So, I’m standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower. In Paris. France. And I’m looking over towards the financial district, Le Defense, and I notice this building in the center of a park. Immediately, I think that it looks a lot like it was designed by architect Frank Gehry. This is a testimony to how distinguishable his work is. At that point, I wasn’t aware of any of his work in Paris, but a quick Google search enlightened me. It was the Fondation de Louis Vuitton, a contemporary art museum, indeed designed by Gehry, and it had just opened the previous year. I felt the timing was serendipitous.
Flashback to 2006. It would be generous to say that my knowledge of architecture was minimal. Probably limited in its way to Frank Lloyd Wright and Joseph Eichler, the latter only because I do design work in the real estate industry. But, a lady friend asked if I wanted to see a movie with her. It’s difficult to recall, but I must have believed there was a chance of having sex because I agreed to see. . . a documentary. . . about an architect. . . I had never heard of. This, at a time when I wouldn’t see a movie without the prerequisite number of explosions and casualties to keep my ADD-addled brain entertained. Little did I know how much this film, Sketches of Frank Gehry, would affect my life.
Seeing this movie opened my eyes to new inspiration, and I don’t think I’ve looked at any building quite the same since. Where once I would see just a block of concrete and glass, I now saw a beautiful juxtaposition of lines and shapes. And the more abstract the building, the better, which is why Gehry’s architecture resonates with me. His style isn’t for everyone, he has as many critics as fans, but he must be doing something right because his work continues to be in demand. He designed the Facebook campus right in our own backyard, although I don’t think of that being one of his more signature designs.
For that, you probably need to look towards the Disney Symphony Hall in LA or the Experience Music Project in Seattle, which would probably be two of the closest to Silicon Valley. Or you could do as I did and visit Bilbao, Spain for the Guggenheim Museum, perhaps one of his most notable creations. I hardly looked at the art when I was there, I was too enthralled by the building, an incredible work of art on its own. Or even Prague where Gehry designed the Dancing House, sometimes called Fred & Ginger for its resemblance to Astaire and Rogers floating across the dance floor.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Gehry, but are interested, I highly recommend this film. You can watch it for three bucks on YouTube , and you need not be interested at all in architecture to enjoy it. What is most enjoyable is the creative process displayed. I particularly enjoyed how much his process mirrors my own, essentially throwing elements together until they look really, really cool.
Okay, I’m simplifying that a tad. But, close.
The overwhelming takeaway for me, though, was in how this movie changed my perception. I see little these days that I don’t look at differently, from an old gnarled tree, to an urban landscape with buildings, signs, streetlights, and freeways. I encourage all of you to get out and just go for a walk. Only slow down and really look at the wonders that exist all around us. Inspiration is everywhere. For it is in the way we look that we find the beauty.
And no, I didn’t get laid. But, I’m real okay with that.
Steve Borelli has been drawing since he was a fetus. The inside of his mother’s womb is tattooed with the renderings of his twisted imagination. Upon birth he continued his assault on the senses by concocting his own comic strips and illustrations inspired by the lunacy transpiring about him. He balances the chaos he calls a life by visualizing on board, film and canvas the various hallucinations dancing like sugarplums through the depths of his eternally deranged id, and using his creativity as ammunition in the never-ending battle with mediocrity. Occasionally he writes a blog post, too.