ASK AN ARCHITECT DANIEL LIBESKIND
Libeskind is one of the most famous architects in the world, with projects ranging from the award-winning Jewish Museum in Berlin to the Ground Zero site in New York. He has also recently designed furniture with Moroso
What inspired you to become an architect?
I used to be a professional musician: I played the accordion alongside the legendary Israeli-american violinist Itzhak Perlman. Then I attended the Bronx High School of Science, where my interests quickly turned to mathematics, but I always drew and painted; by chance I realised that architecture combined all of my interests. It wasn’t the first thing I considered doing, the idea evolved over time. What does the word ‘ home’ mean to you? It’s a sanctuary; a place to be with your family, with friends, to read, to draw. You need to have somewhere that’s really for you – I try not to even look at my phone when I’m at home.
What is your favourite room in your house?
The whole house! I live in a renovated warehouse in Tribeca, New York. When I bought it, I took many of the interior walls out – I really wanted one big open-plan space. It was my daughter Rachael who asked to keep some walls intact, she being a teenager at the time and wanting privacy. What has been your favourite project? One of the most memorable ones was a private home in Connecticut ( 4, see it in full in next month’s issue). It was the very first time I had completed a house from scratch – most of my projects are museums and master plans like Manchester’s Imperial War Museum ( 1) and the Ground Zero site in Manhattan ( 5). I designed everything from the sofa and carpet to the shower and bed – it was so much fun. The exterior is angular and clad in dark stainless steel; in contrast, the interior is covered in rich oak, like a cosy log cabin. What’s your working process? I always start with a drawing. I love how artistic Renaissance architects created beautiful buildings that we all celebrate today – they all came from a pencil and paper. That said, I now use an ipad to draw. I was sceptical using it at the beginning but it’s so precise, and I can instantly send my drawings to clients.
Is there a building in the world that you wish you had designed?
I recently visited the San Giovanni Battista church near Florence ( 6), designed in the early 1960s by Italian architect Giovanni Michelucci. It sits on a busy highway outside the city. It’s a masterpiece – it’s astonishing, modern yet complex. I love the idea of spirituality on a highway – if you’re passing you can pop in and speak to God, like a drive-through for religion.
What is the biggest challenge for architects today?
To make sure the great cities of the world are not just places for the rich; that there is equality in the city centre for everyone. I’m currently working on a project to provide affordable housing in the historic, wealthy part of Berlin ( I want to show
that good architecture doesn’t have to cost a huge amount. Cities become great because of the mix of people and the diverse types of creativity.
Why did you start designing furniture?
I have designed lighting and other small pieces in the past, but it wasn’t until I met Patrizia Moroso that I thought about designing a full collection of sofas and chairs ( 3 ‘Gemma’ sofa). Patrizia approaches design with great passion. Plus, creating furniture has a personal touch: it’s immediate, it doesn’t take ten years to complete (libeskind.com).
‘A home is a sanctuary, a place to be with your family and friends. You need to have somewhere that’s for you’