Steven Holl and Toshiko Mori presented their Domus for 2023

In conversation with Walter Mariotti, the two Guest Editors have outlined a year that will explore the blurred boundaries between disciplines, stretching across city, nature, memory and criticism.

2023 is a crucial year for Domus, as stressed by Giovanna Mazzocchi Bordone, president of Editoriale Domus, when presenting this year’s Guest Editors, Steven Holl and Toshiko Mori: an evolution, entrusting the magazine to two figures united by the vision of a connection between disciplines, between architecture, art and design, increasingly necessary as it is in the contemporary cultural scene. Two figures who are at the same time professionals, teachers and intellectuals, Walter Mariotti, editor-in-chief of Domus, confirms: characteristics that do not come together very often.

Read: Steven Holl: “The oceanic”

“To me, Domus has been THE magazine for architecture, design and art all my life,”Holl has stated as a start “This work is a honor for me, but also a great commitment, which is why I asked for Toshiko Mori to share it with me. In the five issues I will curate, I will proceed from the macro to the micro.

I start with the first issue, the oceanic feeling: galaxies, Buckminster Fuller, the idea of half a planet, the oceanic as a revelation. The projects, then, rural housing and dense settlements . Perception, as evocated by Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Light. Colour, according to Anthony Titus and Jose Oubrerie. Water. Architecture as an enmeshed experience entangling with the environment that receives it. Proportions, scale and perception, starting with the golden section, and then urbanism, with a choral review of eight cities; then stochastic thinking, the synthesis of the arts reflecting the blurred boundaries of the manifesto we drafted. My last issue will then explore the Haptic Realm.”

“The idea of blurred boundaries unites me and Steven as we will work without boundaries,” said Mori, who will open her season with the June issue. “In fact, I will start with forests: a theme linking to the earth, a heritage to be seen as a community, which the design community must protect. At the heart of the issue we’ll have a book, Finding the mother tree by Suzanne Simard, a hymn to the inner wisdom of nature that must be central to design: consideration of resources and their life cycle are central values, their impact on communities. The July/August issue will explore memory, an intimacy of human experience that allows us to understand how we are connected within a collective memory, just as different disciplines are. In September we will study materials, creators and manufacturers: Issey Miyake is the departure, designer, innovator and explorer of blurred boundaries through collaboration with artists, engineers, architects. The third issue will be about light, the physics of the ephemeral, its phenomenology and ecology. The last will be centered around theTemporal, investigating environmental phenomena, our presence and position on Earth, so provisional and transitory, and temporary structures as ecological themes: we must live as flamingos, landing with lightness on clear waters, leaving no muddy waters as they leave”.

Holl and Mori’s work, as Mariotti points out, moving from the form of the manifesto to translate into the thematic issues of a magazine, succeeds in addressing a global audience while using timeless categories, but above all puts criticism in the fundamental position of a tangible intervention in the present: “We receive in today’s plethora of information a kind of digital spray with no concept” thoughtless, as Holl defined it. “Domus already has a physical dimension in itself, and I will deal with the concrete practice of the designers, to explore the depth of their processes” It is the direction of “total design” that Mori evokes, “a great tradition of Domus, exploring different objects and scales to reflect on the essence of design, uniting different voices that express an emotional connection with humanity, something that the contemporary digital dimension puts at risk”.

There is a political responsibility in this, as in architecture, Holl summarized: “Today we all realize that we live interdependent lives. It becomes necessary to overcome values that are still nationalist and tribal, to live as a global family. That is why Domus must maintain its dimension as a not only Italian but global media, and that is why I accepted this job: to give hope and look towards a global future. Domus can do this, and so can design’.

Mori agreed, “we cannot predict the future, but architecture can generate narratives with which to explore a possible future, a vision of a better world made possible by putting aside obsessions of control and domination and by thinking for future generations. With its long timeframe, architecture leads us to contemplate a future, to follow a transformative value, as we will see in the memory issue, in the preservation of Hiroshima as in a city master plan”.

Purchase here Domus January issue

Cities, in fact: “We will see cities full of inspiration, Mexico City, Dhaka,” says Holl, “cities are the greatest artefact of humanity, but I also see the need for their coexistence with the natural realm, with the landscape. Preserve, and re-plant at the same time”. Cities as organisms are capable of overcoming countless crises according to Mori, but also marked by imbalances, accentuated by the global crisis: “the relationship between city and nature runs through all the issues of our Domus, the possibility of relieving the pressure of urban living, of seeking greater equality in urban living. I am a citizen of New York, and have always focused on seeing the other side of the coin, a non-monolithic approach to its nature in order to study its life”.

Photos: Ramak Fazel

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