25 April will see the most ambitious recent project of the Prada Italian fashion house start its 5-month life cycle in Seoul: over these months, Transformer - a rotating art pavilion unique with its chameleon-like ability of shape-shifting - will host an exhibition by the Prada fashion house, film festival, contemporary art show and a number of other art events. The visual image of Transformer was designed by the starchitect Rem Koolhaas who has close links with the fashion house (e.g., the Prada epicentre in San Francisco, the new home of the Prada Art Centre - in progress). The pavilion consists of a tetrahedron steel carcass and mobile geometrical parts covered with elastic white fabric. The four different façades and configurations of the floor panel makes it possible, when necessary, for floors to transform into walls and for walls to become ceilings; each of the different configurations creates another shape - a cross, circle, rectangle or hexagon. The project's location is equally ambitious: it is set on the premises of the 16th-century Emperor's Palace. The opening exhibition, Waist Down-Skirts by Miuccia Prada, will be dedicated to the fashion house; in June the Prada Transformer will host a film festival featuring a programme selected by the Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel): Flesh Mind and Soul promises to bring together a great variety of films representing different countries, decades and genres.
Prada is not the first fashion house to experiment with travelling contemporary art pavilions; a recent example was Chanel's foray into this area of fashion/art/marketing games. The world tour of its travelling art pavilion (designed by Zaha Hadid) was interrupted halfway at its third stop in New York due to the current global recession. Unlike Chanel's "flying saucer", the Prada Transformer is not scheduled to change its location: it is staying in Seoul - at least for now. The Prada people claim that Seoul was chosen as the home of the project thanks to the great enthusiasm and interest expressed by the city fathers. However, another significant factor is likely to have influenced the decision: namely, the Asian market, strategically important to the luxury fashion business.
Keywords: Seoul, exhibition, art