Friday, December 11, 2009

The culture of splits

After learning from the news that FOA is closing as Farshid and Alejandro split, and then going to the JDS book launch at Storefront, I just can't help but think that design partnerships tend to eventually fall apart, no matter how much you emphasize the importance of collaboration at the beginning. Here's a list of splits that I can think of... in the world of architecture:

Foreign Office Architects
Founded in 1995 by Alejandro Zaera-Polo and Farshid Moussavi.
Split and started different offices in 2009.

Founded in 2001 by Bjarke Ingels and Julien de Smedt.
Split and started different offices (BIG and JDS) in 2006.

Abalos & Herreros
Founded in 1984 by Iñaki Abalos and Juan Herreros.
Split and started different offices (Abalos-Sentkiewicz Arquitectos and Herreros Arquitectos) in 2006.

Coop Himmelb(l)au
Founded in 1968 by Wolf Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky, and Michael Holzer.
Holzer left in 1971. Swiczinsky left in 2006.

Enric Miralles and Carme Pinós
Founded in 1984, split in 1991.

Founded in 1972 by Thom Mayne, Livio Santini, James Stafford, and Michael Brickler. Michael Rotondi joined in 1976.
Stafford worked with Eric Owen Moss in the late 70s before setting up his office in 1980. Rotondi left in 1991.

Founded in 1975 by Rem Koolhaas, Elia Zenghelis, Madelon Vriesendorp, and Zoe Zenghelis.
Elia Zenghelis started his office in 1987. Zoe Zenghelis gradually worked more on her own paintings.

It is natural that people have different agendas and different opinions, not talking about egoistic personalities and financial conflicts. Design partnership is a kind of particular bonding that requires way more trust and tolerance, given the subjective nature of design. I guess you need to be kindergarten friends to work together like Herzog and de Meuron.

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