Luce fredda, interazione calda

Salone del Mobile 2014, insieme Fuorisalone, sottoinsieme Zona Tortona, sottoinsieme proprio Superstudio Più: qui si trovava Art-Interaction, una piccola installazione che ha presentato un paio di interessanti progetti di design reattivo.

I ragazzi di [archiattack]studio hanno pensato di trasformare in oggetto il fascio di luce di un faretto da concerto. Ecco come nasce cuHop, una lampada a forma di cuopp’ (evocazione partenopea geniuslocale) prodotta da Slide. La luce cambiava e si trasformava con la musica, ma anche con il canto e le parole dei visitatori che avevano a disposizione un microfono.

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Il secondo progetto era “8 minutes” di Roberto Fazio, che ha scelto di collegare la sua installazione luminosa con il satellite GOES 15 del NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, che si trova a circa 36.000 chilometri da Milano. I led nello scantinato del Superstudio Più reagivano all’attività del Sole, ricreando un’esplosione fredda ed emozionante.

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Annunci

Amori da discarica

Qualche tempo fa mi sono fermato a riflettere sull’assurdità del fatto che spesso porto i rifiuti in Montenapoleone. Parlo delle capsule Nespresso che, grazie al progetto Ecolaboration, possono essere restituite al punto vendita per garantirne un corretto smaltimento (io vado in via Verri o in San Babila). E oramai mi trovo a non gettare più una sola capsula nella raccolta indifferenziata.

I rifiuti oggi sono così importanti che ci preoccupiamo di indicare una giusta e corretta strada anche quando siamo costretti a separarcene. E a volte non vorremmo nemmeno allontanarci da loro.

Ce lo dimostra anche un nuovo progetto che – tra design e  arte – crea teneri, dolci, affettuosi rifiuti. Sono i robottini di Massimo Sirelli, realizzati per il progetto Adotta un Robot, “la prima casa adozioni di robot da compagnia al mondo”, presentato durante il Salone del Mobile di Milano alla Mediateca Santa Teresa.

L’idea è semplice e porta a riflettere sull’importanza di recuperare materiali di scarto. Infatti Massimo recupera vecchie latte, lattine, oggetti della memoria, che poi assembla a formare dei robot di varie dimensioni. Andando sul sito del progetto si può scegliere un piccolo da adottare. Ma attenzione, non è sufficiente “acquistarli”, si deve motivare la richiesta, pattuire una cifra per l’adozione e ci si deve impegnare a tenere costantemente aggiornata la community sullo stato di salute e benessere dell’esserino meccanico.

Come non innamorarsi della spazzatura?

Safilo by Marc Newson

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My new article for COOL HUNTING

Italian eyewear brand Safilo is turning 80 this year and instead of hosting a retrospective celebration of its achievements, they chose to honor the important occasion by asking Marc Newson to work on their next set styles, drawn with inspiration from their historic catalogue. An Australian designer extraordinaire, Newson is very well known for his ambitious projects, having designed everything from chairs to airplanes, watches to speedboats, and clothing to cameras, lamps and shoes. He’s also considered to be the initiator behind today’s contemporary design art market, of which he accounts for almost one quarter. His unique pieces often sell for staggering amounts in record-breaking auctions. Altogether, Newson’s ability to innovate in different fields coincides well with heritage brand Safilo’s ability to engage in so much experimentation.

The guiding principles behind Newson’s approach to the archives of Safilo have been transparency and transformation. In particular, the resulting capsule collection consists of five optical frames and two pairs of sunglasses, each of which manifest in five variations through five specific materials and technologies. Newson not only revised the styles, but also combined different peculiar techniques and patents he found across Safilo’s portfolio; like ultra-lightweight Optyl (a trademark of the Italian brand), the Elasta 80 hinge, the ultra-thin steel wire of the historical UFO collection and the combination of aluminum and steel.

The general vibe of the collection is retro-futuristic—clearly inspired by the past, but perfect for the current day. The capsule collection, Safilo by Marc Newson, is completely manufactured in Italy and will be officially presented next month at La Triennale di Milano, in occasion of the Salone del Mobile.

Check out more of the Safilo by Marc Newson sunglasses in the slideshow.

I fashion blogger non sono la rovina della moda

IED Barcelona

IED Barcelona

Puntuali come ogni giro di fashion week, ecco che in quei giorni si svegliano i difensori del “Vero Stile”, quelli che “i fashion blogger sono la rovina della moda”, “Christian Dior si rivolterebbe nella tomba”, “che pagliacci”, “non sopporto quello che mi tocca di vedere all’ingresso delle sfilate”, “faccio foto ma non sono una fashion blogger”, “ormai non riesco più a fotografare degli outfit interessanti” e così via.

Suzy Menkes ha già fatto una perfetta analisi del fenomeno dal punto di vista di una giornalista che sa fare bene il suo mestiere, ma vedere il popolo del web (blogger, influencer, outfitter, Instagrammer, redattori digitali et similia) che si rivolta, francamente sa tanto di teatro dell’assurdo.

Perché di teatro si tratta. Cosa sono le sfilate se non il momento di rappresentazione massima del sistema moda? Cosa sono se non l’apoteosi dell’immagine sopra il contenuto? Ci sono mille altre occasioni per sperimentare la qualità dei dettagli, la meraviglia delle lavorazioni, la bellezza del progetto, l’eccellenza di tagli e forme, ma le fashion week sono per definizione il tempo della rappresentazione, non del racconto.

Succede anche durante il Salone del Mobile, quando i puristi si scandalizzano davanti al “Sagrone del Mobile” di zona Tortona, alle vetrine della moda trasformate in contenitori di oggetti d’arredo, alle feste in cui non vedi nemmeno un oggetto. Piaccia o no, questi fuochi d’artificio sono il necessario momento di richiamo per il grande pubblico, le casse di risonanza in cui vale tutto, le migliori occasioni possibili per dare sfogo alla visibilità e per incontrare persone e personaggi.

Il vero lavoro di chi ama lo moda dovrebbe essere la ricerca del bello, non la critica del brutto. Tutte le volte in cui ci troviamo di fronte alle chiassose celebrazioni collettive delle “week”, ad ogni latitudine, vediamo la sperimentazione più pura. E non tutti gli esperimenti sono ciambelle con un bel buco al centro. La sperimentazione estrema non arriva solo dagli stilisti, dai designer, dalle aziende, ma oggi arriva anche dalle persone comuni, dagli utenti, da chi la moda la mette suo suo corpo e non su quello di una modella professionista.

Per cui ben venga il circo, se il circo ci consente di osservare il nuovo, non solo il passato che non passa mai, fatto solo di bellezza e regole della nonna. Chissenefrega dell’eleganza pura, quella delle cariatidi dello stile che oggi vediamo solo nei musei. La moda, se vuole avere ancora un’occasione per dire qualcosa sul mondo che cambia, deve accettare di essere maltrattata, ripresa, stravolta e ricomposta. Magari con un po’ di ironia e leggerezza, con il sorriso di chi può imparare qualcosa di nuovo anche da chi ci sembra strano e fuori luogo, persino kitsch.

Le reazioni indignate dei benpensanti sono state il sale e il pepe che ha permesso a ogni grande nome di fare un passo avanti. Oggi è facile e comodo rimpiangere Anna Piaggi, Coco Chanel, Isabella Blow, Yves Saint-Laurent, solo per citare i più citati: ognuno di loro ha fatto esperimenti, fregandosene bellamente di quello che si diceva attorno a loro, facendo errori e correggendoli, provando a fare quello che avevano voglia di fare per poi modificarlo in base a quello che avrebbero pensato poco dopo.

Gli stilisti da passerella oggi sono (giustamente) influenzati anche da quello che succede al di fuori delle loro sfilate, perché i più intelligenti sanno osservare il cambiamento senza prendere posizioni retrograde e chiuse, sapendo poi rifinire il loro stile di conseguenza, per assonanza o per contrasto. Perché Prada ha deciso di inserire le pellicce nelle collezioni Primavera/Estate? Sicuramente per vendere nell’emisfero australe, ma anche perché nell’emisfero boreale le sfilate Autunno/Inverno si fanno a febbraio, quando fa piuttosto freddo, e in quell’occasione la gente della moda indossa già i primi abiti proposti per la bella stagione. Se in collezione c’è qualcosa che possa scaldare un po’ (non le calze, quelle non si mettono!) è probabile che appaia su tutti i giornali e blog del mondo indosso ad Anna dello Russo come anteprima di quello che si trova già nei negozi. E questa nuova regola è stata dettata anche dal proliferare del “circus of fashion”.

Infatti, se la strada influenza ancora la passerella, oggi è anche la strada con i binari del tram di Milano, il blogger mile di Parigi, il cortile della Somerset House di Londra e la piazza del Lincoln Center di New York. Certo è che vediamo le esagerazioni, le esasperazioni, le pagliacciate: ma non succedeva anche negli anni ’80? Ah, i mitici anni ’80, spesso resi mitici soltanto dalla nostalgia di chi in quegli anni iniziava la sua carriera nel mondo della moda e si sentiva libero di fare quello che voleva, errori e orrori inclusi.

Solo il tempo sarà in grado di dire chi aveva ragione o no, chi aveva una visione e chi invece aveva solo voglia di fotografare per essere fotografato. Ma fintanto che si prova a fare qualcosa di nuovo e di diverso, vive la revolution!

Perché se il giudizio sullo stile può essere personale, sulla sperimentazione sarebbe utile essere quantomeno possibilisti. Con la certezza che (giusto per citare il solito Oscar Wilde) “il brutto può essere bello, il carino mai”.

 

Interview: Alessandro Mendini at Venini

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My new article for Cool Hunting.

Alessandro Mendini is a living legend in the field of international design and architecture. His versatility and outstanding ability to cross disciplines has helped pioneer the multi-pronged approach to design so commonly applied today, and has led him to become both a highly sought after director for forward-thinking publications like Casabella and Domus, as well as a range of companies from all over the world. He lends his talents to established brands but also promising young designers, and remains very involved in the definition of future forms of education. We had the privilege of meeting Mendini during the recent Milan Design Week at the Venini showroom, where we discussed the past and future of glassmaking, the role of masters and makers, 3D printing and his history working with one of the world’s premiere glassworks.

How long have you been working for Venini?

I’ve been working with Venini for so many years I can not even remember how many! With Venini I did some very interesting things, many of which using their signature techniques and colors, both very special. Over the years, little by little I came to realize vases, lamps, light sculptures, very large vessels, figures, horses, totems and so on. Sometimes the occasion was a product for their catalog, other times it was because of my attendance in special exhibitions, for which I asked them to have some specific things. For example in 2002, for the Fondation Cartier in Paris, I created with Venini a great red face wearing golden earrings by Cartier, with archaic eyes inspired by the sculptures of Easter Island.

In 2005, for an exhibition in Athens, I made a blue vase with wings called Giotto, with whom I was going to represent Italy through the blue of the great Italian painter. I also allowed Venini to meet with other companies. For example, one recent thing that is presented during the Milan Design Week at the Galleria Jannone, is Amuleto. It is a series of very technical lamps, characterized by a circular symbol: the glass is made by Venini while the Korean company Ramun has realized the electrical parts.

What is your relationship with glass?

Glass is clearly a material of great charm, but it is fascinating also to work within the memories of Venini. It is very difficult, because there’s always a moment of suspension which is meeting with the master craftsman. I do not go often in the furnaces—I go there every so often and they have an incredible appeal. However, I work at a desk, I’m not able to work with a glass master and tell him what to do. I have to get prepared for the furnace, also prepared for the fact that, like every craftsman, the master glassmaker always says “no, you can’t do that.” The technical abilities are theirs, not mine, and the relationship with them becomes really a true partnership on equal terms.

One of the ideas you lecture on is that of “The Makers,” yet one of the themes that emerged at this year’s Design Week is immaterial design, a form of lightweight, almost invisible design.

The story of The Makers is linked to the hypothesis to be able to work independently from the industry. In the world of makers, individualities tend to realize things with a do-it-yourself approach, through simple technologies and sophisticated materials. This also responds to needs related to the decline of educational institutions and the need for people to make things in isolation, away from institutional places. I am very interested in these issues and for two consecutive years I did an exhibition about makers at La Fabbrica del Vapore. Then there are the traditional makers, craftsmen, but this is a different story. On the other hand, the evanescence of design is linked to the development of electronics, digital tools that become abstractions of communication and information. In the digital devices you can have an entire library and everything is dematerialized.

I think it is important that the sophistication of craft traditions remains. For example, you can not say that with a 3D printer you’ll make an interesting piece in glass. With this technology you can make a disposable glass, with a bad material, slightly polluting, badly designed. The tradition of glass, for example, from the Middle Ages until today is a tradition of sophistication in its use and rhetoric, in the ceremonial use of objects. This is related to the idea itself of the ancient, of the archaic, and it is a matter of anthropology.

The one does not deny the other, but my personal discourse is neither technological nor technocratic, it is a matter of humanistic utopia. If I find utopia in what I see (given that it is not purely technological), then I’m interested. For me, utopia means to aim at something that can not be reached, whatever it is.

Which projects did you present for Venini this year?

Genevra is a project born in the Swiss town, where a group of watchmakers asked me to make 13 different objects with 13 different materials. One of these was made by Venini and it was similar to this but not the same. I started with a form derived by Carlo Scarpa, a very attractive component for large chandeliers. This has been produced in eight copies only, because it is very complex and very slow in the making. It carries an LED lamp, with a metal base and a metal top.

“La colonna di Venini luminosa” was originally called only “La colonna di Venini” and was a tribute to the masters of Venini. The first version had no light inside, and each sphere was made with a precise technique used by a master of Venini, including Ettore Sottssass, Mario Bellini, Carlo Scarpa, Tapio Wirkkala, Fulvio Bianconi, Gae Aulenti among the others. This version has been fully revolutionized. There is an alternation of two colors but the blown glass is always mine, no more references to the company’s past.

Visit to Lasvit

Some more images from the Lasvit press trip to Bohemia for Cool Hunting.

Glass blowing

Glass blowing

The factory in Novy Bor

The factory in Novy Bor

The factory in Novy Bor

The factory in Novy Bor

Cutting and finishing

Cutting and finishing

Cutting and finishing

Cutting and finishing

Blowing Arik Levy's Jar

Blowing Arik Levy’s Jar

Blowing Arik Levy's Jar

Blowing Arik Levy’s Jar

Blowing Arik Levy's Jar

Blowing Arik Levy’s Jar

Blowing Arik Levy's Jar

Blowing Arik Levy’s Jar

Arik Levy's Jar

Arik Levy’s Jar

Color tests for Jar by Arik Levy

Color tests for Jar by Arik Levy

Arik Levy presenting Jar

Arik Levy presenting Jar

Arik Levy's Jar

Arik Levy’s Jar

Arik Levy's Jar tests

Arik Levy’s Jar tests

Arik Levy's Jar tests

Arik Levy’s Jar tests

Arik Levy showing possible finishings for his Jar

Arik Levy showing possible finishings for his Jar

Glass ingredients

Glass ingredients

Moulds archives

Moulds archives

Moulds archives

Moulds archives

Moulds archives

Moulds archives

Moulds archives

Moulds archives

Mould making

Mould making

Maurizio Galante

Maurizio Galante

Plisse by Maurizio Galante

Plisse by Maurizio Galante

Plisse by Maurizio Galante

Plisse by Maurizio Galante

Plisse by Maurizio Galante

Plisse by Maurizio Galante

Plisse by Maurizio Galante

Plisse by Maurizio Galante

Working on Plisse by Maurizio Galante

Working on Plisse by Maurizio Galante

The moulds for Plisse by Maurizio Galante

The moulds for Plisse by Maurizio Galante

The moulds for Plisse by Maurizio Galante

The moulds for Plisse by Maurizio Galante

The moulds for Plisse by Maurizio Galante

The moulds for Plisse by Maurizio Galante

The moulds for Plisse by Maurizio Galante

The moulds for Plisse by Maurizio Galante

The moulds for Plisse by Maurizio Galante

The moulds for Plisse by Maurizio Galante

Maurizio Galante

Maurizio Galante

Novy Bor

Novy Bor

Interview: Daniele Lago and Paola Jannelli

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My new article for Cool Hunting

Considered one of the most interesting furniture companies in Italy, LAGO shines for its vision and often surprising and extremely innovative approach to design. Together with Jannelli&Volpi—also a leader in Italian design for wallpaper and furnishing fabrics, and for their JVstore in Milan—they have now developed a line of poetic and surreal wallpaper called “Luci e Ombre,” or “Light and Shadows”.

The two companies meld their shared foundations of family entrepreneurial tradition to collaborate on the illusionistic decor, which features reflections from wrought iron railings, ornamental window sills, balconies, terraces and imaginary curtains tossing imaginary shadows across the non-woven fabric. Some of the designs also recall some iconic LAGO modular furniture, like the N.O.W wardrobe.

The first “Luci e ombre” wall coverings were exhibited at Abitare il Tempo in late 2012, but the entire collection was presented by LAGO at IMM Cologne, last January. LAGO and Jannelli&Vopli will showcase the collection at the official Salone Internazionale del Mobile but also at the parallel Fuorisalone, the series of events that every year transform the entire city of Milan. We had the chance to interview Daniele Lago and Paola Jannelli, the two minds behind the entire development of the project.

LAGO company started off with furniture and now it’s going in the direction of a fully accessorized home. How important is it to you to decorate the entire interior?

Lago: For us it is important to have a positive impact on people’s lives and in our path, we realized that we needed a zoom-out from the simple product. Thanks to the Appartamento LAGO project (where I acted as an interior designer) I realized that the role of the interior designer is central to rethink how we live the home today. So I thought it would be fun to suggest other types of products, later to be put in the hands of interior designers, like new letters that expand the LAGO alphabet with a new vocabulary. This project will be launched in a preview during the upcoming Salone at the core of our Fuorisalone events in our apartment in Via Brera, 30.

How did the collaboration with LAGO began?

Jannelli: From a mutual understanding that I think prompted the original call and sparked the necessary enthusiasm. Being able to ensure all our experience, technique, history and continuity in the construction of a product such as the wallpaper, I think, has helped us to enhance and support an idea that has generated great synergy.

This line of wallpaper is highly poetic and personal. What do you think of the relationship between representation and evocation?

Lago: The first time I met Paola, if I remember correctly, we had a passionate discussion on the concept of decoration—both of us being genuine and sincere, and in the end we just understood each other. I wanted to investigate in a more intimate way the world of decoration applied to wallpaper, seeking magic representations that produced positive feelings. “Luci e ombre” came about while I was having breakfast on a quiet Sunday morning and the shadows generated by a beautiful sun made me feel good. I just tried to reproduce that feeling onto the wallpaper.

This collection can recall the photographic wallpapers so popular in the 1970s. Is there an explicit reference?

Jannelli: I do not think we should look for historical references. I think we’d rather focus on the contemporary side of our product that transcends the meaning of pure decoration. We find design-oriented strength in innovative technical values that stimulate the imagination and improve the quality of a space with a simple sign like a ray of light, shadows, the flight of butterflies, reflections, dreams.

Can you anticipate us some of the things that you will present at the next Salone del Mobile?

Lago: We have many plans. At the official exhibition center we will present the segment of interior design, from floor to wall finishes, but also the wallpapers. A 20-meters-long wooden table will cut in two the stand, where visitors will engage in a very social atmosphere. We will introduce new products that range from tables and bathrooms to systems designed by Lagostudio and myself. At Appartamento LAGO we will launch two major projects, and Architonic will be our media partner for a series of speeches with architects and designers. Last but not least, in the Lagostore on via Turati, most likely we will create a performance that involves the store windows. If you want to come and visit us at Appartamento, you are welcome—we never run out of coffee.

And what will Jannelli&Volpi present at Fuorisalone this year?

Jannelli: Many of our efforts are concentrated at our JVstore. This place has always been the headquarters of the company. There we’ll present Wonder Wallpaper (art direction by Matteo Ragni), a wonderful journey into the world of wall coverings, in which we present the new Jwall line, created with five photographers and Jannelli & Volpi’s CreativeLab.

Some other projects are a partnership with TDM6, the sixth edition of the Trienniale Design Museum, in addition to ZeroDesignFestival, which will take place from 15 to 17 of March at the Museum of Science and Technology, just before and in preparation of Salone. New partnerships with companies with whom we share the vision of the project include Stone Italiana presenting with us Stonewallpaper—in ‘stone paper’—within the project Stone Circus by Lorenzo Palmeri and, of course, LAGO.

Image courtesy of Lago and Jannelli&Volpi