STARH and Soliform formed a successful partnership during the work on their first joint project – building B73, the façade of which was realized with Corian Solid Surface. Nowadays, solid surface materials are becoming more popular and available, both worldwide and in Bulgaria. The technologies in the production of finished products with solid surface materials now allow their implementation to be performed both without restrictions in the complexity of the design, in a short time frame and with optimized costs. In this interview we will talk to arch. Stanislavov about design and application of solid surface materials in it.
Soliform: The environment we experience in all aspects of our lives is a manifestation of design, and the process of “design” as morphology is the same thing in all its applications. How is this process structured in studio STARH and what are its boundaries beyond architecture?
Arch. Stanislavov: For us, at STARH, design is above all a creative process of searching for the truth for a specific task, whether it is a building or an element of it. This process, fortunately, cannot be structured or systematized, and this brings it closer to art, which architecture is for us. We believe that the process is successful if we create a design that sells, but also causes a positive visual and emotional impact.
What works for us as a methodology is the constant search for and testing of our ideas until we are absolutely convinced of their veracity. We try not to fall in love with them while creating them so that we can be objective in their impact and adequacy. Team critical thinking and team contribution to each project make the process exciting for us with each new task.
Soliform: Assuming that the basic criteria in design are function and aesthetics, what other criteria do you think are relevant today?
Arch. Stanislavov: If I have to be honest, these basic criteria are missing in most of the Bulgarian architecture. Today, more than ever, we must be able to defend our ideas and preserve the authenticity of our projects until their final realization. We need to go beyond good intentions, beyond the known, and walk the path to the end. For me, in addition to the comfort, beauty and quality of the materials used in a building, it is especially important the way it excites people and how it touches them.
Furthermore, the current criteria for the time in which we live are increasing with each passing decade. The accumulated knowledge of architects and builders from the generations before us and our extremely dynamic life today make our task especially difficult. The need for visual, thermal, sound and spatial comfort of the modern man, however, does not displace the basic question of balance. This design must also be accessible and adaptable.
Soliform: Some of the pioneers of modernism in architecture are well known, creating products with a very clearly recognizable, timeless design. An example of this is Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair. Do Bulgarian architects have the self-confidence and experience to create their own products that will naturally spill over the architectural concept to the smallest details?
Arch. Stanislavov: In recent years, more and more studios work in the field of architecture and interior design, as well as furniture and product design. These are rather exceptions, as our learning process in an academic environment is more technical and less creative. People like Miss and Carlo Scarpa, another modernist known for his jewelry performances, have a kind of “craft” experience and training. They are close to the material and detail on a small scale. For us, the line we follow in our training and practice excludes in-depth experience in fine, applied, visual and contemporary arts, both in theory and in practice. And to produce an iconic design requires many years of multi-layered overlays in traditions, in the cultural context of generations of artists before that.
Soliform: The products of our reality are becoming more complex and digital, both in the process of their creation and in their function afterwards. At the same time, the popular understanding is that only architects and people with construction education work in an architecture studio. Do you think that the modern studio for architecture and design should have an interdisciplinary character and work with people from other fields to cope with today’s challenges?
Arch. Stanislavov: We find the idea of the universal model of architecture in the works of Vitruvius. The interdisciplinary nature of the architectural profession is even more relevant today. The architect must be an artist, mathematician, psychologist, philosopher, master the art of rhetoric, without having to be an expert in any field. As Prof. Dr. Arch. Georgy Stanishev: “It is something like a complex system of connected vessels, connecting various, often completely different areas of knowledge and skills.”
Soliform: Your architectural handwriting is noticeable and easily recognizable. Would you develop the idea of a product / product line that would continue your vision and be part of the environment you create as an architect? What do you think about such a product from Solid Surface material?
Arch. Stanislavov: As long as we find a market realization of the product, I’ll do it with pleasure. You know that we love working with innovative and high-tech materials. In just a few years we have successfully realized three buildings with Solid Surface materials: Varna Wave (2018) – Corian, BGA Corporate Building (2019) – Kreon, B73 (2021) – Corian. I am confident that together we can go from generating the idea through researching the design, prototyping and production of such a product from Solid Surface material. At the moment on our market the examples of Bulgarian product design are good, but still only a few. The niche is evolving, therefore such a partnership could be particularly successful.
B73 | Architecture: STARH | Photo: Diyan Stanchev