Camilo Restrepo + Systems

A few weeks ago I attended to the Colombian architect Camilo Restrepo (I encourage all to visit his website- and I was amazed by how many different issues were taken in consideration when he designed his buildings. I was particularly struck by the sentence he said when describing an fashion show installation he made for the city of Medellin, it was roughly: « anything that you do will affect someone somewhere else ». As soon as heard this my mind clicked and I immediately thought about my systems class. « It makes perfect sense! », I thought. And I imagine Bill Sherman, who was sitting behind me on the second row of the lecture hall thought the same.

I want to talk about a little bit about this fashion installation. In my mind it is the embodiment of what he said. It is a physical metaphor for « what you do will affect someone somewhere else. » The installation is basically a wooden structure with some kind of lever on top. On each end of the lever he put water bottles. He attached a description of the Fashion Store new collection to the water bottles, so a person visiting the installation would pick a bottle, drink water and get to know the latest Colombian fashion trends. The interesting thing is that if someone picked all the bottles from just one end of the lever, the system would loose its equilibrium. Consequently the other end of the lever would raise. This way a person would not be able to pick bottles from that side anymore. This a simple but smart way to think about systems. The little things you do could lead to catastrophic consequences in the future.

The other interesting thing about his lecture was his other installation he made. It was basically an artificial tree designed to be placed in a public park in Medellin, an educational installation meant to tell the viewers the level of purity of the air. The really interesting thing was his process of creation and the amazing diagrams he made to show the different variables of the project. Unfortunately I could not find the diagrams for this specific project; I wish the architecture school could somehow let the students have access to all presentations. In any case, Restrepo is not only a great diagram maker, but also a wonderful architect. The buildings of his office are changing the face of Colombian cities. 


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