“Pradasphere is a natural history of Prada,” explains Michael Rock, curator for Pradasphere. “It’s an opportunity to step back and take a top-down view of all of the diverse activities of Prada in one place and try to see how they relate.” Inspired by Taxonomy (the classification of objects) there is a scientific nod to the retrospective exhibition, which seems fitting given Miuccia Prada’s degree in political science. Dioramas and timelines are methodically laid out across the top floor of Harrods: combs, papers, accessories and models are surgically logged in glass vitrines by genre, decade and type, reminiscent of a natural history museum, while an evolution wall with nearly 400 images and videos flickers alongside.
Founding partner and creative designer for New York-based design firm 2x4, Rock was responsible for the design of last year's official Prada book, which traced three decades of the brand. AnOther spoke to him about the inspirations for the exhibition and the impact of the Prada brand on global fashion and design.
What inspired Pradasphere?
We had been thinking about a 'scientific' approach to display Prada. Could we combine the sensuous and the rigorous? We were also inspired by the context. The department store is all about taxonomy: everything has its place. And a department store the size of Harrods is compelling as it functions almost as a museum of shopping. We conceived of Pradasphere then as a museum within a museum.
"Miuccia Prada very delicately toggles between pleasure and intelligence" — Michael Rock
How would you describe the affect that Miuccia Prada has had on fashion?
The thing I find most remarkable about Prada's work is the way she very delicately toggles between pleasure and intelligence. I often compare her to Hitchcock: an artist that makes massively entertaining work that also manages to be formally and critically compelling. The work is undeniably sensual but still engages critical cultural issues inherent in working with the (female) body in such a direct way. You get a sense she is involved in an on-going aesthetic investigation and the medium of that investigation is fashion. I think that's what makes her work so interesting and fun to write about because it's not based in market research, it's based in ideas.
Pradasphere at Harrods is open until May 29.
Text by Mhairi Graham