11/10/2018

ÁLVARO SIZA’S DECEPTIVE SIMPLICITY

#ÁlvaroSiza

When the Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza received the Pritzker Prize in 1992, the jury described his work as featuring a “deceptive simplicity”. If this statement applied to his architecture, characterised by a Spartan whiteness typical of the masters of the Modern Movement as well as of a Mediterranean tradition that Siza willingly joins to, it also applies to the furniture that he has been creating for the interior of his buildings since his beginning with the Boa Nova Tea House.

In spite of its highly personal character, Siza’s work is generously opened to the influence of the place where it locates and of the people that take part in its building. Thus, his lamps, produced by Italian firms, are openly Italian, while his furniture presents the trace of the Portuguese craftsmen that made it as well as the trace of the schematic yet expressive drawing of the architect.

“A piece of furniture must stand well in a particular house but it must also have a strength and a quality which will allow it to go anywhere. It also needs a type of modesty which will allow it to be used and to last, a banality” Álvaro Siza, Tradition, Modernism and the Banal, interview by Edwin Heathcote, 2002

In the church in Marco de Canaveses, the furniture provides a human scale in a Franciscan stripped-down interior. Siza designed its extremely slender doors, the sculptural baptismal font and the chairs with kneelers for the parishioners, apparently banal but subtly complex. Following Loos’s lesson, as in his well-known chests of drawers, Siza makes furniture that fits in its place without drawing attention, elemental but alien to the self-conscious character of a minimalist piece, true to its function and essence.

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