architecture-interior-art

architecture-interior-art

TOM KOVAC interview with design boom

Posted by ewanvfe on 20/03/2008



tom kovac

was born in 1958 in slovenia.
he currently resides in melbourne, australia. kovac studied
at RMIT University receiving his bachelor of architecture and
master of architecture in 2001.
kovac architecture has participated in numerous invited
competitions and projects such as the proposal for a
new world trade centre in new york.
he has provided creative direction for design leadership at
centre for excellence in digital design at RMIT, lab.3000 and
since 2003 the creative capital board for the state government
of victoria. an adjunct professor at RMIT university,
kovac`s teaching methodology complements this practice
related research and experimental design direction,
which covers a broad spectrum of design and creative a
ctivities within the field of digital architecture and design.
kovac has participated in numerous prestigious international
exhibitions in europe, united states and japan, most notably
at the venice architecture biennale exhibitions in 2000, 2002,
2004 and in 2006. kovac also took part in the ‘non standard
architecture’ exhibition at the centre georges pompidou
paris in 2004. he was curator for the australian exhibition
‘emerging talent emerging technologies’ at the 2nd beijing
architecture biennial in 2006.

———————————————————————–
designboom met tom kovac in milan on january 15th, 2007.
———————————————————————–

what is the best moment of the day?
the first important act of the morning is the coffee time.
it determines the mood for the rest off the day.
some of the best conversation and design ideas have
come from some amazing cafes and restaurants around
the world and not from sitting in front of the office desk
or computer screen.

what kind of music do you listen to at the moment?
my Ipod is loaded with roughly 10,000 songs so whether
im driving or flying the 21 hours to any destination to and from
australia I listen to lots of varied music ranging from techno
to experimental to classical. there is always a piece of music
that evokes a special nuance, place and time.

what books do you have on your bedside table?
I spend a lot of my time travelling, so I have accumulated
piles of books, which I still haven’t managed to read.
currently I read ray kurzweil’s ‘singularity is near’ and
steven wolfram’s ‘a new kind of science’.
my most recent long haul plane reads was malcolm gladwell`s
‘the tipping point’ and ‘the long tail’ by chris anderson.

do you read design and architecture magazines?
no. I have no interest in design or architecture magazines.
technology has pretty much reshaped and sped up the way
we consume information. the balance of editorial power
has shifted from traditional media, shifting the supply chain
from big to small. there are some really great people producing
amazing blogs, pod casts, you tube etc, which are changing
the consumption patterns and my access points to information.

where do you get news from? newspapers?
an interesting question about the speed of access to
information today! a technologist friend (sean kelly) has
created a collaborative software, quick-links which is going
to be the next big thing. it has been implemented within RMIT
university`s school of architecture and design this year
as a teaching and learning tool.
one of its really other great functions is the way one can
access the latest news via the RSS feeds and manage the
information which can be added and shared with other
students and users within the group network.

I assume you notice how women dress.
do you have any preferences?
I am not sure who said this but I remember a great line:
‘when a woman is well dressed you notice the woman and
when a woman is badly dressed you notice the clothes.’

are there any clothes that you avoid wearing?
yes. anything with labels and things that are outrageously
loud because they stand out.
my sense of fashion verges on monochrome, is mostly
black or a shade of black, leaving out most things beyond
that colour range and style.

do you have any pets?
unfortunately anything outside work related activities is
not a possibility so there are ‘pet projects’ and ‘pet ideas’.

when you were a child, did you want to become an
architect?
most definitely not.
architecture was the furtherest thing from my mind.
as a child I sometimes liked to watch my father assemble
exquisite watches from very tiny pieces of dials and
springs into beautiful working objects.
I think that this fascination opened up an inquiry about
making things and how things work.
through drawing I learned to transfer my imagination
to the medium of paper and the potentials of three
dimensional creation.

who would you like to design something for?
I guess the one person who I have always wanted to
design a house for – and I’ll probably never get an
opportunity to, because she’s my greatest critic –
is my mother who has no idea what I do,
why I’m doing it and what it means.

do you discuss your work with other architects?
I try not to.
I have some friends in architecture but we don’t talk
about architecture. we talk about other things.
architects are probably the most boring people to talk
to about architecture.

describe your style as a good friend of yours
might describe it.
an interest in how things work, how form and space is created
and what informs architecture’s creation and existence.
an inquiry in the processes that have the ability to positively
transform and affect our existence through design,
architecture and technologies that inform our creation.

which of your projects has given you the most
satisfaction?
architecture and design requires trust and great relationships
…sharing a similar vision.
it also requires someone who believes in your work.
without this support you can’t create meaningful outcomes
in architecture and design.
one example of this process is with alberto alessi.

can you describe an evolution in your work?
I think the project work is in constant flux, constantly evolving
and in dynamic transformation.
the kind of technology and tools we have today enable for
more experimental research based practice that has a more
interdisciplinary approach.

is there a designer or architect from the past that
has influenced you or that you particularly appreciate
the work of?
in any creative pursuit one requires people and mentors
that enable one’s creativity to flourish. I was fortunate that
I met leon van schaik at RMIT university early in my career
who took a very supportive interest in my work that has
enabled us to develop and expand our potentials in the
areas of research, education and practice.
frederic migayrou of CNAC centre georges pompidou is a
visionary who has influenced pretty much everyone’s
lives in my generation.

and contemporary designers and architects?
not sure I could categorise them as influences but certainly
as friends I respect. there are always people one values but
rarely meets, be it time or geographical distance.

as an academic design educator, how do you valuate
online lerning?
as educators it’s also our role to offer innovation and risk,
offer learning potentials and knowledge to people that may
not have traditionally access to education whether it’s
because of economical situations, or geographical location.
at RMIT university we are currently introducing collaborative
software (such as quick links – see above) which is enabling
student’s access to online learning in unprecedented ways.

for example, what designboom is doing
(with the online education courses design-aerobics)
is a very positive step forward for learning and sharing
design culture globally and also outside traditionally structured
coursework.
not everyone has a desire for a structured undergraduate
program but perhaps a need for a better understanding for
new methods and research in an area of interest and
online learning extends this education, enabling people to
share knowledge and their learning experience.

do you think using ‘open source’ technology could be
increasingly used to achieve design goals?
I think that applying the idea ‘open source’, in design
and architecture would be a very intelligent way of
expanding design’s horizons in the current global climate.
technological advances are enabling knowledge to evolve
at an exponential rate. most of the big problems require big
solutions and design and architecture has a really great
opportunity. open source design could be about a healthy
exchange of ideas between various industries and technologies.
it’s a potential for a collaborative and meaningful top down
bottom up outcomes and output that may have creative
solutions by many for many.

copyright protection is not a big issue for you?
I really think it’s a bit late in the day for worrying about
placing a stake on who owns the idea.
leon van schaik would say ‘ideas travel’.
I don’t think copyright protection exists in design anymore to
the degree that one may hope for.
I think one should open oneself and share equally.
who is the creator may not be so relevant or important.
the question should be more ‘are the ideas meaningful?’
‘is the outcome positive?’
if you remove the star element out of this equation and you
start thinking:
are we producing better environments?
better products?
better education?

do you have any advice for the young?
yeah! keep out of architecture. (laughs)
there is a great line in don carlos ‘don juan’ :
‘and please remind him to honour the dreams of his
youth now that he has become a man’.
very few people in life have the fortune in life or the ability
to do this! never substitute your dreams for somebody else’s
and develop your own ideas without outside influence.
that way, you can have something potentially unique and
beneficial to offer to the world of design.
and that’s perhaps a very worthy ambition to strive for.

what big challenges are facing the architecture and
design schools?
education should be thinking about innovation and how
research can add value which can translate into useful
design outcomes. this means for me embracing what leon van
schaik at RMIT calls the ‘tri polar condition’ where you get an
overlap between, practice, research and education,
not entirely within one discipline but a hybrid inter-disciplinary
program approach between as well as outside creative fields.

is there anything that you are afraid of regarding
the future?
having bad coffees or not having a great cup of coffee.
that’s a big fear. (laughs)
there is always the concern that design and architecture in
its current state may not be demonstrating and producing
outcomes with tangible and sustainable creative
contributions to the future of this world.
there is always the question about the relevance of
creative industries and their potentials to embrace and
create solutions, in order to produce the promises that
are well and certainly within their grasp to keep.

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