Date Tags treasure

Brand-oriented designers aim for a breakthrough brand look that is distinctive and recognizable. Iraqi-British entrepreneur Zaha Hadid is a woman in a very masculine art: architecture. Hadid grew up in Baghdad and later went to the United Kingdom to study architecture. There she became interested in the Russian constructivism and suprematism art movements. Apparently, geocaching has been identified as the biggest treasure hunt in the world.

She had her small idea: designing abstract buildings that reflect the soaring curves and asymmetry of Russian avant-garde art. In her first twenty years as an architect, though, Hadid was a paper architect. Her statement buildings with soaring curves and sharp angles garnered awards, but only one was actually built because of the complexity of her designs.

After losing one important project, Hadid made a commitment to herself to pitch more forcefully and have an iron will. (The name Hadid means “iron” in Arabic.) Then she got lucky. Technology caught up with her art. In 1990, Hadid started using computer-modeling software that made it easier to model her complex biomorphic building designs.

Later, in 2000, Hadid and other architects, including Frank Gehry, started using software designed for the aircraft industry for their building designs. This changed everything. Hadid could send plans directly to fabricators and contractors without going through engineers first. Big structures could be made piecemeal offsite then assembled at the site. Each piece is stamped with a barcode telling contractors exactly where it goes. Now, at very little extra cost, Hadid could indulge her design vision for asymmetry and the kind of sweeping curves associated with birds in flight.

One of her iconic buildings is the BMW building in Leipzig. Part of her mandate was to create communication between the white-collar workers and the factory. So Hadid crafted a breakthrough design: an open space with office desks in ascending tiers, with the assembly line of cars passing overhead on a conveyor belt. It’s quite a sight. Hadid was also selected to design the Aquatics Center for the 2012 Olympics in London, her first major building in her adopted homeland. Complementing her buildings are the aerodynamic curves of the products she’s designed, from shoes, jewelry, and flatware to lightweight cars. All have an identifiable Hadid branded look.