Gianni Pettena/James Wines

GP – James and I met at New York University during a lecture I had there, in 1971. I had been invited by Howard Conant, Director of the Art Department of the NYU to give a course on Environmental Design. And just guess who was teaching there? James Wines! At the end of the lecture we introduced ourselves and this started a friendship, which has lasted to the present day.

JW – Yes, I remember the lecture very well, because it reflected so many ideas I believed in myself: it was a fortuitous moment, where like-thinking people came together. We both shared a critical view of the architecture scene. The fact that art and architecture were so completely separated was a condition of hermetic design thinking, where specialization kept integrative ideas from existing. Most architects, at that time, were (and still are to this day) completely absorbed in form making, shape making, plus the usual kind of formalist, functionalist design vocabulary. Coming from an opposite perspective, Gianni and I were primarily inventing new levels of content, where architecture could embrace a broad range of idea sources. I was in touch with environmental artists of that time and Gianni was as well. The whole initiative for creating hybrid fusions of the arts was just beginning during the late 1960s and early 70s in the Soho section of New York City, as well as Milan, Florence, Paris and Vienna…

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