PHOTO: PAUL MCLAUGHLIN
Mike Davies and Richard Rogers, who fi rst worked together on the Pompidou Centre project
What inspires you, apart from architecture? Anything interesting is a passion. My problem is I’ve got too many passions. I have been an amateur astronomer all my life and in my spare time I build large telescopes and observatories. I love sailing, I rock climbed for many years and I’m an eclipse chaser. My wife and I go where we are told to go to by the movement of our solar system, rather than by a travel agent. The universe says, ‘right, you need to be on this little atoll in the South Pacific for two and a half minutes,’ and that’s where we go. A total eclipse of the sun is one of the rare moments when a human can actually watch the earth, moon and our solar system visibly moving. You witness this huge eye in the sky staring down on the world.
CLAD mag 2017 ISSUE 2
You’re famous for dressing only in red. How did this begin? It started in California in the late 1960s. This was the era of the Beatles – nobody was in grey suits. One day, walking on Hollywood Boulevard, I saw an incredible electric purple velvet suit in a shop window and smitten, I bought it straight away. In Paris I used to travel from my flat by train to the Pompidou site in my purple suit. I thought the French women were quite bold, because I always got my bottom pinched on the Metro. One day Pierre Boulez said, ‘I admire your courage for wearing this incredible colour – and even more for demonstrating your homosexuality in public.’ I asked him what he meant, and he said: ‘Do you not know this is the code colour for the homosexual
community in Paris if you’re incognito?’ So I found out that it wasn’t the ladies who had been pinching my bottom on the Metro, it was the men! Being happily married to a wonderful French lady, to avoid confusion I went to the local sports shop and bought three pairs of bright red golf trousers. That’s when I started wearing all red. It makes it easy to break the ice at parties, and you waste no time wondering what to wear in the morning. I have a red car, red telescopes and I draw with red pens. My clothes have started thousands of conversations and they tend to cheer everybody up, including New York immigration officers – which is quite an achievement! Forty years of performance art in a conservative world have been an unmissable pleasure. ●