We had a conversation with Studio Verter about their process and inspiration behind the winning design for the UNFAIR23 Architect Award.
What defines your practice as an architect duo?
We always start from a careful looking, taking things in. We like working with the idea of a narrative, a story that can unfold through a design. We are fascinated by how things come together, how things are built, by space and proportion. Each design is part of an iterative process that happens between the two of us in which we are constantly trying things out, discussing, and negotiating.
What served as the biggest inspiration for this design?
The idea of the history of the fair. We were fascinated with the yearly reinvention taking place, building up and taking down a fair again and again and we wanted to introduce the idea of history. What if something ephemeral like an art fair would have a history, and would interact with the ruins of past editions as a sort of archeology? We wanted to honour the previous editions and make them part of the design.
At the occasion of Unfair’s 10-year anniversary, you’ve used elements from our previous winners in your design for UNFAIR23. What stood out most in their designs?
What was interesting to us is the idea of a shared DNA between all the designs. The previous editions are all very different but when we started working with fragments we started understanding some shared ideas around scale and circulation. We were surprised to find that combining them was more natural than you would think.
How has the already existing space of the Gashouder affected the design process? What is the biggest challenge?
We really liked the idea of a circular space with no clear hierarchy and no clear points of orientation because it seems to go against the idea of what an art fair ‘should’ be. We wanted to work with that, the labyrinthic, non-linear quality of the space. With the design we provide some points of reference but the space allows for wondering and discovery, there are many different ways to experience the fair, there is not one straightforward route.
Is architecture art?
No, not per se. It is difficult to answer because first, we’d have to establish what is art and what is not. Both architecture and art are very broad categories and the application of either term is not straightforward. Which is something we enjoy, for us architecture is not something clearly defined but something quite nebulous, something that can entail many different things. We don’t find it important to define ourselves as within or outside art.
What do you look most forward to in regards to UNFAIR23?
We look forward to seeing the design come to life with the work of artists, we are excited to see how they will interact with the space, how they will approach it, and what they will do to it. We can’t wait to see the past and present of Unfair united in one space and to celebrate the previous designers and artists with this edition.