Type: Descriptive Essays
Sample donated: Abel Perkins
Last updated: August 11, 2019
This researchcorpus will instigate looking at an Italian designer, Carlo Scarpa. Thisproject will examine the influences Scarpa had on his life and the reasons forhis slow progression in design career. The key aim for this corpus is to identifyand analyse the principal sources that will underpin the research project. Thelack of information on Carlo Scarpa and evidential gap in literature regardingScarpa as a ‘craftsman’, indicates a need to establish a greater context. ‘ComeWalk with Me: Displacement of Tenor’, is the research project aiming at two keyquestions in the field of interior design and architecture. The first keyquestions is, ‘How Artists draw and how architects draw?’ while the second keyquestion is, ‘What is particular in the way Carlo Scarpa draws?’ The first keyquestion is formulated from two on-going debates in Tate blog and Dezeenmagazine.
Tate debate throws a light on an event called The Arty – tecturePecha Kucha: Marrying art with architecture. The author Susan Holtham states, HenrySquire, partner at architecture practice Squire and Partners, discussed if artcan craft better buildings by saying:”For forty thousand years man had worked withthe same materials and principally the same story, to celebrate God and highlighthis power. By the 19th Century man had become very consummate at itand some of the finest buildings where art and architecture worked in perfectharmony were created during this time.
Then the machine was born and everythingchanged…new building ingredients like steel and concrete meant architecturecould do things not yet dreamt of, everything was new, so therefore were thestories…from the ashes of two devasting world wars and huge technologicaladvances came the modernist movement in the international style… Henry continuesaying, the quote he likes from architect Peter Zumpthor, “I try to find outwhy things here look the way they do and how to make things beautiful”. For henry, buildings should have history, evennew ones. He further added, they should tell stories, “art can help tell that” (Holtham,2013). In the sameevent another fellow speaker, Mark Davy, the founder and director of futurecity– a culture and place making consultancy working in an urban context, said oncollaborating with artists on architecture as: ” If you’re going tohave artists involved they’ve got to be in from the beginning, it’s got to besomething that’s truly collaborative rather than stick on art at the end…whereartists are allowed to become part of the design process, amazing things canhappen” (Holtham,2013). The otheron-going debate, the researcher found in Dezeen magazine: “Architecture is not art” says Patrik Schumacher. Patrik, thedirector of Zaha Hadid Architects, has launch an attack through Facebook onpolitical precision in architecture and a perceived trend for highlighting artover form-making.
In a post, Schumacher accused the judges of the 2012 VeniceArchitecture Biennale of being driven by a “misguidedpolitical correctness” and said that architects need to “stop confusing architecture and art”.He further added, “Architects are incharge of the form of the built environment, not its content” (Winston,2014). Hence, thistwo debates demonstrates that a discussion of the relationship between art andarchitecture is needed. This will be useful in assessing whether Carlo Scarpacan be seen and an artist or an architect. As he spent agreat deal of time assessing and learning the architectural aspects of a spacethrough different apprenticeship.
In addition to possessing an exceptionalunderstanding of raw materials, Scarpa was an artistic director of Venini (1933to 1947). It is believed that he was one of the most prominent producers ofVenetian glass before he began the pursuit of his career as an architect.Moreover, Scarpa achieved the maturity of this approach after a lengthyapprenticeship of 15 years, working slowly and cautiously as a glass worker(Bugaric, 2017). According toSara Blumberg, founder of the New York based gallery ‘Glass past’, mentions, “Theirfirst exhibition, which was devoted to Scarpa and which travelled to theMetropolitan Museum of Art in New York”, really opened the medium to a muchbroader audience.
Many knew Scarpa, as a Venetian architect, but only few wouldhave discovered the influential role he played in the 20th centuryas an Italian glass-maker (Artinfo & Schuster, 2017). Hence, the questionarose whether to call him an ‘Artist or an Architect’, which conceptualizeissues of existence and identity in the field of interior design globally. Toenable these readings, the study will trace the difference in approach betweenan artist and an architect. However, to understand the difference and importanceof drawing in present context, the researcher digs into the early time whendrawings became a part of architectural practice. This timeline is important toanalyze, as it will allow the researcher to understand where Carlo Scarpa fits.In the book, ‘Why architects draw?’, the author Edward Robbins mentions, it ispossible to say that in 15th Century drawings start to replacemodels in architectural practice to some point. Working drawings improved somuch that by 16th Century a building, such as, the Escorial wasproduced and constructed almost entirely from these drawings (Robbins,1994).
Moreover, by 20th Century, at least inthe United States, the transition from builder to self-declared professionalarchitect unfolded “as the transitionfrom a ‘craftsmanship’ to ‘draftsmanship'” (Robbins,1994). To conclude, since the beginning of 20thcentury 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 KlausFrahm, state that, thework of Otto Wagner, the leading figure of the Viennese school, drew Scarpa’sattention to Josef Hoffmann and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose tactic paidparticular attention to tectonics, craftsmanship and material. Scarparepeatedly mentions that during his time at the Royal Academy, more than at thedepartments of architecture, a craft atmosphere prevailed that was reminiscentof a building-site.
Scarpa said: “I drewbecause I want to see”. This shows the extent of how Scarpa’s seeing andknowing is connected. It possibly means that an architectural design proceedsthrough this differentiation between building and drawing. Thus, makes craftskills a topic to discuss while preventing sheer calculation (Frahm & Los,2002).Edward mentions about the ancient Greek architect’stechniques.
“Coulton argues that most ofGreek architects’ work involved the practical aspect of building duringconstruction, ‘nevertheless’; this emphasize on the practical aspects of Greekarchitect’s work does not mean that he is not responsible for the design. Kostofagrees with coulton, suggesting that ‘the central cause of the art ofarchitectural was the stone mason and he worked from the set of verbaldescriptions set down by the architect'” (Robbins,1994). Sergio Los and Klaus Frahm, state that, Scarpa did notbelieve in the realization of architectural images by stonemasons andcarpenters.
Neither had he believed that the link should be limited to the mereexecution of a drawing. Los and Frahm believed that for Scarpa architecturaldrawings also involved creative contemplation, a permanent source ofinspiration for the design of his unusual details. They argued that Scarpa didnot limit himself to using the available expertise, but nurtured communicationwith the people who were to execute his drawings, developing both their skillsand their imagination. He thus, revived an artisan culture which had been endangeredwith the disappearance and enhanced it by designs which made the culturerelevant, assimilating it with contemporary architecture.
Moreover, he showedthat one could restructure existing buildings by employing almost-forgottentechniques which provided a link between the new and old. Finally Frahm and Losconclude that with his conviction that one can learn by doing, Scarpa alsodeveloped the intellectual side of manual work which had typified mechanicaldrawing since the early renaissance (Frahm & Los, 2002). In conclusion, onemay say that Scarpa developed his own approach in contrast to what ancientarchitects used. Thus, it can be believed that he was truly an artist. Now, comingback to the present context, in the book ‘MaterialMatters’, Thomas states that “when wedraw, we teach; and when we study a drawing, we learn”. This means, if weanalyse our own drawings, we acquire even more knowledge about it and weobserve things and decisions we made, that affected the entire process in adifferent way.
He further adds, “I dobelieve that the best way to learn to draw is by intentionally drawing tolearn” (Thomas, 2007).In the book,’Understanding Architecture throughdrawing’, Brian Edward states that before the advent of photography mostarchitects kept a sketchbook in which they recorded the details of buildings touse while designing a building. The architectslike Le Corbusier, Alvar Alto and Louis Kahn employ a sketchbook in similarfashion (Edwards, 2008). However, it is important to outline the differencesbetween artistic sketches and architectural sketches. Edward suggests that fordesigners, drawing is a tool while for artists, it is rather a drawing technique.
In addition, Edward suggests thatartists are concerned with mark making rather than descriptive drawings. Thesedrawings are invariably abstract and experimental even when based uponobservation. While for him, the drawings made by architects are moremechanistic response based upon disciplined observation of what is before theobserver. Edward says, this is not to suggest that architect’s drawings arewithout abstraction or inspiration, rather it serves to remind society thatdesigners solve both visual and functional problems through the medium ofdrawing. Referring back to the book,’Why Architects draw?’ Edward Robbins states drawing, allows architects toexperiment with the expressive quality of a building. It also allows them to bemore artistic, to express the tone, the style, and the materials as well as themeasure of a building in a medium of representation to which both architectsand laypersons could respond (Robbins, 1994).
Basedon the above mentioned theories, it is possible to conclude that the freehanddrawings made by architects and designers not only hold the present context boundin a sketch for the viewer to see but also holds the strong potential for futuredesigns (Edwards, 2008). Le Corbusier in his book, “Architectureor 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 shapeshe affects our senses to an acute degree and provokes plastic emotions; by therelationships which he creates he wakes profound echoes in us, he gives us themeasure of an order which we feel to be in accordance with that of our world”. (Salazar 33, 34)In addition, Los and KlausFrahm, state that, Scarpa’s cultivated perception is so rich that nobody couldthink it is based only on visual experience. According to them, the complexityof his outlook, where one image refers to another, does not allow one toattribute it to the psychology of visual perception. Also, they link Scarpa’sability to create design with their own visual logic, to be based on a profoundknowledge of traditional shapes. According to Frahm and Los, this supplies himwith the criteria of selection and evaluation, and it is a kind of linguisticcompetence (Frahm & Los, 2002). To analyze the particularityabout Scarpa’s drawings, the researcher analyzed the architects’ opinion onScarpa.
One of the main resources on this topic is the opinion of an Architectfrom Edinburgh, Richard Murphy. This architect is known as the authority ofScarpa, mentions in one of his interviewsthat, “Scarpa had a peculiar way ofdrawing, and we were knocked at first as we couldn’t understand. Very strangearchitectural drawings like never seen before, very intricate by the buildingand there were no finished set of drawings for Castelvecchio; the building heworked almost his entire life” (“Richard Murphy lecture about the workof Carlo Scarpa.
“, 2014). Moreover, in the book, ‘Drawing Acts’, Roger depiles praises drawings that are ‘quickly executed and unfinished’ as having’more spirit’ and ‘good character’. Such drawings invite the viewer to anappropriate response, for their unfinished state. He concludes saying, thisunfinished state invites the imagination to “supplythe missing parts”, like a puzzle to fill in the spaces between lines. Hefurther adds, every viewer becomes a participant in the completion of the ideaaccording to his own particular taste (Rosand, 2016). The journey, within theJapanese culture influenced Carlo Scarpa strongly. Carlo Scarpa, has always hada symbolic meaning: that of visiting another world, not knowing what to expect,or whether one would survive.
These ideas greatly influenced the development ofScarpa’s design, where fragments imply potential, not finality. His work wasdescribed by Pamela Buxton, a freelance architecture and design journalist. Inone of her publications ‘Paul Williams’ inspiration:Castelvecchio museum, Verona by Carlo Scarpa, mentions, Scarpa obviously spent a great deal of time assessing thearchitectural advances of a space and understanding what a gallery could andcould not do. He knew intuitively how many pieces could best work in eachspace, and was always sensitive to the dynamics between each exhibit. Also,Buxton argues that Scarpa was constantly thinking about how visitors would movethrough the spaces, from inside to outside reinforcing the route and provokinginteraction by the way the objects were displayed (Buxton, 2013). This showsthat Scarpa was not only keen about his drawings but also about the journey,one experiences through his spaces. In the book ‘UnderstandingArchitecture through Drawing’, Richard Murphy, an authority on Carlo Scarpamentions; it is “absurd to think you candesign without drawing” and Foster states that “design is about ordering and this is expressed and explored throughdrawing”.
On the other hand, Farrell thinks, sketching as a “way ofseeing rather than the way of designing” (Edwards, 2008). However, it isimportant to mention that the same object will be drawn differently by differentdraftsmen. Because people have different perceptions of reality and ideas. Andit is impossible to know how other people’s imagination work. Different modesof drawing represent different set of values and modes of knowing andunderstanding (Rosand, 2016). A similar idea is expressed by Richard Murphy inone of his interviews about Scarpa.
Murphy said, “His work travelled very slowly because illustrations are one thing butto be there, it’s a ‘Sensory Experience’ – it’s about the sound of water, it’sabout the touch of plaster work, it’s about the luxuriousness of his use ofmaterials which you can’t really pick up from pictures in a magazine; you haveto be there.” (Richard Murphy lecture about the work of Carlo Scarpa.,2014)Therefore, from this study ofliterature, the researcher came to an understanding of the difference inartistic and architectural approach. It also demonstrated an evidential gap of seeingScarpa, as being a ‘craftsman’. His originality in approach towards designdemanded further work to be done.