peter cook interview peter cook interview
sep 28, 2002

peter cook interview

peter cook © designboom



in celebration of its 30th anniversary of archigram designboom met peter cook in london on september 28, 2002



what is the best moment of the day?

about 6:45 in the morning because I wake up very early, and I think my best thoughts, my mind is very clear, I’m an early morning person.



what kind of music do you listen to at the moment?

a lot of 20th century brazilian music.




the new museum of modern art in the city of graz by spacelab – ‘skin and pin’ – a friendly alien. image courtesy peter cook



the new museum of modern art in the city of graz by spacelab – ‘skin and pin’ – a friendly alien. image courtesy peter cook



do you listen to the radio?

a little bit.



what books do you have on your bedside table?

either a biography or mostly architecture or catalogues or text books, information books.



do you read design magazines?

not very much, I don’t find them very stimulating.



cover archigram 4, 1964 image courtesy peter cook



where do you get news from?




do you notice how women are dressing?


do you have any preferences?

yes. I like women who have originality of style and who have a view of themselves.



what kind of clothes do you avoid wearing?




 plug-in city, 1964 peter cook / archigram image courtesy peter cook



do you have any pets?

no, but I have a 12 year old son.



when you were a child, what did you want to be?

architect, since the age 8.



where do you work on your designs and projects?

partly at home and partly in university, sometimes in austria where we have a house.



who would you like to design something for?

I would love to plan a seaside town, because I come from the seaside.



 archigram, the true story told by peter cook… image courtesy peter cook



do you discuss your work with architects and designers?

yes, very much. I’m surrounded by architects — wife, friends.



describe your style, like a good friend of yours would describe it.

lyrical technical mechanical, even slightly gothic.



does form follow function in your environment?

not always (laughs).



the spirit of archigram is optimism, you said. is there anything else?

it also has to do with the application of being inspired or having ideas, you can always have an idea about anything, but it could be something even more, it could be even better, there’s still room for improvement and manipulation and the application of ideas in almost every situation.



 blow-out village, (project for habitable and movable units, creating an inflatable village here needed) peter cook / archigram, 1966 image courtesy peter cook



how do you see your work? is it about the theory or about the actual creation? I’ve always been an optimist and I’ve always been interested in progress. if civilization has existed for thousands of years, it must and can only go forwards. that’s why I can’t stand people who are boring. what we’re involved in is applying imagination. maybe some people don’t have imagination and borrow other peoples. other people have imagination but can’t apply it. the new is not only the product of the past. and another thing I find fascinating is that certain things are in the air at a certain time, and I find this amazing and I’ve never gotten to the bottom of this. ideas are rolling in the air. archigram has been out of style for a long time, but about 8 years ago, archigram started to get more attention again. I think ideas go in and out of fashion. but what amazes people is that we’re still alive and we can come around and talk about it. and this sort of breaks the rules, because it’s as if you’re supposed to be out of the scene. I guess we’re due to go out of fashion again any minute. I am extremely cynical about all of this, and I don’t think it has anything to say with the actual content of the work. we should have been given the medal years back, but the guys in between wouldn’t have been caught dead even giving us a cup of tea. I myself can remember when I wouldn’t have been caught dead using a metal structure. but it is nice to get the medal, and for us it symbolizes that there is a sort of thread of people that are optimistic and creative and imaginative, although they do not all have to do the same kind of thing. for us the medal stands for that.



which of your work has given you the most satisfaction?

I suppose seeing what happens to former students, but so few of them go onto actually doing anything.



is there any architect from the past, you appreciate a lot?




 the fab six: david green, warren chalk, peter cook, mike webb, ron herron,dennis crompton image courtesy peter cook



and those still active, are there any particular ones you appreciate?

I actually appreciate frank gehry.



any advice for the young ?

not to be put off, intimidated by those who just happen to be older.



what are you afraid of regarding the future ?

death, narrow-mindedness and the pious.



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