Celebrities have recently discovered a power in associating with design. Madonna as usual has displayed her inimitable ability to be at the vanguard by using Marc Newson’s Lockheed Lounge in her music video for ‘Rain’ in 1993. The lounge makes its debut appearance and gains new heights as a stand in for a lesser prop of the postmodern era.
The video features Madonna and Lockheed as cool detached counterparts contemplating love and pain, of course we are talking of Madonna, so the hard surfaced Lockheed does the job just fine. The cool atmosphere of the video is contrasted by the songstress’ femininity and longing. The mood is enhanced by lighting and the lounge is stylistically matched to the microphone and other accessories. This is the dawning of a new age of video craft. However it begs the question, is the Lockheed Lounge more seductive for having the musing star sit on it or is it the other way around? If only the Lockheed could speak.
The Lockheed is cool, hard, curvilinear, mechanical, futuristic, and seductive. An expression of a perfection that has become a Marc Newson signature. It’s poised, dynamic and symbolic of an awareness of its precedents and the future. Both seat and sitter are extremely self-aware.
If Madonna is to the Lockheed lounge then Lady Gaga is to the Moraine designed by Zaha Hadid. Inspired by glacial formations a moraine is a mass of rocks and sediment deposited by a glacier. Like the Moraine Lady Gaga is born of the mass, very appropriate for our new pseudo-modernist era. Both break new ground, the Moraine with its radical curvilinear asymmetrical form and Lady Gaga with her performances and fashion sense.
Is the Moraine sofa dressed in Lady Gaga’s clothing?
Sculptural, abstract and seductive, the moulded free-form shape of the Moraine is like a large sanguine engineered cut of meat. Using colour and texture Hadid elicits a visceral response. It’s come hither allure challenges us to reinvent ourselves to negotiate sitting on her. It’s by no means conventional. A variety of postures that only a showgirl could perform come to mind, don’t mind the formalities. It certainly is not for the faint of heart. To sit on the Moraine would be like sinking into a warm sea of blood.
In the same way that Lady Gaga enters a room in shocking costume Moraine also makes a spectacle of herself. How dare Hadid shock and awe to gain attention. Despite her organic appeal Moraine is a physical expression of digital technology that is capable of expressing biomorphic form and a design process that has become a staple of Hadid’s creative practice.
The design was commissioned from London-based architect Zaha Hadid by the Italian manufacturers Sawaya & Morini SpA. Examples are held in corporate and private collections and one is in the collection of the Powerhouse Museum.
Artists, actors, singers and even sports stars, will continue to brand and connect themselves with objects, movements, lifestyles, products and events as an embodiment of aspects of themselves. Brad Pitt has recently aligned himself with design and sustainability and is the narrator of the recent series e2 series for PBS.
However the question will continue to arise, who gains the most from the notoriety? Who for instance gains from Angelia Jolie’s photo campaign for Louis Vuitton?
No longer is the celebrity muse as was once Marilyn Monroe for Studio 65’s Lips Lounge or Mae West for Salvador Dali. Today it is the other way around. Celebrities are developing and enhancing their image through association with the products of design and design practice itself. They are no longer mere performers, they are significant creators who can make and break.