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Alvaro Siza Vieira

Alvaro Siza Vieira
By Cristina Morozzi -

The design section of the 1990-2004 Portugal Exhibition at Milan’s Triennale (November 2004) hosted two objects by Alvaro Siza Vieira, the Portuguese architect who best embodies the concise, melancholic expressiveness of his native land: two small, slender, ingeniously-designed metal objects - a bookstop by DDI of 1990, and Fil, a table lamp by Mobles 114, also produced in 1990.
As it happens, Alvaro Siza Vieira has done most of his designing in Italy. All told, however, his projects can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Perhaps he is too shy and too exacting to really hit it off with Italy’s sanguine, garrulous entrepreneurs.
Patrizia Acierno, owner of the company of the same name, today trading as Woodesign, tells how she came to produce Siza’s Cadeira almost as a bet when, in 1989, the designer-architect arrived in Sicily to meet Ludovico Corrao, the town-designer mayor, on the question of the reconstruction of the earthquake stricken town of Gibellina. On viewing the wood prototype that had been put together from a rough pencil sketch he had prepared three days before, Siza remarked that his drawing had required smaller thickness wood. “Eleven centimetres, I think I noted!”, he murmured. The model was measured. It was 13!
Doing design projects with architects is often not smooth sailing. They can be touchy and hard to please. And sometimes, not even very good designers, is the complaint often voiced by manufacturers.
Siza though is top of his class. You just have to look at Casa de Chá in Matosinhos (Oporto), Siza’s home town. This small restaurant, perched on a rock battered by the waves of the Atlantic ocean, was Siza’s first architectural brief. The glazed wall restaurant looking out over the sea seems to be on a level with the waves. Siza designed everything in it: tables, chairs, settees, trolleys. The simple, elegant shapes set a soft, welcoming tone. Although modern, there is something warmly familiar about the design style of...

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