Photography by Delfino Sisto Legnani


Architect, curator and designer, in 2007 Ippolito Pestellini joined the interdisciplinary studio OMA/AMO, founded by Rem Koolhaas. During our meeting, he told us about how is living in Rotterdam, the importance of adopting a cross-discipline approach in the art field and the new Palermo Atlas project, curated for Manifesta 12.


How did you get passionate about architecture? And contemporary art?

There are several architects and art enthusiasts in my family. I think it played an important role, but both passions grew in parallel and organically. I’m interested in the way a space becomes a lens through which to understand and trace nowadays evolutions, and this aspect is common to architecture, art, journalism, sciences, etc. It’s hard to make real distinctions.

Based on your personal experiences, what challenges must a curator face nowadays?

Since I’m not just a curator, maybe I can provide a vision both from the inside and the outside. I think it’s important to act at the margin of the market, in an interdisciplinary way, without forgetting to discuss urgent matters and trying to constantly create new formats.


What does approaching art as an architect involve?

Our field has changed a lot. Nowadays many architects work on the sidelines with other disciplines. It’s hard to say how an architect approaches art. Maybe there’s a particular focus on the processes rather than the formal results, and on the research in general, the way a work is able to reflect realities that surround us.

You live and work for the Rotterdam based OMA/AMO studio, founded by Rem Koolhaas, since 2007. Tell us about this experience.

OMA has several voices today: nine partners working in different geographic and thematic environments. I joined the studio when I was really young and crossed all its anatomy, from being an intern to becoming a partner. It was a unique and challenging experience, that gave me the chance to make mistakes and reinvent myself many times. Rotterdam is an unusual city, not attractive but very creative. The perfect place to focus on work.


You personally manage the collaboration between AMO and Prada, which includes fashion shows and setups for special events, video directions and exhibitions at Fondazione Prada. How would you describe the relationship between the fashion field and the curatorial one?

They both tell stories and create narratives. Instruments, deadlines and results are different, but the practice is a curious combination of art direction, research and the writing of a script.

Can you tell us about the Palermo Atlas project for the twelfth edition of Manifesta?

Palermo Atlas is a preliminary study on the city of Palermo that laid the basis for the Manifesta 12 curatorial project. The idea was to provide ourselves an instrument able of improving the relationship between a temporary institution and the city. In a certain way, it helped to extract the contents for the Biennale from Palermo itself and to speak about global conditions under a strongly local point of view. Palermo Atlas then became a book that has been published on the occasion of the Biennale, which I curated with three colleagues.


Are you familiar with Mutina?

Not really, actually, but as a designer – which I still am, sometimes – I’ve always admired their work. I would love to visit their Headquarters one day, to know how the company works, how the creative process develops.

Are there Countries that you regularly visit for work? Do you have an anecdote of these trips?

I often travel between London, Berlin, Rotterdam, Milan and Palermo of course. I started to work more in North Africa. An anecdote? I always mislead London airports and lose several flights…