2019 ICON: Elena Manferdini

Elena Manferdini via designboom

Elena Manferdini via designboom

An iconic woman involved in what matters the most.

Elena Manferdini is the recipient of the 2019 ICON Award. With a body of work that spans art, architecture, exhibitions, and industrial design, her eponymous atelier has created work on over three continents. She refuses to be defined by meer métier and continues fearlessly to adventure further on her creative path. Her work is as complex as the artist behind it and characterized by interplay, complexity, and diversity. She defies definition and continues to push the boundaries of multiple design disciplines.

Atelier Manferdini’s recent architectural projects include the Cabinet of Wonders entry gate at the La Peer Hotel in West Hollywood, the Kaidda Center for Science and Design in Dongguan, China, and the colorful and iconic Mei Mei Lou Renovation in Chinatown, DTLA. Design projects include a special limited edition collection of rugs with Urban Fabric Rugs and numerous collaborations with the iconic Italian design brand Alessi.

Kaida Center of Science and Design

Kaida Center of Science and Design

Mei Mei Lou Renovation

Mei Mei Lou Renovation

Elena has also explored fashion design collaborations, having created a line of custom design textiles and clothing produced by Bella Tessuti for the A+D Museum Show in 2012 as well as a collection for MAK Center Fashion Week at the Schindler House called Clad Cut which explored the sensuality associated with revealing and concealing the body.

Cut Clad, 2004

Cut Clad, 2004

Among her many accolades, Elena received a Graham Award for architecture, the 2013 ACADIA Innovative Research Award of Excellence, and was selected as a recipient for the Educator of the Year presidential award given by the AIA Los Angeles. In 2011, she was one of the recipients of the prestigious annual grants from the United States Artists (USA) in the category of architecture and design.  Elena currently teaches at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) where she is the Graduate Programs Chair. She was one of three SCI-Arc faculty selected to show at the Chicago Bienniale in 2017.

Chicago Architecture Biennale, 2017

Chicago Architecture Biennale, 2017

When asked in a recent interview in designboom about advice that she might give a young architect, she was full of candor.

I am not sure I have a specific advice for a young architect, and at times I still feel like I am one of them, but there is something I can share. I have never chosen a job solely because it paid well or seemed convenient and yet I found myself being in a place I never imagined possible 20 years ago. I always followed a genuine interest in being involved in what matters the most, and as far as I am concerned, it has always paid off.

Haily Zaki