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a life in architecture

sir paul smith

The flamboyant flounces and swirls of Gehry's Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, and Libeskind's Deconstructionist sensationalism, hold obvious attractions for the clothes designer Sir Paul Smith. 'I've seen the models and photographs of Libeskind's amazing Jewish Museum Berlin and I'm planning to go there. Those are the buildings that immediately leapt to mind. I love them, I am really into modern architecture.'

But when asked to nominate his favourite buildings, he decides to overlook these fashionable eyecatchers in favour of two less obvious, traditional models which have influenced so many subsequent works. The first is Bramante's Tempietto in the cloister of S Pietro in Montorio in Rome. 'It's just perfect: a Classical circular temple surrounded by evenly spaced Doric columns. I love the way it's stuffed into its little courtyard on the spot where St Peter is supposed to have been martyred.' For Sir Paul, Bramante's temple has become the perfect example of harmony in design.

Sir Paul works a lot in Florence, and his second choice is 'the actual dome of the Duomo (pictured), designed by Brunelleschi, because it's self-supporting.And every time I am in Florence, I stand in front of the cathedral and look up at the dome and think: 'How the hell does that hold itself up?'' Sir Paul 's verdict on Brunelleschi?

'He was a solver of problems and a bit of a showman.'

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