INTERVIEW |With Artist / Architect Kaan Alpagut
Kaan Alpagut was born and raised in Cyprus, but trained as an architect in London. He is interested in exploring ways of creating spaces and spatial interventions that connect public and private, which is how his latest commission by the luxurious South Place Hotel, London, came to be realised.
Can you tell us a bit about your new commission and how it came about?
South Place Hotel holds an annual art commission where recently graduated new talent from London in the art, design and architecture industries submit their proposals and are judged by a panel of experts in different fields including names like Helen Little, Curator of Modern and Contemporary British Art from the Tate Modern; Eleanor Young, Executive Editor of the RIBA Journal; and Tina Norden, Associate Director at Conran+Partners. I was announced the winner and was commissioned to produce my piece for the hotel. I had always been interested in shop windows and how they communicate with public spaces, and thought it would be an amazing opportunity to showcase my work and do something out of the box that would be on display for an entire year in such a busy part of London.
You use a lot of geometric patterns in your work; who, or what, influences you in your choices of shapes and patterns?
Being trained as an architect, I was always fascinated by lines, simple geometries and how they can eventually create complex elements when they come together. I really admire the works of artists like Josef Albers, Bridget Riley and Felice Varini and how they create such spatial qualities by just using lines and contours even on a piece of paper.
Why did you choose to work with marble patterns and what affect has this had in your designs?
Marble was something I was very familiar with from a very young age. Being born in a Mediterranean island, it was one of those materials I could never escape, it was everywhere. The history of marble and the role it has played in design throughout time was always something I questioned. I wanted to attempt to highlight the beauty of this material that we have all become so immune to, due to its ubiquitous use.
Your piece at the South Place Hotel is a physical realisation of your digital work. How is working with physical materials different to working in the digital realm, in your experience?
I always thought these digital collages I made had a notion of space rather than just being these two-dimensional illustrations, I always knew I wanted to translate them into reality. The South Place Hotel’s window was the perfect location to express that. The best part about working with marble physically is probably the surprises you get with this nature of the material, the accidental patterns, the reflections and the way they dictate compositions.
What is your personal ‘golden rule’ of design?
Context, context, context… I believe a lot of designers lack that nowadays, especially in public art.
Do you feel you have a signature style and what defines it?
Maybe not a signature style but a certain perspective and a way of looking at the world. I think style is something that changes with us as we progress as individuals too. It’s the way we reason things and understand the context that makes us designers.
The South Place Hotel has been named one of the ‘Big Six: Art Hotels’ by The Independent, where is your favourite place in the world to stay? (And why?)
I love hotels! And I love the beach. This small village called Comporta in Portugal is probably my favourite place on Earth at the moment. The white sand dunes, the blue Atlantic waters, the rice fields, the unpretentious crowd and the understated luxury of the whole place is just to die for – stay at Sublime Comporta Hotel.
If you were to own just one piece of classic design what would you choose?
The bed from the Misura series designed by Superstudio.
If you could chose just one house or building in which to live out of the rest of your life, where would it be?
I would probably want to die in a Case Study house, somewhere warm. Or maybe the Glass House designed by Lina Bo Bardi in Brazil, it’s just out of this world. Lots of light, the relationship of inside and outside and the way spaces flow into nature was always something that attracted me.
What’s next for you?
I am currently working on a new commission. In the meantime I have started printing my digital collages on timber and loving the feedback so far, I will be stocking them in a number of shops very soon.