Speed Date / MICHAL JANÁK, architect, atelier P-L-U-R-A-L
Where are you from?
Petržalka – Dvory (in Bratislava).
Where did you study?
In Bratislava and Ghent.
Who was your best teacher?
Who are/were your parents?
Geologists. My father still an active one.
What don’t you enjoy?
Travelling. A combination of panic of being late or forgetting something and general impatience.
What was the last thing you did you really enjoyed?
I learned how to drive. It was necessary to focus on a particular activity, which was calming and exciting at the same time. Also, it reminded me of a general joy coming from gaining a new skill.
What do you listen to?
I pick stuff recommended by different sources I trust. I can’t say I would listen to something on a consistent or long-term basis. But I have developed certain rituals with specific activities. For example, Nine Inch Nails when I develop some design for contests.
Your favourite film or cartoon?
I consume films rather as goods. That means I am not able to see them more times (only when I forget about them). Besides, films have lost their ability of conveying collective emotions. What people mostly talk about today are series, miniseries. Show Me a Hero got stuck in my memory over the last years.
Who do you respect as an authority in and out of your field?
I wouldn’t point to any practicing architect as an authority. It would rather be a person who critically reflects on the production of space or allows for such a reflection. It’s interesting to regularly follow people like Koolhaas, Mouffe, Eisenman, Aureli, Bourriaud, Jacob, Bratton, Moravčíková, Tamburelli, Self, Moravanszky, DeClerck, HUO, Topolčanská, Geers, Gallanti, Ruby, Fabrizi & Lucarelli, Zenghelis, Munteanu, (…)
What thing did you last buy?
I usually buy utility things. I should buy Something. But I feel I have everything I need and I still don’t have money for upgrade.
Do you buy professional literature? What were the latest books?
The latest were Making Heimat. Germany, Arrival Country (Atlas of Refugee Housing). The Artist as Curator: An Anthology and The Art of Inequality: Architecture, Housing, and Real estate.
Do you vote?
If it’s possible, yes.
Who throws best parties?
Not any more.
Your favourite dome?
Half-dome. Cortile del Belvedere in Vatican by Donato Bramante.
A party dress. Made by…?
I guess I’ve never been to such a party where you would need to have something made by someone. Jil Sander?
Hero from the past?
Marx was probably my heroes of all heroes. Theirs. But it’s a common denominator.
Do you have any stereotypes when you work? How do they show?
I am not afraid of stereotypes in the work itself, on the contrary, we consciously work with space types. Their interpretation can, however, slide towards automatization of techniques, while naivety disappears.
What’s on your desktop?
I only see my desktop at booting, but for those moments, I have a script that hides its content.
That’s demanding. If I have to narrow the category down to an individual dwelling, it would be Maison à Bordeaux by OMA, as it articulates the spirit of the end of history of the 1990s. “What can be said when everything has been said?” We can speculate and interpret within the paranoid-critical method. A house is thus only a sort of a perverted encyclopaedia of the spatial ambitions of the 20th century. It is composed of a plethora of antagonistic themes that one can uncover. Yet bold formal gestures hold this complexity together. The relationship between a gesture and an element is always negotiated and precise. The project reminds me of a period when housing was still a vital subject matter of architecture which you could approach in a naive manner, too.
Best exhibitions, work of art?
That‘s impossible to determine. A specific circumstance is behind my selective memory of various artworks and exhibitions, but they don’t have to be the best ones. The essential artworks and exhibitions are probably those who are able to canonise a specific interpretation of reality, overcoming themselves in the sense of emotional experience, and that’s why it’s important to come back to them. Honestly, I don’t know if I have such an age distance to be able to evaluate what I saw and if it was great…
What do you respect both from the local and foreign design scene? And why?
If there is any pattern in it, I guess, I respect production that is naive, insistent, self-confident and well-argumented.
Ethics or money?
Even an unethical person is corruptible towards the good.
An extraordinary book?
Aldo Rossi: The Architecture of the City
Optimist, pessimist, nihilist?
It’s like with the Schrödinger’s cat.
Do you have any hobby?
Individually or in a collective?
In a collective.
Slovakia as the Promised Land?
No, because it doesn’t want those for whom it could be.