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30UNDER30’s Zara Pasfield on the collision of art and architecture


Australian Design Review (ADR) is heading to Bali this week with the 30UNDER30 Architects and Innovators of the Built World for 2023/2024. To celebrate, we are getting to know this exciting multidisciplinary cohort, the passions that drive their work and what makes them tick creatively.

Zara Pasfield is an installation artist with a degree in interior and spatial architecture. She’s also the co-founder of the Sydney-based design studio Atelier Sisu. 

Alongside co-founder Renzo B. Larriviere, the pair work with a multi-disciplinary team to create experiential environments, installations and sculptures. Pasfield relies on abstract forms, illumination and soundscapes to create energising and invigorating public spaces for people.

Atelier Sisu
Atelier Sisu’s ‘bubble-tecture’ artwork, Evanescent in London. Photo: Markus Ravik
ADR: If you could work with any architect, designer, artist or other creative –  living or dead – who would you work with and why? 

Zara Pasfield: This is an interesting question. For me, I think the people I admire creatively and the people with whom I would like to collaborate are very different. From a learning and admiration perspective, I would love to spend a day inside the heads of artists such as Cyril Lancelin from Town and Concrete or Marc Fornes from TheVeryMany. Both of these designers are reimagining what the meaning of architecture can be, through spatial explorations and surreal forms. 

At the top of my list would be designer, artist and architect Olafur Eliasson, and designer Es Devlin. Their work is not only thoughtful but also immensely creative and innovative. 

From a collaboration point of view, the best collaborations for Atelier Sisu would be with institutions and platforms. I spent a lot of my weekends growing up at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) in Sydney and it is somewhere that I would be most excited to collaborate with. 

Although I have been incredibly lucky to exhibit Atelier Sisu’s work all around the world, I would really like to present our work more at home in Australia. The MCA is a space where I was able to understand and learn about the medium of temporary art. I would be excited to present my work here, to hopefully motivate a new generation of Australian designers.  

Another institution close to home that I would relish the opportunity to collaborate with would be Sydney Festival and Art and About.

Zara Pasfield Atelier Sisu
Evanescent by Atelier Sisu
ADR: Is there a particular project that you’ve worked on that has been the highlight of your career so far? 

ZP: The most significant project of my career thus far has to be Atelier Sisu’s Ephemeral Bubble-tecture collection. This is a collection of works we developed during the pandemic and we presented the debut in Brisbane in 2021. 

The work aimed to capture the fragility of life. Like everyone around the world, everything that we took for granted in our daily lives seemed to cease during the pandemic. Collectively, we became conscious of the transient and ephemeral nature of the world. This is what we hoped to capture through the concept of the bubble; something delicate, beautiful and momentary. 

This collection of work allowed us to be seen on a global stage and to present our work in museums, galleries, festivals and in spaces that we hadn’t even imagined before. To me, it not only represents a work that pushed forward Atelier Sisu’s trajectory, but also a collection that represents our first in-depth exploration of air as a construction tool.

Zara Pasfield
Elysian by Atelier Sisu in Liverpool

The use of inflatable structures allows us to create large-scale artworks that can be installed rapidly in one location, removed and transported elsewhere without the need for large machinery or extended construction periods. This methodology allowed us not only to create on a large scale but also to reach many places in a short period of time.

Over the past few years, we have aimed to use inflation as a construction methodology, endeavouring to create inflatable artworks that don’t look like inflatables, but rather facilitate immersive temporary experiences and re-imagine the spatial environments and the urban fabric. 

ADR: What drives your work and what do you hope to achieve in your career?

ZP: Bjarke Ingles said he “realises his dreams one step at a time”. It took me a while to fully understand this. Now, at this early stage of my career, I can already see how the goal-defining posts keep shifting with every accomplishment. As I further understand my own practice and approach to projects, the definition of that ‘end goal’ seems to be constantly evolving. 

We were lucky enough to collaborate with the City of Liverpool in the United Kingdom to create our most recent large-scale collection titled, ‘Elysian’. This project allowed us to explore materiality in-depth, push the boundaries of inflatable form and experiment with flow choreography within our site. After the success of our Ephemeral collection, I feel that this project let us articulate further our desire to blur the lines between art and architecture, solidifying the intent of Atelier Sisu. We tackle every brief and project with this ethos of ‘Art-chitecture’ – as we define it – and seek to develop a design language that further enhances the goal of bringing art out into the streets to make it part of the everyday.

ADR: How did it feel to make it into Australian Design Review’s 30UNDER30?

ZP: Making it into the 30UNDER30 cohort has been incredibly humbling. I am very grateful to Australian Design Review for this accolade. It is hugely motivating to see the work of such a talented group of designers and architects and I am really looking forward to meeting this year’s cohort and learning from their respective fields. 

Photography supplied by Pasfield.

ADR’s 30UNDER30 Architects and Innovators of the Built World stream is brought to you by major sponsor Neolith, alongside Miele, Interface and Tongue & Groove. The program is also supported by practice partners BVN, HDR Inc, SJB, Richard Stanisich, Williams Burton Leopardi, and Billard Leece Partnership. To find out more about the final 30, including their places of work and discipline areas, head to the 30UNDER30 page.


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