Prada and Koolhaas in Korea

As Rem Koolhaas prepared to unveil his highly anticipated "Prada Transformer" in Seoul on Thursday, Cincinnati Art Museum director Aaron Betsky, architecture's ultimate insider, got an advance peek of the starchitect's latest showcase for Prada...


You can spot the fashionistas in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt Seoul, in the lounge, in the elevator, but definitely not at the pool. Once we get going, however, we are strictly segregated: Italians, Anglo-Americans, French and Chinese all have their own program. I am the only American journalist; three are from the UK, six or so each from Italy and France, and a lot come from China and other parts of Asia. The Grand Hyatt is your standard businessman’s hotel though Rem and Miuccia are staying at the really fancy hotel, the Shilla.

Behind it, an array of shipping containers on a wood platform provide the backdrop and the services.

For now, the floor is a hexagon, covered with black-painted plywood. It provides the scene for the fifth installment of curator Kayo Ota’s exhibition of Prada’s skirts, “Waist Down.”

The whole Transformer is covered with a membrane that stretches over all these permutations and structures to give it a strange unity. For all the geometries at work, what you are left with is unformed, deformed, distorted and distended space. A spatial equivalent of the fashion, perhaps, but more than that, a modernist answer to the pavilions used for tent revivals, circuses or other shows.

Later, I spoke to Rem briefly and asked him to say something quotable. He smirked. Spent more time talking to his daughter, Charlie, a photographer who lives in China. At least I found out that Pa approves of her new husband.

See our profile of Aaron Betsky from September 2008.