// arthitectural / Architecture / Zaha Hadid Architects | The Mobile Art Pavilion for CHANEL

Zaha Hadid Architects | The Mobile Art Pavilion for CHANEL

Architecture © John Linden

The Mobile Art Pavilion for CHANEL by Zaha Hadid Architects has been inspired by one of CHANEL’s signature creations, the quilted bag. CHANEL is renowned for its layering of the finest textiles and exquisite detailing to create the most elegant and cohesive pieces for each collection. In her quest for complex, dynamic and fluid spaces, the work of Zaha Hadid has developed over the past thirty years through a rigorous integration of natural and human-made systems and experimentation with cutting-edge technologies. Hadid’s architecture transforms our vision of the future with new spatial concepts and bold, visionary forms.“I think through our architecture, we can give people a glimpse of another world, and enthuse them, make them excited about ideas. Our architecture is intuitive, radical, international and dynamic. We are concerned with constructing buildings that evoke original experiences, a kind of strangeness and newness that is comparable to the experience of going to a new country. The Mobile Art Pavilion for CHANEL follows these principles of inspiration,” states Zaha Hadid.

© Toshio Kaneko

Continuing to arouse one’s curiosity is a constant theme in the work of Zaha Hadid. The Mobile Art Pavilion for CHANEL is the very latest evolution of Hadid’s architectural language that generates a sculptural sensuality with a coherent formal logic. This new architecture flourishes via the new digital modelling tools that augment the design process with techniques of continuous fluidity.

Zaha Hadid explains this process, “The complexity and technological advances in digital imaging software and construction techniques have made the architecture of the Mobile Art Pavilion possible. It is an architectural language of fluidity and nature, driven by new digital design and manufacturing processes which have enabled us to create the Pavilion’s totally organic forms – instead of the serial order of repetition that marks the architecture of the industrial 20th century.”

© Toshio Kaneko

Hadid’s innovative architecture is the reason Karl Lagerfeld invited her to create the Mobile Art Pavilion. “She is the first architect to find a way to part with the all-dominating post-Bauhaus aesthetic. The value of her designs is similar to that of great poetry. The potential of her imagination is enormous,” Karl Lagerfeld explained during the launch of the Mobile Art Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Art Biennale.

© John Linden

Zaha Hadid Architects recent explorations of natural organizational systems have generated the fluidity evident in the Pavilion for CHANEL. The Mobile Art Pavilion’s organic form has evolved from the spiralling shapes found in nature. This system of organisation and growth is among the most frequent in nature and offers an appropriate expansion towards its circumference,giving the Pavilion generous public areas at its entrance with a 128m2 terrace.

The Pavilion follows the parametric distortion of a torus. In its purest geometric shape, the circular torus is the most fundamental diagram of an exhibition space. The distortion evident in the Pavilion creates a constant variety of exhibition spaces around its circumference, whilst at its centre, a large 65m2 courtyard with natural lighting provides an area for visitors to meet and reflect on the exhibition. This arrangement also allows visitors to see each other moving through the space and interacting with the exhibition. In this way, the architecture facilitates the viewing of art as a collective experience. The central courtyard will also host evening events during the exhibition in each host city.

The organic shell of the Mobile Art Pavilion is created with a succession of reducing arched segments. As the Pavilion will travel over three continents, this segmentation also gives an appropriate system of partitioning – allowing the Pavilion to be easily transported in separate, manageable elements. Each structural element will be no wider than 2.25 m. The partitioning seams become a strong formal feature of the exterior façade cladding, whilst these seams also create a spatial rhythm of perspective views within the interior exhibition spaces.

© Virgile Simon Bertrand

The Mobile Art Pavilion for CHANEL, initially inspired by CHANEL’s signature quilted bag and conceived through a system of natural organisation, is also shaped by the functional considerations of the exhibition. However, these further determinations remain secondary and precariously dependent on the overriding formal language of the Pavilion. An enigmatic strangeness has evolved between the Pavilion’s organic system of logic and these functional adaptations – arousing the visitor’s curiosity even further.

In creating the Mobile Art Pavilion for CHANEL, Zaha Hadid has developed the fluid geometries of natural systems into a continuum of fluent and dynamic space – where oppositions between exterior and interior, light and dark, natural and artificial landscapes are synthesised. Lines of energy converge within the Pavilion, constantly redefining the quality of each exhibition space whilst guiding movement through the exhibition. The work of selected artists has been commissioned for the exhibition. Hadid created an entire landscape for their work, rather than just an exhibition space. Visitors will be guided through the space using the latest digital technology developed in collaboration with the artists.

© Toshio Kaneko

“The fascination of the Mobile Art Pavilion is the challenge of translating the intellectual and physical into the sensual – experimenting with completely unexpected and totally immersive environments for this global celebration of the iconic work of CHANEL. I see the Pavilion as a kind of a total artwork that continually reinvents itself as it moves from Asia, to the USA and Europe,” states Zaha Hadid.


It is CHANEL’s constant quest to offer a dream world of luxury, in a universe of fashion. To achieve this, Karl Lagerfeld innovates, surprises and even provokes us. Each of his collections and their presentations is a shock to the senses through which he interprets the CHANEL style in a new way. By choosing spectacular or unexpected locations such as the dome of the Grand Palais in Paris, the Opera House in Monte Carlo, Grand Central Station in New York or Santa Monica Airport, which highlight the modernity of a constantly moving brand, CHANEL reinvents itself each season, and constantly invigorates its own special vocabulary.

“I want to be part of what’s happening”, Mademoiselle Chanel used to say. Those words precisely define what characterises the timelessness of the brand. It is also what regularly inspires CHANEL to create momentous events that travel the world.

Now, CHANEL has decided to make one of its emblematic creations, the quilted bag, the focus of an event on an international scale: MOBILE ART. Just as fashion spreads throughout the world, this travelling event will be presented in Asia, the United States and Europe. In a futuristic pavilion created by the architect Zaha Hadid, some fifteen internationally renowned artists will exhibit work that was inspired by the elements that give the CHANEL bag its identity. Their unique visions, unexpected interpretations – poetic, cheeky and inspirational – cannot fail to reveal the multiple facets of this legendary bag.

Created by Mademoiselle Chanel in February 1955 and constantly reinterpreted by Karl Lagerfeld, the quilted bag has toured the world and delighted many generations of women. This iconic object has become part of the brand’s universe alongside some of our other emblematic creations, all exceptionally enduring, like the little black dress, the tweed suit, the camellia, the string of pearls, the chain belt, the two tone shoe and, of course, Chanel Nº 5, the perfume created in 1921 and still the world’s most popular scent.

By associating the CHANEL bag with contemporary creators, we hope to renew and establish its position both now and in the future. Mobile Art is the logical extension of CHANEL’s involvement in the Arts – beginning with Mademoiselle Chanel who enthusiastically supported the greatest artists of her day including Lipchitz, Cocteau, Stravinsky and Diaghilev, and whose creations in turn inspired major artists such as Andy Warhol.

Mobile Art is thus an ongoing event and through it we hope to reaffirm once more CHANEL’s devotion to creativity and the avant-garde.

Bruno Pavlovsky – Président des Activités Mode

© John Linden


Mobile Art is a travelling exhibition devised as a three-dimensional film and presented in a futuristic pavilion specially created by the architect Zaha Hadid.

The creative concept of Mobile Art is the result of an aesthetic experiment conducted over the last two years in which the values and visual language of CHANEL – and most particularly its emblematic accessory, the quilted bag – confronted those of some fifteen contemporary American, European and Asian artists. These artists are universally recognized, but most started working in the early 1990s.

Mobile Art is not so much an exhibition to be visited as a landscape to wander through in a completely new way: to experience the artists’ installations, visitors, equipped with a digital handset, must let themselves be guided mentally and physically by a soundtrack composed in collaboration with the artists taking part. All the works, installations and environments presented in Mobile Art were produced by CHANEL and specifically designed for the exhibition by the artists, in close collaboration with the management committee, Zaha Hadid and her team. Thus Mobile Art is an original and global work.

An architectural event accessible to all free of charge, in January 2008, Mobile Art will embark on a world tour lasting several years and will be seen in the heart of some of the biggest cities in Asia, the United States and Europe.

Lastly, the inner courtyard of Mobile Art has been specifically designed for hosting events, meetings, dinners and parties to encourage dialogue and enhance the appreciation of the artists’ work but also, more simply, to create moments of happiness.

Fabrice Bousteau – Curator

Fabrice Bousteau has been the editorial director and editor in chief of Beaux Arts Magazine since 1997. As the leading French art and culture monthly magazine focusing on contemporary creation in all spheres of the visual arts, Beaux Arts Magazine publishes many works on architecture, modern photography and fashion. Fabrice Bousteau is a modern art critic, well versed in cultural politics, as well as a producer at France Culture and the commentator for many radio and television programmes. He has also designed and produced exhibitions for numerous and original projects, such as : “Calder’s Monuments” (Paris La Défense 1996, deputy director, the world’s first exhibition to bring together many of Calder’s monumental works), “Art and Agriculture” (Salon Agriculture 1999, a modern art exhibition presenting works by 20 artists) and “Art in the World” (3rd edition 2002, an exhibition showing the work of 100 young artists from 45 different countries presented in collaboration with 25 international contemporary art magazines). Unusually, before he became director of Beaux Arts Magazine, Fabrice Bousteau was a cultural engineering consultant between 1991 and 1997 when he designed and presented cultural events in all sectors and produced cultural equipment definition and feasibility studies (ranging from modern art centres to the artistic programming of Evry Cathedral). Lastly, he has just undertaken the editorial direction of “Made by Indians”, a book on modern Indian creation.

Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects – Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher
Internal Scenography: Zaha Hadid Architects
Project Architect: Thomas Vietzke, Jens Borstelmann
Project Team: Helen Lee, Claudia Wulf, Erhan Patat, Tetsuya Yamasaki, Daniel FIser
Engineering: ARUP [London]
Cost Consultant: Davis Langdon [London]
Main Contractor/Tour Operator: ES Projects
FRP Manufacturing: Stage One Creative Services Ltd
Client: Chanel
Locations worldwide: Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, Paris
Program: Traveling Exhibition Pavilion designed for Chanel
Size: 29m x 45m
Surface: 700sqm
Date: 2007-2008


Facade: Cladding Fibre Re-inforced Plastic,
Roof: PVC, ETFE roof lights
Secondary Structure: Aluminium extrusions
Primary Structure Steel: 74t (69t Pavilion and 5t Ticket Office), 1752 different steel connections.

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