Revealing Details

As a “trigger happy” photographer, aided by the convenience of the digital camera revolution, selecting images from my extensive archives for an exhibit is a challenge. Most recently this challenge came when I was offered a show at a prestigious design showroom in Sao Paulo as part of the BoomSPdesign/DesignWeekend. I began the assignment by gathering clues, first from the event itself.

BoomSPdesign, now in its fifth year, has become known as a gathering of high profile designers and architects. So I decided to pay homage to the event by selecting images from my files that document the work of five well-known architects known around the globe for shaping contemporary architecture.

Basel Messe New Hall, by Herzog & de Meuron. Photo by Paul Clemence.

I found the second clue in the space itself. The showroom, Creative Original Design (C.O.D.), is in a landmark building by Brazil’s Pritzker Prize winner Paulo Mendes da Rocha. It’s a most unusual and inspired space. So I thought I would do something to create a dialogue with the building’s rigid geometry and stark concrete.

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NYT Building, New York, by Renzo Piano. Photo by Paul Clemence.

I chose images that represent movement and texture brought forward by the play of light and shadow. This turned out to be the right choice. The interiors at C.O.D. offered no typical gallery white wall to hang the work, but the concrete walls lined with a metal grid made for a perfect backdrop for the images. Layering being one of my favorite architecture features to shoot, this connection between images and venue was a match made in heaven!

Metrosol Parasol, Seville, by Juergen Mayer H. Photo by Paul Clemence.

From the undulating ribbon-like effect of the metal skin used by Herzog & de Meuron at the Messe Basel New Hall, to the voluptuous grid of Juergen Mayer H.’s Metrosol Parasol in Seville, I’m very happy with my final selection. The images express my angle of capturing the architect’s design intention while establishing a dialogue with the architectural setting they are set in.

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D & D Center, Sao Paulo, Brazil, by Botti Rubin. Photo by Paul Clemence.

A part of the show is dedicated to Sao Paulo. For this segment, I invited Rosana Schmidt, C.O.D.’s principal, to make the final decision. In talking to her, I could tell that Rosana really understood my perspective. She told me that she appreciated that my images for “indulging in the details that could express the whole of these buildings”. So I trusted her keen sense of what to pick.  “You found these interesting architectural moments amidst the city chaos and pulsating rhythm,” she told me. “It makes for a very strong statement and eclectic mix in this iconic space, with these high design furnishings and all these other major architects.”

Oca, Sao Paulo, by Oscar Niemeyer. Photo by Paul Clemence.

I write this while attending BoomSPdesign and hearing design luminaries from Dubai to Basel and talking to a design-educated crowd, while experiencing Sao Paulo, I think our final selection of images fits well within the space as well as with the event and momentum this city is going through. These photos are a reflection of what architecture is for me: not just buildings and shelter or a design expression, but a way of thinking and looking at the world.

Paul Clemence is an award-winning photographer whose work is part of many collections, including the Mies van der Rohe Archives and housed by MoMA, New York.  He exhibits both in the U.S. and on the international fine art circuit, from classic B & W prints to large scale photo installations. A published author, his work can also be seen in major design and lifestyle publications. His “Architecture Photography” Facebook page receives over half a million hits monthly.

Categories: Architecture