Designer Adam Nathaniel Furman has created a series of brightly colored illustrations called Postmodern Icons, which celebrates buildings such as the Isle of Dogs pumping station in London and the James R Thompson Center in Chicago.
The series is a personal project that Furman started during the 2020 coronavirus lockdown, when he decided to revisit an old hobby of drawing buildings he loved and creating 3D models of them.
After adapting one of these models for illustration and enjoying the process, he decided to make it an ongoing series, focusing on postmodernism as there was “a gap” in its artistic representation.
“There are a lot of illustrations of Modernist buildings and Victorian buildings and great landmarks from our cities from other times,” Furman told Dezeen. “There isn’t a lot of postmodern architecture readily available, which I really like.”
Often colorful and eclectic, postmodern architecture flourished in the 1980s and 1990s as a setback against the functional ethics of modernism.
Furman tries to illustrate the buildings in as simple a style as possible, using just a few lines and blocks of bright colors to convey their essential character.
For some buildings, such as London’s No 1 Poultry by James Stirling and Isle of Dogs Pumping Station by John Outram, the result is a very simplified illustration which Furman describes as containing “just the right amount of information and no more” .
Others, like the Kyoto Syntax building now demolished by Shin Takamatsu, are rendered in more detail, which Furman considers necessary to communicate the brilliance of Takamatsu’s work.
Some illustrations, including those of M2 by Kengo Kuma and the AT&T building by Philip Johnson and John Burgee, appear as abstract collections of shapes.
Furman chooses buildings he likes for his illustrations, focusing largely but not exclusively on postmodernism, although not all of his favorites have been adapted for the series.
The subjects must be able to stand on their own, without their urban context.
“They’re presented as sort of floating solitary objects – like memories, indeed,” Furman said. “And I’ve always been obsessed with memories, in general.”
“If you look, a lot of my design work revolves around the idea of remembrance, that sort of encapsulation of something that represents something bigger.”
Furman posts the artwork on Instagram and sells them as prints and merchandise, such as mugs and tote bags, on his website. He also tries to use the work to draw attention to the causes of architectural heritage.
The designer illustrated the James R Thompson Center by Helmut Jahn in Chicago, recently saved from demolition, as well as the Solpol building by Wojciech Jarząbek in Wrocław, which has earned Furman the wrath of Polish commentators.
“I got loads of angry comments from Poles like ‘this disgusting building should be demolished!’ – this is the reaction that very often happens to a style when it has not yet come back to life. fashion, ”he said.
“The same happened with brutalism, and now it’s everyone’s favorite. Postmodernism is going through the same thing,” he continued.
Known for his colorful and playful designs, Furman sees himself as part of a movement he has dubbed New London Fabulous.
His recent work includes the Proud Little Pyramid installation at King’s Cross in London and anatomically shaped chairs in pastel colors that explore cuteness and strangeness.