Susan Morris | Essays

Architecture & Design Film Festival 2022: Design

Opening the 2022 Architecture & Design Film festival was Fashion Reimagined about Amy Powney, designer of the fashion label Mother of Pearl and her efforts to make a sustainable collection. She won the 2017 British Vogue and Council of Fashion Designers annual award of £100,000 which she put to making a completely green line of clothing in an industry with notorious environmental problems: quantity, waste, sweat shop labor, polluter (chemical waste, carbon emissions, animal treatment) — the antithesis of the glamour of fashion.  She calls her line “No Frills” and the film chronicles her worldwide attempts in fits and starts. As designer Anne Klein said: “Clothes won’t change the world. The women who wear them will.”

A World to Shape follows two Dutch designers, Nienke Hoogvliet (1989-) a textile designer and Dave Hakkens (1988-) an industrial designer, in their respective green endeavors. Hoogvliet uses material research in textiles using seaweed and fish leather, and herb-based dyes. Hakeens became known for two projects, Phonebloks, a concept for modular telephones, and Precious Plastic, a movement to develop and promote plastic recycling. Here he buys a plot of land in Portugal that he calls Project Kamp which he turns into a sustainable community as an open-source blueprint for a new society (Jaden Smith is a fan), posting regular YouTube videos with each effort.  

Winy Maas (1958-), founding principal of the Dutch architecture firm MVRDV is the subject of Under Tomorrow’s Sky. Building across Asia and Europe, with many projects in his native Netherlands, Maas advocates for “'high rises on a human scale' — stacked structural volumes with open spaces and greenery around them that feel like vertical villages.” We also see his Why Factory, a research studio at Delft University which explores urbanist questions.  One of the buildings highlighted is the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, the world’s first publicly accessible art storage facility at at Museumpark, Rotterdam that looks like a big mirrored bowl with rooftop garden.

Still from Bawa’s Garden

Geoffrey Bawa (1919 – 2003), a Sri Lankan architect trained in London, bought an abandoned rubber estate on the SW coast at Lunuganga in Bawa’s Garden, planning to create a tropical wilderness, which is hunted down in the film as a “lost garden.”  Influenced by both colonial and traditional Ceylonese architecture and the role of water, Bawa embraced indigenous materials and crafts. He built widely including Siri Lanka’s new Parliament building at Kotta (1982), as well as many projects for a local nun, and a home for textile designer End da Silva.  

Richard Henriquez: Building Stories features Canadian architect Henriquez (1941-) active in Vancouver, winning Canada’s highest architectural awards. He is part of a multi-generational family of architects, and designs with historical context.

A series of films chronicled designers; Maija Isola: Master of Colour and Form shows the Finnish designer (1927 – 2001) of Marimekko fabrics, over 500 prints during her 38-year tenure. Grethe Meyer: The Danish Porcelain Queen, Meyer (1918 – 2008), who was trained as an architect, was renowned for her Royal Copenhagen crockery during the “Golden Age” of Danish design in the 1940s and ‘50s, combining humanistic thinking with scientific methodology. Alas the film has dramatized her life with actors at different ages. And Vladimir Kagan: A Life of Design visits with Kagan (1927 – 2016), a modern master of organic furniture like the Freeform Sofa. We follow his last chair designs, Gabriella and Gigi, from concept through creation and his embrace of 3-D printing as well as traditional craftsmanship.

Read about the architecture films of the ADFF here.


Bawa’s Garden, directed by Clara Kraft Isono
Fashion Reimagined, directed by Becky Hutner
Grethe Meyer: The Danish Porcelain Queen, directed by Isabel Bernadette Brammer
Maija Isola: Master of Colour and Form, directed by Leena Kilpeläinen
Richard Henriquez: Building Stories, directed by Gavin Froome, Mike Bernard
Under Tomorrow’s Sky, directed by Jan Louter
Vladimir Kagan: A Life of Design, directed by Edgar Howard, Elisabeth Clark, Thomas Piper
A World to Shape, directed by Ton van Zantvoort

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