Zaha Hadid talks personal taste: Part Two

The Pritzker Prize-winning architect rounds up her list of likes with Madonna, Russian tchotchkes and New York’s Upper East Side

Zaha Hadid at her gallery
Zaha Hadid at her gallery | Image: Sebastian Boettcher

My style icon is Madonna. She has always experimented with fashion: I attended the Met Gala two years ago when the theme was punk and, while many missed the mark, Madonna really got it. She popularised Jean Paul Gaultier’s bustiers and has never been afraid to try creative new things. The same can be said of Grace Jones – she is always pushing boundaries.

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Spring, Skye Gyngell’s new restaurant in Somerset House. Several friends and I enjoyed a lunch of shared starters -– calamari, scallops with polenta, and carpaccio of beef – veal chops with artichokes and an excellent panna cotta with blood-orange jelly. That day was particularly bright and the light from the river streamed through the very stylish room. Somerset House, New Wing Lancaster Pl, London WC2 (020-3011 0115;

Madonna at the Costume Institute Gala, New York, 2013
Madonna at the Costume Institute Gala, New York, 2013 | Image: WireImage

The last items of clothing I added to my wardrobe were two Junya Watanabe patchwork leather and organza jackets. I bought one at Dover Street Market in New York and liked it so much I got a similar one at Selfridges. Dover Street Market, 160 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 11216 (+1646-837 7750; £1,835; Selfridges, 400 Oxford St, London W1 (0800-123 400;

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Mexico City. It is an incredibly dense, vast place and the architecture is incredible. Real highlights include Luis Barragán’s brutalist buildings from the 1960s; the street murals by José Clemente Orozco; and amazing churches by Félix Candela, whose pioneering thin concrete shells look almost lightweight.


The best gift I’ve given recently was a collection of 50 ties I had handmade for a friend’s 50th birthday. The designs are inspired by my drawings for The Great Utopia show at the Guggenheim Museum and are made of all kinds of different materials: silk, paper, transparent tissue. The gift is an inside joke: this friend and I once met for a drink at a dressy place and he didn’t have a tie so they loaned him a very short one. I thought he could use a few more, so I made him 50.

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is New York. I might have an apartment overlooking the High Line and Hudson River; the light in this area at dusk – when the setting sun hits the buildings – is particularly beautiful. I especially like the buzz and sense of street life downtown, where I’d single out the Japanese food at Morimoto in Chelsea and the minimalist aesthetic of The Mercer hotel in Soho, which I call home whenever I come to visit. I also love the culture in New York: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim and the sculpture garden at the Museum of Modern Art are particular favourites. I have many friends in Manhattan, which would make living there easy. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Ave (+1212-423 3500; The Mercer, 147 Mercer St (+1212-966 6060; Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave (+1212-535 7710; Morimoto, 88 Tenth Ave (+1212-989 8883; Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd St (+1212-708 9400;

Spring restaurant at Somerset House, London
Spring restaurant at Somerset House, London | Image: Courtesy of Spring

An indulgence I would never forgo is weekly manicures and pedicures – either at home or at the Cowshed Spa at Shoreditch House. I find them relaxing and I love nail polish – I have every colour, from reds, blues and greens to gold and silver, and like to change my nails according to my mood. 1 Ebor St, London E1 (020-7749 4531;

The sites that inspire me are the city of Baghdad, with its position on the Tigris River, and Moscow’s Red Square at night. Each has a beauty and timelessness that makes it memorable.

Hadid’s Junya Watanabe faux leather and organza jacket, £1,835, from Selfridges
Hadid’s Junya Watanabe faux leather and organza jacket, £1,835, from Selfridges | Image:

The books on my bedside table are more likely to be magazines. I am overly tidy so there are no large stacks of books in my bedroom, but I always have the Japanese, Chinese and Italian editions of Vogue, Architects’ Journal and back issues of Building Design.

The best souvenirs I’ve brought home are various Russian tchotchkes from a trinket shop in Moscow – little toys and figurines inspired by the Sputnik satellite; I love anything to do with space.

The Cowshed Rooms at Shoreditch House, London
The Cowshed Rooms at Shoreditch House, London

My favourite room in my house is my sitting room. It is a stark, white space punctuated by two bright green sinuous couches I designed for Cassina in 2013 and the asymmetrical Aqua table I designed for Established & Sons in 2005. It is so glossy the surface almost looks liquid.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose New York’s Upper East Side. I like Barneys for its extensive shoe department and leather bags by Mark Cross, and Bergdorf Goodman for its selection of designers, Edie Parker’s gold acrylic clutches and its jewellery department, which is great for discovering emerging labels. Prada is also always a favourite and my go-to place for one-off special pieces for events. Barneys, 660 Madison Ave (+1212-826 8900; Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Ave (+1212-753 7300; Prada, 724 Fifth Ave (+1212-664 0010;


If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be either a musician or a politician. I love music and like to sing, but I also find politics exciting and important. My father was a politician and his commitment, his ability to put the needs of others first and his foresight were inspirational to me.

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