I made a fish for a fashion show at the Pitti Palace. And the fashion show was a company that billed Valentino, and I forget the names, all the great fashion designers. And I made this wooden fish 35 feet long. And inside the fish was a mannequin dressed in a beautiful new garb sitting on a chair and you could see it through the eyeball. And then some mannequins standing beside. And it was embarrassing, because the wood was very kitsch. The tails were there. The eyes were there. I didn’t have much time because I had to do this mostly over drawings sent and stuff. I had Cinecittà make the fish, and it was very quick.
When I saw the fish in — they took it to the — in Torino to the museum that started there. I can’t remember the name. But there’s an old castle. They turned it into a museum, and they had a show and they put that fish there along with some of my other models in a room. And I walked in and saw this kitsch piece of wood with — I mean it really was — I mean it was so embarrassing. I mean, “Oy oy oy!” And I remember standing beside it with the director of the museum at that time, a contemporary guy, a very famous guy — I forget his name — who was not a fan of my work, or he wasn’t into architecture. But I sort of represented maverick stuff. I remember standing beside him and I noticed that the fish moved. It seemed to move. And I didn’t say anything. He said to me, “Hey, can we have a drink?” Sure. I went down to the restaurant and had a drink. He said, “How’d you do that?”
So the next thing I did was I did the show at Walker. I cut off the tail. I cut off the head. I got rid of the eyes and everything, made it as abstract as I could, and it still worked. You still felt a movement. So then I was able to take it into buildings. And that’s the history of that. And the only way I could build it — I couldn’t build it, because you couldn’t do it with descriptive geometry. The first attempts at it were kind of awkward and that was at Vitra. But through IBM they took me to Dassault, people that build airplanes in France, and their software, and I met with them in this office sitting here. We formed a kind of partnership and started working on using their software to define these buildings so they could be built. And Bilbao was the second building we tried it on. The first one was in Spain, this big fish sculpture where we were able to define multiple compound curves and build them.