Renzo Piano: “Creativity is Only Possible When You Share Creativity”

If you are missing the capacity to create emotion, then it doesn’t work, it’s not enough.
– Renzo Piano

In this in-depth biographical video by the Louisiana ChannelRenzo Piano talks about his earliest influences, why traveling is essential, the pleasures of drawing, what creativity really means, how “computers are a bit stupid,” the way “beauty can change the world,” and more.


Image via screenshot from video

Image via screenshot from video

Piano is not one to indulge in what he calls “the trap of nostalgia” when asked about his early life, influences, and his own legacy. For him, what’s important is “not what you’ve done, what you’ve been–but what you will be and what you will do.” While the simplest, most obvious influence comes from his father being a builder, the architect also recognizes other factors that helped shape his ideas: the city of Genoa where he was born and raised, the sea which he likens to a “consommé of different cultures,” ships in all their formal and technical grandeur, lively exchanges with friends from various creative disciplines, as well as his appreciation for the value of discussing, listening and exchanging thoughts with fellow beings.

One thing is for sure–that architecture is everything come together.

Referring to architecture as a “pacifist idea,” he discusses how building is more of a “civic gesture” because of the way it eventually affects the daily lives of users, and also acts as a container for the unfolding of history. That is why, for Piano, making public buildings is all the more meaningful. But while architecture is fascinating for him, equally important is a regular distancing from one’s own work through travel. By doing so, one not only gains perspective, but also a greater sense of appreciation for diversity. He asserts: “Diversity is a value, not a problem.”

Most interesting of all perhaps are Piano’s thoughts on team-work, how “creativity is only possible when you share creativity,” and how it is only by fully embracing mistakes that one can partake in the creative process–something that he good-humoredly offers as advice for the young: “If you say something stupid, don’t worry, if you say ten things and five of them are not stupid, that’s really quite good.”

But ultimately, architecture’s essence, for Piano, is contained in what he calls “beauty.” Beauty not in the purely cosmetic sense, but in terms of “discovery, light, space, compression, expansion, shadow, and a sense of lightness, maybe eventually with something that is called language.”

If beauty is there, then beauty can change the world […] one person at a time of course, but it will do it.

Read more about Renzo Piano’s work covered on ArchDaily here.

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