Mel Goode – Architecture and Fashion

In this lecture Mel Goode drew connections between the worlds of architecture and fashion.  Mel argued that the two are connected in a number of ways.


The origins of fashion and architecture both come from the practical goal of offering protection – clothing protects the body and keeps it cool or warm, and buildings provide shelter from the elements, again keeping people cool or warm.


There have been many fashion designers influenced by architecture and architects that have designed clothing and jewellery:

‘Classic designers like Versace, Balmain and Cardin all studied architecture before switching to fashion, while legendary architects like Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry have taken time off from designing buildings to work on jewellery, shoes and bags.’ (HighSnobiety 2016)

Pierre Cardin’s bubble dress, influenced by architectural forms:

montagem_pierre_cardin_f(Image from WLNS)

Shoe design by Zaha Hadid:


(Image from Dezeen)

Coco Chanel famously said that ‘Fashion is architecture.  It is a matter of proportions.’


Fashion designers often work with designers and architects for their shows, installations, and retail outlets.

Architect India Mahdavi’s design for RED Valentino: redvalentino-store-pierpaolo-piccioli-and-india-mahdavi-interior-design-london_dezeen_2364_ss_0-852x609(Image from Dezeen)

Schemata Architects’ design for Mint Designs:mintdesigns-shop-aoyama-tokyojo-nagasaka-schemata-architects_dezeen_1704_col_0(Image from Dezeen)

Zeitgeist and Genius Loci

In the lecture Mel also talked about zeitgeist: ‘spirit of the age’ and genius loci: ‘spirit of place’.

phenemenological approach to architecture is critical of ‘the dominance of visual aspects in architecture’ It is also critical of ‘the excessive rationalisation of the design process’ (from Abiboo).

‘Those that support [this approach] tend to favour [genuis loci], equating avant-garde with temporality and visual excess, while more profound and metaphoric design is linked to a deeper analysis of context.'(from Abiboo)

The approach argues that ‘we experience architecture with all our senses, and … this experience is ongoing, dynamic and culturally dependent’ (from Abiboo).   It favours the process of using personal experience and a study of context and culture.

‘To design with zeitgeist is to observe the moment, being fast and dynamic, while to observe genius loci is to undergo a slow and profound look at permanent knowledge.’ (from Abiboo)

The Place of Interiors

As a philosophy graduate and now a student of interior design this debate fascinates me.  It seems to be very polarised and some synthesis of the two extremes seems possible, perhaps in the middle ground of interiors.

As Mel put it, interiors are somewhere between architecture and fashion in their gestation period, and I wonder if they are also more amenable than either to synthesising elements of the zeitgeist/genius loci debate.

Because interior designers are often working with an existing space we can work in a fast and dynamic way if needed.  On the other hand we can develop ideas slowly and thoughtfully using intuition and study.

I see merit in both approaches – the former seems exciting and lively, the latter seems sensitive and thoughtful.  I quite like the idea of not having to choose one approach over the other – interiors seem amenable to both!


Abiboo. (Unknown). Quick Tour through Phenomenological Thinking in Architecture. Retrieved from

Good Reads. (Unknown). Coco Chanel. Retrieved from

HighSnobiety. (2016). 10 Architecture Influences in fashion you need to know about. Retrieved from

Relph, E. (2015). Placeness, Place, Placelessness. Retrieved from

WLNS. (Unknown). Pierre Cardin Bubble Dress. Retrieved from


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