We present to your attention an interview with the founders of The Fabric Of Bell collaboration. Paola Zamudio of npz studio+ wanted to elevate the arts to new heights in the celebration of the iconic Bell Works to honor the building’s rich history of innovation, so as the Lead Designer and Creative Director of Bell Works, she brought on a friend and New York-based artist, Sebastien Courty for an unforgettable project.
Could you please tell us more about The Fabric of Bell? How did it come about?
“The Fabric of Bell” is a captivating collection of eight handwoven panels that beautifully merge the history of Bell Labs with the remarkable metro burb that Bell Works has become. It is a celebration of the labs’ extraordinary accomplishments and the iconic Eero Saarinen architecture that graces the space. Guided by my commitment to sustainability, I meticulously designed this art installation by repurposing old cables and other components, breathing new life into forgotten materials. The project, commissioned by Ralph Zucker and the vision of Paola Zamudio, serves as a tribute to the invaluable contributions of Jozef and Jonathan Straus, who played a pivotal role in transforming Bell Labs into the vibrant Bell Works we see today. The essence of this endeavor was to seamlessly blend technological marvels with the graceful contours of Eero Saarinen’s design, infused with a touch of Bauhaus brilliance. The resulting totems stand as a powerful homage to the pursuit of knowledge and a testament to the transformative power of art.
Paola, why did you select Sebastien specifically?
I selected Sebastien because I really admire his work, craftsmanship, and attention to detail. I always wanted to pay homage to the history of Bell Labs and all the innovations that were created in this iconic space and we started to share ideas with Sebastien. My design philosophy for Bell Works is called retro-futurism, which looks into the past but takes it into the future. I researched the Bauhaus art movement and learned that the artists were pioneers in weaving, artists like Annie Albers made a mark by creating a language through weaving. Therefore, I wanted to implement this art at Bell Works. I knew that Sebastien would be the perfect artist to make this happen with the cables, the weaving and the colors. He definitely connected the dots!
How was it working together? What did you enjoy?
Working together was a fantastic journey that unfolded effortlessly with laughter and positivity. This project was born out of a serendipitous lunch between two friends, further fuelled by a trip to Dubai for the launch of my collection “Totem, a Wall’s Jewelry”, which ultimately sparked the creation of “The Fabric of Bell”. Paola and Sebastien share a common vision and most importantly a passion for meaningful creations. Working alongside was a fusion of minds and hearts. A partnership celebrated in a harmonious interplay of creativity and shared purpose.
Sebastien, what were you inspired by?
My inspiration for “The Fabric of Bell” came from the rich history of Bell Labs and the modernity of Bell Works. I was captivated by the labs’ technological advancements and the elegance of Eero Saarinen’s design. Additionally, I drew inspiration from the principles of the Bauhaus movement (suggested by Paola), which emphasizes the fusion of craftsmanship and technology. However, it was the cables generously provided for the creation of the Totems that truly ignited my fascination. Their diverse array of colors, textures, and varying thicknesses was nothing short of mesmerizing. Each cable became a source of inspiration, a vibrant thread waiting to be woven into the fabric of my artistic expression. The sheer range of possibilities they offered truly sparked my imagination.
What makes this installation unique and special?
Reflect upon the sheer magnitude of the secret conversations and groundbreaking discoveries that unfolded within the very fibers of those internet and communicative cables. Now, those very cables have transformed into the “Fabric of Bell”, carrying with them a profound sense of relevance and resonance. It is a testament to the interconnectedness of it all, how the threads that once facilitated communication now weave together as a powerful symbol. This realization evokes a deep sense of sensitivity and appropriateness, highlighting the poetic harmony that exists in repurposing these cables into a meaningful work of art. “The Fabric of Bell” stands as a poignant reminder of the hidden stories and transformative moments that coursed through those very veins of communication, forever imprinted within its intricate tapestry. Also, the fact that it pays homage to the Bauhaus art movement has influenced Paola’s work throughout her career, especially at her project: Bell Works.
Any interesting anecdotes?
I think the process of scavenging the cables and gathering and selecting the right materials for the pieces was fun, we felt like kids playing with raw materials but with a great purpose, the whole process was great!
What did it feel like while working with the cables?
Working with cables was a truly captivating experience. Each cable held its own unique story and purpose, and it was deeply meaningful to breathe new life into them, transforming them into visually captivating creations. Weaving these cables together required meticulous precision and unwavering patience, but the satisfaction that accompanied the final result was indescribable—a textile art installation that seamlessly intertwined diverse histories and celebrated boundless creativity.
Tell us about your future plans. Can viewers expect more of your joint projects?
Looking ahead, I have exciting plans for the future. I am thrilled to continue collaborating with Paola and her team on upcoming projects. Our shared passion for sustainability and artistic expression ensures that viewers can expect more thought-provoking and visually stunning artworks here in the States but also internationally. Together, we aim to create environments that inspire conversation and leave a lasting impact.