early renaissance (Frahm & Los, 2002). In conclusion, one
may say that Scarpa developed his own approach in contrast to what ancient
architects used. Thus, it can be believed that he was truly an artist.  

Now, coming
back to the present context, in the book ‘Material
Matters’, Thomas states that “when we
draw, we teach; and when we study a drawing, we learn”. This means, if we
analyse our own drawings, we acquire even more knowledge about it and we
observe things and decisions we made, that affected the entire process in a
different way. He further adds, “I do
believe that the best way to learn to draw is by intentionally drawing to
learn” (Thomas, 2007).

In the book,
‘Understanding Architecture through
drawing’, Brian Edward states that before the advent of photography most
architects kept a sketchbook in which they recorded the details of buildings to
use   while designing a building. The architects
like Le Corbusier, Alvar Alto and Louis Kahn employ a sketchbook in similar
fashion (Edwards, 2008). However, it is important to outline the differences
between artistic sketches and architectural sketches. Edward suggests that for
designers, drawing is a tool while for artists, it is rather a drawing   technique. In addition, Edward suggests that
artists are concerned with mark making rather than descriptive drawings. These
drawings are invariably abstract and experimental even when based upon
observation. While for him, the drawings made by architects are more
mechanistic response based upon disciplined observation of what is before the
observer. Edward says, this is not to suggest that architect’s drawings are
without abstraction or inspiration, rather it serves to remind society that
designers solve both visual and functional problems through the medium of
drawing. Referring back to the book,
‘Why Architects draw?’ Edward Robbins states drawing, allows architects to
experiment with the expressive quality of a building. It also allows them to be
more artistic, to express the tone, the style, and the materials as well as the
measure of a building in a medium of representation to which both architects
and laypersons could respond (Robbins, 1994). Based
on the above mentioned theories, it is possible to conclude that the freehand
drawings made by architects and designers not only hold the present context bound
in a sketch for the viewer to see but also holds the strong potential for future
designs (Edwards, 2008).  

Le Corbusier in his book, “Architecture
or Revolution”; one of the three essays that compose Versune architecture,
describes and approves Scarpa’s design approach and he writes

 “The Architect, by his arrangement of forms,
realizes an order which is a pure creation of his spirit; by forms and shapes
he affects our senses to an acute degree and provokes plastic emotions; by the
relationships which he creates he wakes profound echoes in us, he gives us the
measure of an order which we feel to be in accordance with that of our world”.  (Salazar 33, 34)

In addition, Los and Klaus
Frahm, state that, Scarpa’s cultivated perception is so rich that nobody could
think it is based only on visual experience. According to them, the complexity
of his outlook, where one image refers to another, does not allow one to
attribute it to the psychology of visual perception. Also, they link Scarpa’s
ability to create design with their own visual logic, to be based on a profound
knowledge of traditional shapes. According to Frahm and Los, this supplies him
with the criteria of selection and evaluation, and it is a kind of linguistic
competence (Frahm & Los, 2002).

To analyze the particularity
about Scarpa’s drawings, the researcher analyzed the architects’ opinion on
Scarpa. One of the main resources on this topic is the opinion of an Architect
from Edinburgh, Richard Murphy. This architect is known as the authority of
Scarpa, mentions in one of his interviews
that, “Scarpa had a peculiar way of
drawing, and we were knocked at first as we couldn’t understand. Very strange
architectural drawings like never seen before, very intricate by the building
and there were no finished set of drawings for Castelvecchio; the building he
worked almost his entire life” (“Richard Murphy lecture about the work
of Carlo Scarpa.”, 2014). Moreover, in the book, ‘Drawing Acts’, Roger de
piles praises drawings that are ‘quickly executed and unfinished’ as having
‘more spirit’ and ‘good character’. Such drawings invite the viewer to an
appropriate response, for their unfinished state. He concludes saying, this
unfinished state invites the imagination to “supply
the missing parts”, like a puzzle to fill in the spaces between lines. He
further adds, every viewer becomes a participant in the completion of the idea
according to his own particular taste (Rosand, 2016).  

The journey, within the
Japanese culture influenced Carlo Scarpa strongly. Carlo Scarpa, has always had
a symbolic meaning: that of visiting another world, not knowing what to expect,
or whether one would survive. These ideas greatly influenced the development of
Scarpa’s design, where fragments imply potential, not finality. His work was
described by Pamela Buxton, a freelance architecture and design journalist. In
one of her publications ‘Paul Williams’ inspiration:
Castelvecchio museum, Verona by Carlo Scarpa, mentions, Scarpa obviously spent a great deal of time assessing the
architectural advances of a space and understanding what a gallery could and
could not do. He knew intuitively how many pieces could best work in each
space, and was always sensitive to the dynamics between each exhibit. Also,
Buxton argues that Scarpa was constantly thinking about how visitors would move
through the spaces, from inside to outside reinforcing the route and provoking
interaction by the way the objects were displayed (Buxton, 2013). This shows
that Scarpa was not only keen about his drawings but also about the journey,
one experiences through his spaces.  

In the book ‘Understanding
Architecture through Drawing’, Richard Murphy, an authority on Carlo Scarpa
mentions; it is “absurd to think you can
design without drawing” and Foster states that “design is about ordering and this is expressed and explored through
drawing”. On the other hand, Farrell  
thinks, sketching as a “way of
seeing rather than the way of designing” (Edwards, 2008). However, it is
important to mention that the same object will be drawn differently by different
draftsmen. Because people have different perceptions of reality and ideas. And
it is impossible to know how other people’s imagination work. Different modes
of drawing represent different set of values and modes of knowing and
understanding (Rosand, 2016). A similar idea is expressed by Richard Murphy in
one of his interviews about Scarpa. Murphy said,

“His work travelled very slowly because illustrations are one thing but
to be there, it’s a ‘Sensory Experience’ – it’s about the sound of water, it’s
about the touch of plaster work, it’s about the luxuriousness of his use of
materials which you can’t really pick up from pictures in a magazine; you have
to be there.” (Richard Murphy lecture about the work of Carlo Scarpa.,

Therefore, from this study of
literature, the researcher came to an understanding of the difference in
artistic and architectural approach. It also demonstrated an evidential gap of seeing
Scarpa, as being a ‘craftsman’. His originality in approach towards design
demanded further work to be done. 


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