PHILADELPHIA — Zaha Hadid, the Pritzker Prize-winning, Iraqi-born British architect and designer, is the subject of a retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, “Zaha Hadid: Form in Motion,” on view through March 25. The surprise star of the show may be the Z-Car I automobile, a nonfunctioning three-wheeler commissioned by a gallery owner, Kenny Schachter.
The Z-Car greets visitors at the entrance to the museum gallery, and decorates bus advertising and posters throughout the city. It was first shown in the United States in 2006 at the Guggenheim Museum.
At the time, Ms. Hadid and Mr. Schachter described the piece as a sculpture rather than a prototype. Its polycarbon body is made of high-density polyurethane foam, machined by computer-controlled milling machines. The finish is pearlescent. Ms. Hadid also created a building design for Mr. Schachter’s Rove Gallery in the Shoreditch neighborhood of East London.
Computer-machined forms are a critical part of Ms. Hadid’s working methods, employed in shaping buildings as well as the jewelry, tea sets, Lacoste shoes and other items on display in the show.
“Form in Motion,” which is curated by Kathryn Bloom Hiesinger, includes jewelry for Swarovski; three-legged tables that appear liquid; and an angular, calligraphic design for a chair called the Z-chair, introduced this year. According to the exhibition’s literature, Ms. Hadid’s inspirations hark back to the utopian early days of modernism, when art, architecture and design were thought of as a single pursuit, creating a bold new order.
The idea of a single designer shaping a house, as well as the furniture, dishes and other objects inside it, is celebrated throughout the exhibition. Many of the products echo the shapes of Zaha Hadid’s buildings; her Crevasse vases for Alessi, the kitchenware and home-furnishings brand, were created as part of a post-9/11 competition to rethink ground zero, and purposely evoke the twin towers at the World Trade Center site.
With its its gullwing doors, the Z-Car, which was fabricated by G.T.M. Cars, a British kit-car maker, in theory would house a hydrogen fuel-cell or battery-electric powertrain. Mr. Schachter has stated his intention to produce additional models of the vehicles, should buyers materialize.
A second Z-Car, with four wheels and a passing resemblance to some of the urban runabouts shown at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show in September, is now on display as part of “Car Culture,” an exhibition at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, or the Center of Art and Media, in Karlsruhe, Germany, through Jan. 8
Zaha Hadid has finally used her design skills for something truly remarkable and at the same time good for the environment. Using her mastery of the organic form - Starchitect, Zaha Hadid has developed a series of sensuous looking prototype cars that are both aerodynamic and fuel efficient. - Ecomanta.