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Sumayya VallyEmerging Masters

Sumayya Vally: “Architecture is an assertion of who we are”

September 21, 2021

Sumayya, which architects have inspired your career?

Personally, I like architects who are using a lens of difference as a creative force to bring about something different into the world. So someone like David Adjaye has been hugely inspirational for me in that regard. Something I think that's less often talked about is his cross discipline, he works also with music, he works with furniture and product design. He's done so many collaborations with other forms of design that I think need to be included in the architectural realm more and more, because from these other ways of being, there are so many different ways of space-making. Zaha Hadid also, I think that her perspective at the time brought about something completely new and different in the world. And that's something that I find deeply inspiring.

It’s also interesting to have these different perspectives when it seems like for a long a time, the architecture world was comprised mostly of older white men.

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, to a degree, the profession is still largely white male. And more than that, as a South African, I think it's not just about bodies that are present and the fact that there are not enough bodies of color and perspectives of difference in the profession… But also that the entire system we're inheriting is still privileging certain ways of practice. It's still very, very embedded. In school, I was often told that there was no room in architecture to talk about what I was working on or the cultural perspectives I was bringing. And that was only 10 years ago!

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Last week’s Interview
Ferdinando Cito FilomarinoEmerging Masters

Ferdinando Cito Filomarino: “It was a different type of mission”

September 19, 2021
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Ferdinando, what qualities are essential in a good filmmaker?

I would say definitely that one is urgency. It's difficult to make a film, it's expensive. Many films are made, and sure, they're recognizable and entertaining — but often you feel like, “Okay, I've seen it before. It's familiar.” Because there's so many movies and series being produced, I find that something important to me as a spectator is: why make that movie? What was the urgency behind this filmmaker to put this whole thing together and make it happen? Usually, it just so happens that when there is something more personal and urgent, the film is better, or more interesting. To me, at least.

By personal, do you mean literally?

It doesn't have to mean literally personal, no. But with a personal affinity to a story, whether that’s the filmmaker, the actors… Those films usually tend to stand the test of time more than films that are made from just a feeling of the time. With the best films, the ones we still watch many decades later... I think there’s a very strong personal vision behind them. That’s probably the most important thing to make something that can last. The ironic thing is that in many cases, the opposite happens! These kinds of films are often not appreciated at first and then years later, people are like, “Oh, that film was so good!” (Laughs) I remember John Carpenter saying that about, I think it was The Fog, and he said, “Where were you 10 years ago?!”