La Prairie x Mario Botta Archisculpture art installation
Photo: Courtesy

When it comes to collaborative effort, La Prairie doesn’t do things by half. Stalwart in both the cutting-edge skincare industry and the arts, the House has seen fit to crossover both realms in grand fashion many a time — just take a gander at several past editions of Art Basel, and you’ll know what we mean.

With lofty commissions helmed by creative minds that span the gamut from photographers to artists, this year’s artistic endeavour taps on Swiss architect Mario Botta and his work with geometric forms to create a new, ambitious installation inspired by the origin of beauty. Christened Archisculpture, this collaboration comes on the heels of La Prairie and Botta’s first partnership at the 2018 Art Basel in Miami Beach, where the renowned architect presented the OG Archisculpture within La Prairie’s Pavilion.

So how does this new installation one-up its predecessor?

Besides echoing Botta’s original creation in a new form, the circular, dome-like pavilion takes on a life of its own as a full-scale, wooden structure that invites the viewer to become part of the art by exploring what lies within. Built specifically for the 2019 edition of West Bund Art & Design in Shanghai, the sleek curves of the dome exude an almost organic feel, augmented by a soundscape uniquely designed for the installation that surrounds the participant with a pulsating, muted audio composition to enhance the contemplative quality of the interior.

The sleek vertical wooden slats, aligned in organic, feminine curves, invite the viewer to explore what lies within. Photo: Courtesy

Underpinned by the Platinum Rare Collection, Botta and La Prairie aim to capture the essence of where life begins with the Archisculpture; where its rounded lines represent the purest, most absolute of forms — a place from whence the origin of beauty springs forth.

“In developing La Prairie’s latest innovation – Platinum Rare Cellular Life-Lotion – the Swiss scientists at La Prairie sought to pinpoint the origin of rejuvenation, to isolate and capture the power at the heart of the rejuvenation process,” says Greg Prodromides, Chief Marketing Officer of the La Prairie Group. “It is this life force that inspired us to enter into this very special artistic collaboration with Mario Botta. We were so exhilarated with our first collaboration with Mario that we wanted to offer West Bund visitors the opportunity to experience his interpretation of the origin of life in a new setting that creates a unique context.”

Similarly, Botta sees his work as an all-encompassing platform where life begins once again within its intimate space. To give curious minds a deeper understanding, we take a metaphorical turn through the Archisculpture with the architect himself.

Swiss architect Mario Botta
Swiss architect Mario Botta. Photo: Courtesy

Tell us about your work as an architect. What are your fields of interest?
The art of building! It is an ancient activity that requires constant renewal. To build is a way of giving shape to the history of one’s own time.

How would you define your visual identity?
The author of a work is never completely aware of the creative process underlying his/her making. In my buildings, I tend to use simple, geometric and primary forms because I think that men need built elements that can be points of reference: people inhabit a space when they have the possibility to orient themselves in it.

The first time that you presented your Archisculpture was within La Prairie’s Pavilion at Art Basel in Miami Beach last December. Tell us more about your collaboration with La Prairie.
La Prairie aims to enhance beauty. I have interpreted this commitment in the Archisculpture as a research for new forms of beauty using other instruments. La Prairie and I have worked with different instruments and crossed paths with the same purpose.

What was the idea behind the Archisculpture? Is there a particular reason for its shape?
The idea is to offer a total sensorial experience. The visitor is confronted with a spatiality, materials and scents that are compared to what she or he meets in their everyday life. With this Archisculpture, I want to provoke a physical response to the emotions that beauty can engender.

Mario Botta designing the Archisculpture for La Prairie
Photo: Courtesy

After the Art Basel in Miami Beach Archisculpture, you are now creating a new installation to be unveiled at West Bund Art & Design. What was your inspiration for this piece?
The space at West Bund is much grander. Therefore, the Archisculpture becomes a whole world that can be experienced from the outside with a walk around it, but also by entering it inside where intimate emotions are triggered and La Prairie’s world of beauty is discovered.

You refer to both art installations as to an Archisculpture(s). Why do you consider both of them to be qualified as such? What is the idea behind it?
Archisculpture evolves when architecture and art enter a dialogue, an architectural sculpture that is at once architecture and art. Modern sculptures include key elements of architecture, and architecture can look like sculptural art itself. For me as an architect, art always needs a purpose. In my collaboration with La Prairie, both in Art Basel in Miami Beach and in West Bund Art & Design, it was clear from the beginning that I will not only create a sculpture, but also a space that people can experience and immerse themselves in. Both installations serve a purpose and trigger an intimate array of emotions while experiencing the space. The first Archisculpture was an object, this one is a space.

The shape of West Bund’s Archisculpture is very specific. What was your idea behind it? What does it have in common with the shape of the Archisculpture presented in Art Basel in Miami Beach and how do the two shapes differ?
The idea here was to build a real pavilion in order to offer a space different from the traditional fair stands. To live, move and interact inside a dome. The analogies between the two Archisculpture(s) are the materials. The strength of the experience at West Bund is given by the uniqueness of the emotions that the visitor can experience with the space. The construction of the dome composed by wooden ribs is in absolute contrast with the neutral space all around the Archisculpture.

Using circular forms is an omnipresent reference in your work as an architect. This affinity towards oval shapes is even more expressed in the design of the Archisculpture you created for West Bund Art & Design than the one done for Art Basel in Miami Beach — why is that?
The circular shape is a pure form, one of the most absolute forms that exist, the most essential, the purest and also the most difficult to work with. It is an analogy to the origin of life.

Mario Botta's Archisculpture for La Prairie
Photo: Courtesy

What emotions and experiences do you want to trigger in the audience when entering this Archisculpture?
A space for meditation, a space of silence, a space perhaps which gives the contemplator the opportunity to find himself or herself.

Can you talk about the creative process behind this Archisculpture? Which stage of the process did you enjoy the most? Why?
Every creation begins with an idea, and this mental force is the true heart of each creation.

What does rejuvenation mean to you?
Rejuvenation to me is the art of restoring youthful vigour or appearance, but without losing touch with what is and what has been. It respects the signs of the natural passing of time, of aging and attempts to transform them positively.

Being a Swiss artist how do you relate to the Swiss brand La Prairie? How did you express values of Swissness in this exclusive creation?
I’m always willing to support and encourage Swiss excellence. For La Prairie, I tried to express the most characterising Swiss values: the precision of the execution, the purity of the form, the strength of the material and the warm reception.

Mario Botta's Archisculpture for La Prairie
Photo: Courtesy

The Archisculpture will be unveiled at West Bund Art & Design from November 7 to 10, 2019 as part of La Prairie’s continuing partnership with one of the world’s leading modern and contemporary art fairs.

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