The studio’s second podcast: interview with Iwan Baan
The Second Studio (formerly The Midnight Charette) is an explicit podcast about design, architecture and the everyday. Hosted by architects David Lee and Marina Bourderonnet, it features different creative professionals in unscripted conversations that allow for thoughtful shots and personal discussions.
A variety of topics are covered with honesty and humour: some episodes are interviews, while others are advice for other designers, reviews of buildings and other projects, or informal explorations of daily life and design. The second workshop is also available on itunes, Spotifyand Youtube.
This week David and Marina are joined by photographer Iwan Baan to discuss his career, how he became a most sought after architectural photographer, working with Rem Koolhaas, his process, his style of architectural photography, documenting structures during construction and after completion, vernacular architecture, and more.
Highlights and timestamps
Iwan Baan’s first camera and his first passion for photography. (00:00)
The beginning of Iwan’s career as an architectural photographer with Rem Koolhaas. (12:17)
At that time, I was experimenting with panoramic photography, like 360 degrees and interactive ways of using photography. […] I thought this might be an interesting way to use this for the [OMA exhibition on the history of Europe]. […] Many OMA projects were ending at this time, such as the Seattle Public Library, the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, the Casa da Música, the Berlin Embassy. […] And Rem basically said, “Okay, you go over there and shoot those places.” And I said, “Sure.” That’s kind of how it started. Since that day, it has never stopped. Suddenly it became all the architects around me. (14:22)
Iwan’s “documentary” style of architectural photography. Photograph construction workers and the construction process. (18:11)
There must be a specific reason for me to travel halfway around the world to a place…to describe a place and show how people live there, what they do there, what makes a place like this- this is different from our environment here. I think all these values have always interested me, and suddenly the architects intervened, but [those values] were always my main reason. If I fly to China for a Rem building, I didn’t know much about its architecture at the time, but it was that background and that story that fascinated me… and the architecture almost becomes like a way to frame that story, to anchor that story around a specific topic, but at the same time try to steer away from that topic all the time. (23:12)
The Iwan process. (29:12)
I try to enter these places as a sort of blank canvas. I step into a totally different world almost every week, a totally different community, a totally different culture. From the first moment you come there, you are super open to all those differences and what makes this place unique. I feel like it’s always a big inspiration to me, so I try not to plan ahead too much and be more surprised by everything in there and what takes place there. Usually there is always something. (29:30)
The most published photograph of Iwan. (36:12)
Photographing the architecture when it is completed and appropriating it in different ways. (43:52)
The stakes of Iwan’s work, the editing work, the minimization of post-production, the projects in progress. (57:50)
Document structures and places before they disappear due to modernism and economic, governmental and environmental changes. (01:21:40)
Training other photographers. Styles of photography. Next projects. (01:30:55)