La casa touch

Oggi si parla tanto di touch, ma poco di soft. La mostra La Casa Morbida, voluta da Foscarini e curata da Beppe Finessi, colma questa lacuna.

Il luogo scelto e il tema della mostra creano un’accoppiata più unica che rara. Il Museo Poldi Pezzoli è prima di tutto una casa, ma anche un luogo di collezione ed esposizione di tessuti preziosi e rari. Gran parte dell’esperienza sta nell’attraversare gli austeri luoghi del museo con le sue durezze (marmi, bronzi, stucchi, armature, legno, vetro) e vederli riempiti di mobili imbottiti, tappeti, ricami, lane. Scovando i pezzi della mostra tra i pezzi della collezione si scopre che la scelta è curata all’ossessione, tra oggetti unici o quasi (come il sorprendente “Tappeto Volante” di Ettore Sottsass) e oggetti visti mille volte (ad esempio i “Feltri” di Gaetano Pesce per Cassina), tra essenzialità grafica (il tappeto “Untitled” di Rosemarie Trockel) e iperboli kitsch (la “Piesces Chair” di Carla Tolomeo).

La Casa Morbida di Foscarini non è una smart home: è un abbraccio da abitare. In un’epoca in cui tutti tocchiamo da mattina a sera freddi monitor di vetro, avere a che fare con un tocco caldo e soffice apre il cuore e la mente. Si torna piccoli inventori, si scoprono esperimenti di ogni sorta, si ammirano lavorazioni magistrali, si resta sorpresi dalla semplicità di alcune idee, ci si scopre a violare il “non toccare” che vige nei musei più tradizionali.

La mostra è aperta a Milano, in via Manzoni 12, fino al 5 maggio.

Kama Sex and Design

Kama_VaginaWall-thumb-620x411-52036My new article for Cool Hunting.

The products of design are often objects of desire, but to what extent can this drive be pushed? The exhibition “Kama Sex and Design” ventures an answer to that weighty question with an analysis of the visual representation of sexual motifs. The starting point is Kama, the Indian god of sexual pleasure, who welcomes visitors into the exhibition space at the Triennale in Milan. The route runs between contemporary objects, classic design, site-specific installations and photographs.

Curator Silvana Annicchiarico tells us that the show “aims to be an exhibition on objects which have the genitals and sexual organs as morphological matrix, but also on the body that maintains sexual relations with other bodies. It is an exhibition that investigates how sex is present in everyday objects.” To achieve this goal, the exhibition is divided into eight sections: Archetypes, Priapus, Origin du Monde, Breasts, Buttocks, Orifices, Couplings and Erotic Food Design, and is accompanied by an ambitious central installation entitled “Anatomical Atlas of the Erotic Refined Body.” Among Etruscan sculptures, Greek vases and Roman artifacts we find very well known works like the Mae West sofa by Salvador Dalí, as well as provocative pieces such as “The Great Wall of Vagina” by Jamie McCartney, a relief of 400 plaster casts of female genitalia.

The exploration begins with a room by Andrea Branzi, in which the relationships between classical and modern, and sex and death, are made explicit through skulls and reproductions of classical female nudes. It continues with a black monolith by Lapo Lani, located in a dark space covered with obscene writing viewed by flashlights.

In another room Nendo‘s “Shivering Bowls” resembling female breasts move as their name suggests, moving in an unexpectedly poetic manner with a constant flow of air. The softness of Nendo’s work contrasts with the hard marble and metals in Betony Vernon‘s installation where mysterious objects of the body (and a provocatively phallic marble chair) are presented in a red space reminiscent of an elegant brothel.

Other designers and artists whose work is on display include Nacho CarbonellNigel CoatesMatali CrassetItalo RotaPiero Fornasetti, Ettore Sottsass, Gaetano Pesce. “Kama Sex and Design” runs through 10 March 2013 and is prohibited for persons under 18 years.

Les Poupées and Vader

My new article for Cool Hunting

Les Poupées marks the first collaboration between Italian designer Luca Nichetto and French gallerist Pascale Cottard Olsson in Stockholm. Combining a ceramic candle holder with a glass vase, each object blends cultural references from the pure lines of Finnish artist and designer Timo Sarpaneva and the colors of Italian maestro Ettore Sottsass to the silhouette of Japanese kokeshi wooden dolls.

Another new project by Nichetto for David Design, presented at the Stockholm Furniture Fair, is Vader, a lamp that experiments with the possibilities of traditional ceramic production, pushing craftsmanship to the limit in order to create a modern design piece. The range of colors has been chosen with Scandinavian culture in mind, but at the same time reflects the designer’s Venetian origins.

We talked to Nichetto about these and some forthcoming projects.

With Les Poupées, you have been able to merge Scandinavian, Japanese and Italian design. Were you interested in highlighting the differences or the similarities between these three design cultures?

I was mainly focused on understanding how, in a global world, the classic cultures of such different countries could be able to give me some elements, to let me create a functional puzzle and generate objects to be sold. When you buy Les Poupées, you hold a piece of my personal point of view on Scandinavian, Japanese and Italian history.

The Vader lamp is tied to a different, more pop inspiration. Was the reference to Star Wars a starting point or just fortuitous?

This is not meant to be a pop project since the allusion to Star Wars is pure coincidence. The initial intuition was a minimal gesture, just two cuts into ceramics. As a result, a functional light object for the space is capable of underlining the quality of the material itself, a quality which relies also on manufacturing.

Can you give us a preview of the projects you are working on?

I’ll unveil several projects during the Milan Design Week, including new collaborations for Cassina and De Padova. I’m still continuing my research process with Established & SonsFoscariniCasamania and Emmegi, but I’ll also be present at Salone del Mobile with small projects for the French editors Petit Friture and La Chance.

Les Poupées are on display at the Hallwyl Museum in Stockholm until 4 March 2012 and sell from Gallery Pascale.

Alessi Milano Shop Resort

My new article from Cool Hunting

For 24 years the house of Alessi in Milan was the store on Corso Matteotti, originally designed by Ettore Sottsass and later renovated by Atelier Mendini. Nevertheless, last week Alessi opened a totally new store conceived by design star Martí Guixé.

The project follows the collaborations for the Shop Museum in Paris and the recent experience of their exhibition at the Triennale Design Museum. Just a short walk from Montenapoleone, the store is located in via Manzoni, close to the metro station La Scala Theatre and the beautiful Poldi Pezzoli Museum.

Divided into four different sections, the space includes a large entrance overlooking Via Manzoni and an area called Museum to display the most sculptural objects in a gallery-like setting. A retail section is reminiscent of the old space, though turned upside down, and “Wunderkammer” hosts new collections and curiosities. Each section has its own strong character, with different lighting systems custom-designed by Guixé himself and produced by Danese.

The predominant colors are glossy red, shiny white and grey, while the materials are mainly aluminum, ceramic, resins and wood. The result is a perfect mixture of Alessi spirit and a design gallery.

Negozio Olivetti

My new article from Cool Hunting

Widely recognized for their Ettore Sottsass-designed Valentine typewriter, one of Olivetti’s less celebrated design accomplishments is the company’s Venice showroom and store. Architect Carlo Scarpa spent two years conceiving the space with a focus on transparencies and materials after commissioned by Adriano Olivetti in the late ’50s, leading to what became one of the most significant architectural achievements of the 20th century.

Located on Venice’s famed Piazza San Marco, 14 years ago the Olivetti store was turned into a novelty shop. Last year the space’s owner, Assicurazioni Generali, began working with the Venice Heritage office to painstakingly refurbish the shop to its original appearance, reinstating authentic materials, forms and color schemes. They also turned to the glorious Italian cultural institution, FAI to protect and manage the building, which is filled with a unique collection of typewriters and calculators donated by Olivetti that’s now open to the public for regular visits along with the rest of the space.

One focal point of the renovated store is Alberto Viani’s “Nudo al Sole”—a sculpture that the architect put above a black Belgian marble plinth covered by water. To achieve the right amount of light, Scarpa increased the number of windows, illuminating the irregularly-shaped mosaic glass floor which changes color in each area. The main entrance is red, the central section almost white, the side entrance blue and the rear yellow.

The showroom-slash-museum provides exhaustive testimony to Scarpa’s construction expertise, taste and sophistication in the dialogue between old and new—skills that enabled him to design a classic in a city of architectural icons. The Olivetti Store is made of savvy construction details, balanced contrasts and constant maniacal research into lettering and texts, the results of which were never so eloquent as they are in the Olivetti Showroom.