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If you like Frank Gehry's story, you might also like:
J. Carter Brown,
Dale Chihuly,
Philip Johnson,
Maya Lin,
James Rosenquist
Vincent Scully and
Wayne Thiebaud

Frank Gehry also appears in the video:
Art and Architecture: Freedom of Expression and Form

Related Links:
The Pritzker Prize
Gehry Partners

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Frank Gehry
Frank Gehry
Profile of Frank Gehry Biography of Frank Gehry Interview with Frank Gehry Frank Gehry Photo Gallery

Frank Gehry Interview (page: 4 / 7)

Award-Winning Architect

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  Frank Gehry

Mr. Gehry, that chair that you're sitting in is quite interesting. Is there something that you can tell us about that?

Frank Gehry Interview Photo
Frank Gehry: The nice thing is you can just pick a piece off and throw it away if you don't like it. I had made some chairs earlier, and they were shown at Bloomingdale's. I made them out of paper. They achieved some kind of commercial success and it scared me, so I stopped them, because I wasn't ready to be a successful furniture designer. I still wanted to be an architect. Somehow I thought that was going to end my life, so I stopped them, and I started making chairs that I thought nobody would like, and that's what these are.

What are those made out of? Is that cardboard?

Frank Gehry: It's paper. It's a honeycomb paper that is made as an in-fill between two pieces of metal or wood, as a structural panel.

How do you get your ideas? Where do you find your inspiration when you're designing a building?

Frank Gehry: For me it's a free association, but it grows out of a sense of responsibility, sense of values, human values. The importance of relating to the community, and all of those things...and the client's budget, their pocketbook, the client's wishes. But even within that there's a...

There is a range of creativity possible, and I think it behooves us to explore that envelope and push at it. It comes out of an intuition, or a learned intuition, I guess. You study a long time 'til you can do it. But it's from looking around you, it's from understanding what's happening in the culture, what's happening in the world. It's a really big picture. Because there are no real rules. If you look at the world around us, and you think of all these adult and intelligent people who have gathered together over the years to create the biggest mess. It always looks like that, whatever period. It looked like that when I was a kid, it looks like that now. And yet, somehow we muddle forward and make things. So out of that comes inspiration, believe it or not, and leads to ideas. For instance, I've been interested in the sense of movement in architecture. Well, who cares whether a building looks like it's moving or not? Maybe they shouldn't, but that's something that interested me. Maybe it comes from the fast society, the fast world around me, that I'm trying to make some kind of connection to. So I think you've just got to keep your eyes open, keep your ears open and understand what's going on. And then play with it, and move with it, and make your expression grow from that.

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Your designs are considered unconventional and innovative. How did you find these forms?

Frank Gehry: Slowly, by doing the things I've already said, not the least of which is studying history. You develop a base of information. You look at what's around you, you take things in, you absorb. I think the most important thing is the people, finally, it's a human thing. It's how you interact with people and how you interpret their wishes and yearnings. It's intuitive. It's very difficult to explain why you do things, why you curve something. It becomes an evolution of thought and ideas. I feel like the picture of the cat pushing the ball of string. You just keep pushing it and it moves around. Then it falls off the table and creates this beautiful line in space.

I think creativity... I guess (Henry) James wrote that it was like poking around in a deep well with a big stick, and every once in a while you would pull this stick out and something was there. These ideas are not easy to describe. They're easy to rationalize after the fact, like the sense of movement is easy to rationalize, or certain materials, or certain constructs, and shapes, and forms. But basically, I am trying to make buildings and spaces that will inspire people, that will move people, that will get a reaction. Not just to get a reaction, but to get a positive reaction, hopefully, a place that they like to be in. My greatest thrill is to still be friends with the clients and people that helped me make these buildings.

Do you think that society curtails individual imagination? And if so, why?

Frank Gehry: I don't think it does. I think it's wide open. You curtail your own imagination if you do it. Certainly there are constraints: budgets and politics and sites. Gravity is a constraint, finally. But those are, to any artist, manageable.

Every artist confronts a series of issues that are constraints. Those constraints are then turned by the artist into a positive force, to make something, make their mud pie, whatever it is. I think we learn to do that. I had a house recently with no constraints, and I had a horrible time with it. I had to look in the mirror a lot. Who am I? Why am I doing this? What is this all about? What is the social relevance of this? There was none. Finally, the owner gave me a quote from Oscar Wilde. I can't remember the quote, but it was in essence that everything didn't have to be relevant, that you could make a folly, and that there was some value in that. I lived on that for a while and made the so-called folly, which he's not going to build anyway. I think we turn those constraints into action.

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This page last revised on Sep 21, 2010 20:58 EDT
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