Seeking to explore power as crucial factor in the design of the built environment, we will look at energy systems and related objects, from sites of generation to spaces of consumption, from distribution networks to control rooms.

Tutors: Filip Geerts and Sanne van den Breemer
Director of Studies: Salomon Frausto

Contributors: Santiago Ardila, Juan Benavides, Daniella Camarena, Stef Dingen, Marco Fusco, Jack Garay Arauzo, Theodora Gelali, Shaiwanti Gupta, Hao Hsu, Marianthi Papangelopoulou, Felipe Quintero, Gent Shehu, Siyuan Wang

La Fondation (The Foundation)

Public opinion, Fashion, Production, Consumption, Neighbourhood, Ginza, Fashion, Economy, Culture, Lifestyle, Drawing

Titans of industry have long made contributions to charitable causes. Modern philanthropy is a Gilded Age invention, meant to battle the increasing socio-economic inequality following industrialization. Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie was the first to give away most of hist vast fortune to endow – among others – universities, concert venues, and almost three thousand libraries. In his Gospel of Wealth he preached “he who dies rich, dies disgraced.” His actions were followed by oil tycoon John D Rockefeller, car manufacturer Henry Ford, and John Paul Getty III, another oil tycoon. Each of them donated large sums of moneys towards cultural, educational, and medical institutions. Was altruism truly at the base of their benevolence though? According to the author of American Foundations, Mark Dowie, all of them had similar motivations: “guilt, narcissism, paternalism, the wish for immortality…and a love of humanity."1
    Nowadays, philanthropy is no longer solely linked to the wealthiest of wealthy individuals, but it has also become an embedded part within corporate structures. This is also true for luxury fashion companies, whose “fondations” have followed each other in rapid succession. The Fondation Chanel, the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, and the Fondation Cartier are each committed to aiding specific causes. The biggest of all, is the Fondation Louis Vuitton. Its glossy, Frank-Gehry-designed building in Paris, is an enormous monument to the company’s supposedly philanthropic efforts. In Tokyo too, the fondation has an outpost, conveniently situated on the top floor of its Omotesando store. In a similar fashion Hermès also has a dedicated exhibition space on the top floor of the Ginza flagship store designed by Renzo Piano. Strategically located within the shops of the second largest luxury market in the world, les fondations in Tokyo strongly suggest that they are poorly concealed efforts to bolster conspicuous consumption. These fashionable institutions are not essentially different from the wealth of PR-driven museums of – among others – energy companies in Japan.

1. The Week Staff, “A Brief History of Billionaire Philanthropists and the People Who Hate Them,” Accessed March 8, 2020.

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