More than just a roof over our heads, the architecture we surround ourselves with affects society, culture, and style in many ways.

BY ALEX BRONSON
Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku

Influence is one of 2016’s buzziest words. We use it in reference to the digital reach available to anyone with a smartphone or laptop—a newfound power to connect and impact any number of people around the world. But really, it’s not so newfound. For centuries, long before photo-heavy Instagram feeds and 140-character witticisms, artists and scholars were leaving indelible marks on our culture through their work. Scenes set on canvases provoked emotion and thought for art lovers; books and songs defined the vocabularies and ideals of nations; and buildings and structures, whether erected in the name of religion, shelter, business, or any other purpose, defined entire cultures. All pre-technology boom. These types of influencers have always been, well, influencing.

And though many architects today do hold this type of digital influence—Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind has over 55,000 Instagram followers and a Twitter fan base of nearly 20,000, and the Danish Bjarke Ingels holds an Instagram audience of over 188,000—their impact is greater and longer-lasting than that of any social media account. Historically, architects have held great influence—business, sport, religion, and everything in between is often anchored by an important building somewhere in the world. And this influence extends into the style world, too, with the composition of structures inspiring designers of clothes and jewellery to create pieces that reflect their messages, and vice versa.

The tie between fashion and architecture goes all the way back to man’s quest for shelter and protection. Together, the garments we wore and the shelters we gathered under shielded our bodies from the elements. But the connection didn’t remain so elemental—it grew, as most human endeavours do, to represent something much more.

Architecture’s influence on fashion can be seen throughout history: the ancient Egyptians and their heavy, voluminous jewellery mirroring their massive, revered pyramids; the Vatican’s peaks and domes flowing like the Pope’s robes; Hitler’s imposing buildings of the Third Reich standing rigidly alongside his strikingly outfitted Nazi army.

In the ’60s, the connection between fashion and architecture was arguably as closely tied as it has ever been. It was the coming of age, with self-expression and individuality more prominent than ever. Fashion makers like Yves Saint Laurent were designing mod garments that reflected the famous art and structures of the ’60s like the Edward T. Foley Centre in Los Angeles and the Sydney Opera House in Australia. And jewellers like John Donald (a boundary-pushing Brit, and one of the most impactful craftspeople of the time), was creating brooches and necklaces—often for British royalty, like Princess Margaret—that seamlessly reflected the free-spirited outlook of the decade.

Storied jewellery house Swarovski has been working with the world’s foremost architects to help co-evolve both art forms for decades. Today, they continue the tradition, collaborating with the biggest names in décor and design, including Ron Arad, Daniel Libeskind, and the late Zaha Hadid.

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“Swarovski started working within the design and architecture fields from its early stages,” says Nathalie Colin, creative director at Swarovski. “Architecture is part of my inspiration every season. Be it vertical gardens, sleek lines or Art Deco references, I love this sense of pushing boundaries to constantly surprise, delight, and be daring.”

Hadid, the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize and an inspiration for female professionals around the world, was among a number of iconic architects to collaborate with Swarovski for its first foray into homeware (Atelier Swarovski) last April. Hadid’s contribution: a stunning centrepiece that marries crystal and metal in a jutting, multi-column representation of the natural process of crystallization. Hadid’s defining styles—the flowing expression of expansion and organic curves that make her work so unusual—can clearly be seen in the piece.

“Like jewellery, fashion, art or music, architecture reflects the now; it always says something about the context and society,” says Colin.

Another notable architect currently speaking to “the now” is Frank Gehry, whose brilliance is permanently on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto and the Issey Miyake flagship store in Manhattan, among countless other locations around the globe. Gehry collaborated with Tiffany & Co. to transform his large-scale structures into wearable art in the mid-aughts. The silver, open torque bangle he designed for the esteemed jewellery house, with its bending and twisting lines that wrap around the wrist, mimics the façade of Gehry’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Nevada—the twists and turns of metal punctuate the minute bracelet and the mammoth building in similar ways.

Really, it doesn’t matter the size. The people who design our spaces and structures have the ability to directly affect our lives. It’s these partnerships between shelter and style that will continue to evolve with the trends of humanity. And the next great building will undoubtedly spark inspiration for the next great fashion trend. Now, that’s influence.

Tiffany & Co.