ARTS & CRAFTS & DESIGN
The European days: Mendini La Pietra, Sabattini and the women in workshops
FlorilĂ¨ge, the masterpieces by the artisans of Vacheron Constantin
Giorgetti and Linley the secrets of noble wood
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rlo a C n- es* a u J r To r
TIME, THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT All the artistic crafts, and not just those related to watchmaking, require time: and time becomes the key to their legitimacy What is the common denominator uniting the excellent crafts presented in this new issue of Arts & Crafts & Design? Time. François Rabelais wrote that “with Time all things are revealed; Time is the father of truth”. In the case of the métiers d’art, this truth is closely linked to elements which constitute a competitive advantage, and which make a real difference: originality, authenticity, legitimacy, dexterity. And time reveals the pristine beauty of the objects crafted by the artisans, thus becoming a friend and an ally of their creations, adding to them a symbolic and intrinsic value. Time becomes an essential ingredient. The time required for thought to transform a traditional Black Forest object. The time granted by the best designers to the master glassblowers of Barovier & Toso and which has always been an essential factor in expressing their talent. The time taken by cabinetmakers and ceramic specialists to give life to materials that thus appear in an even more beautiful shape thanks to their meticulous hand workmanship. Time is an essential ingredient of the Artistic Crafts that touch so many worlds, as well as the key to their legitimacy. One cannot hope to understand the Artistic Crafts without measuring them against the time played out in history, since these are often very ancient trades; the time inherent in expertise which requires years of practice; the time relating
to the creative process, which deﬁes time itself; and the time involved in passing on these skills. Throughout its over 250 years of existence, Vacheron Constantin has been committed to paying tribute to time through an ongoing quest for technical and aesthetic excellence. This love of ﬁne craftsmanship inspires every gesture of the master watchmakers and artistic masters in creating each object. Passion is the driving force behind their skill, patience and delicacy. Within such an approach, the countless hours devoted to such tasks are of merely secondary importance. For all Artistic Crafts, and not just those related to watchmaking, time resembles the famous thread followed by Ariadne, who was granted immortality. It is therefore now our common duty to ensure their longevity.
Vacheron Constantin was the very ﬁrst in the 1990s to rekindle the ﬂame of the Artistic Crafts. The latter indeed lie at the very origins of our success, as is vividly demonstrated by the chased and gilt balance-cock on the ﬁrst known watch by company founder Jean-Marc Vacheron. We are committed to fostering this mission, just as it nurtures our own endeavours. And we are delighted by the ever-increasing reputation of the European Art and Craft Profession Days of which we are the main sponsor. Each object, each work mingling past and present, artist and artisan, material and concept, cultivates the magic and keeps the dream vibrantly alive.
*CEO Vacheron Constantin
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E d i t o r ’s l e t t e r
Te n a c nlu a i G
THE WORKSHOP OF WONDERS WILL SAVE US To deﬁne our future by drawing inspiration from the great masters of the past is the only way to contrast the nihilism of the soul The Métier d’Art is a living matter. In fact it is life itself. Man-mind-matter is Franz Botré’s mantra. And the director and editor of Swan Group is the man who, together with Franco Cologni and the prestigious eponymous Foundation, conceived this magazine, which is an ode to beauty. Man can think and imagine. Man elaborates ideas in his mind, develops and moulds them, cuts, sews, directs, interprets and adapts. In other words, man creates. Matter can be shaped into small but beautiful masterpieces of ingenuity. This ancient yet contemporary liturgy is expressed in modern design, the alchemical formula that gives new life to the workshop. I say workshop because it is the most ﬁtting and elegant deﬁnition of the concept that encompasses production and trade, which has made our cities, indeed our civilisations, great. Let us take a look around us, in Italy and indeed the whole world. It is important to understand what “to learn and train in the workshop” really means. In the ﬁfteenth century, Leonardo da Vinci was educated in the studio of Verrocchio, Michelangelo learned from Ghirlandaio. The workshop was were teaching, learning, testing, experimenting, collaboration and the creation of one’s identity took place. They were painters, artists. But they were experimenting with new techniques every day, stimulated by the requests of their customers. Other artisans lived and worked with them, master carpenters, masons, builders. Look at the historical heart of any city. A simple task in my case, talking about my hometown, Florence. Brunelleschi’s Cupola, the harmony of the Baptistery (originally a temple dedicated to the god Mars), the Tower of Arnolfo which soars above Palazzo Vecchio since the Middle Ages. The frescoes. The wrought iron. The sculpted marble. The stained glass windows. Think. Think carefully. There weren’t any universities with specialisation courses. There was no such thing as a faculty of engineering or architecture.
And yet they hauled tonnes of marble into the air. Blocks that formed graceful designs. There was no industry. But look at what has remained. The woodwork, the inlays, the gilded altarpieces in the Sacristy of San Lorenzo are absolute masterpieces, regardless of who made them. Where did those artisans learn their craft? Where did they learn the secrets of those techniques? At the workshop. This essential concept alone will allow us to reinforce mankind’s true heritage, the Métier d’Art. We should look at how Japan safeguards “living national treasures”, namely its artisan-artists. We should take good notice of how Foundations strenuously ﬁght back the advance of nihilism (ad nihil, the lack of orientation towards the purpose of life). You can read a story in a piece of Meissen pottery, breathe the atmosphere of the tenth century, during the Tang dynasty, relive the spirit of adventure which, three centuries later, would lead the legend of Marco Polo along the Silk Route. The same spirit that made Johann Friedrich Böttger turn porcelain into his philosopher’s stone. The workshop means manual skills, the handing down of ancient traditions, manufacturing crafts and taste for beauty. Modern man cannot alienate his own legacy. Be it a piece of Murano blown glass, a complication conceived on an island in Geneva, the creation of a stringed instrument, a piece of furniture that stands out in a residence that has turned contemporary living into a mission. It is with this spirit, dedicated to beauty, joy, the manual skills of today, that we are setting out on this journey, to give value to our productions. I say “our” because I am not referring to a particular area, but to a social context in which wisdom, curiosity and the love for beauty can bring distant peoples together. Both in Italy and around the world, thanks to the invaluable support of Vacheron Constantin, which, guided by its mission, enables the internationalisation of the new number of this magazine of wonders.
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Perspective TIME, THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT by Juan-Carlos Torres Editor’s letter THE WORKSHOP OF WONDERS WILL SAVE US by Gianluca Tenti Workshops Books Awards Initiatives Fairs Shows ALBUM by Stefania Montani
Maîtres of design A SENSUAL AND ELEGANT DESIGN by Ugo La Pietra
Living treasures A HERITAGE OF CULTURE AND BEAUTY by Akemi Okumura Roy
Schools of excellence THE ART OF COMPETENCE by Conceição Amaral
Maîtres of design SPACE DANCES WITH ME by Ugo La Pietra
Luxury crafts A SECRET IN EVERY DRAWER by Giovanna Marchello
Maîtres d’art THE DEAFENING SILENCE OF CERAMICS by Simona Cesana
The European days: Mendini La Pietra, Sabattini and the women in workshops
Florilège, the masterpieces by the artisans of Vacheron Constantin
Giorgetti and Linley the secrets of noble wood
«Eight», a work by Alessandro Mendini in inlaid wood, produced by Andrea Fedeli for the «Arts & Crafts & Design» exhibition. Photo: Emanuele Zamponi. Courtesy of Vacheron Constantin.
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Emerging talents DISSONANT TRADITION by Simona Cesana
Restoration BEAUTY RESTORED by Alessandra de Nitto
Celebrating talent ULRIKE’S VIOLAS by Virginia Villa
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Timeless dedication THE TEMPLE OF FLORA by Alberto Cavalli International showcase THE EUROPEAN DAYS by Alessandra de Nitto Enterprises THE REFLECTIONS OF LIGHT by Carla Sonego
Environment and landscape IN SEACH OF THE LOST TREES by Lara Lo Calzo
Creating value ATELIER OF HAUTE JOAILLERIE by Valentina Ceriani Business and talent FURNISHING DESIGN by Valentina Ceriani Special projects CREATIVE PETALS by Edoardo Perri Unexpected collections THE MUSEUMS OF ST. PETERSBURG by Galina Stolyarova
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Preparing for excellence by Jean-Michel Delisle THE EUROPEAN DAYS, WHERE MÉTIERS D’ART TAKE CENTRE STAGE
Re-turn by Franco Cologni ONLY PASSION GIVES MEANING TO WORK
Made in Art by Ugo La Pietra OLD AND NEW CRAFTSMANSHIP
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ARTISANS OF THE WORD JEAN-MICHEL DELISLE
Engineer, he has managed a century-old company specialised in reﬁned lighting elements for 30 years. He is a member of the Comité Colbert et Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant. He is currently President of the Arts and Crafts National Institute and a member of the Paris Chamber of Commerce.
Grown up in an international environment, spacing from Japan to Finland and Italy, she is a lover of English literature. She lives in Milan, where she has worked in the fashion business for 20 years, specialising in licensing.
After graduating with a degree thesis on the formative years of Carlo Scarpa from IUAV Venice, she continued to study the work of the Venetian architect. She has examined themes on the decorative arts and twentiethcentury Murano glass, publishing studies and taking part in exhibitions on the subject.
A journalist, she has published two guides to Milan’s artisan ateliers, and a guide to the artisan ateliers of Turin. She was awarded the Gabriele Lanfredini prize by Milan’s Chamber of Commerce for her contribution to raising awareness of culture and craftsmanship.
AKEMI OKUMURA ROY
Chief reporter of the St. Petersburg Times, she is a critic of art, opera and ﬁlm. She has written about the most important cultural festivals in Russia and Europe. She works with numerous publications, and is co-author of the Fodor guide to Moscow and St. Petersburg, including the ninth edition published in the USA.
After managing communication for major luxury brands, she left Tokyo and her native Japan to follow her husband, an English photographer, to London, where she is a correspondent for many Japanese media.
LARA LO CALZO
Didactic coordinator of the Civic Violinmakers School of Milan. Member of the Board of the Italian Violinmakers Association, since 2005 she has been the director of Cremona’s Stradivari Foundation. She set up the international Friends of Stradivari network, which has brought 10 historical violins to Cremona.
She loves travelling to Africa and the Caribbean, where she studies traditional dances and rites. After working for several years for Cartier, for whom she organised events in Italy and abroad, she began her writing activity when she translated in Italian The Secrets of Vacheron Constantin.
At a very young age she started to breathe the air of the newspaper trade. She hit the world of women’s magazines and went on to work with tourism publications, before ending up with a deﬁnitive role in the men’s magazine, Monsieur.
Creative director of the Creolo studio and founder of Whomade.it, a consultancy company for avantcraft and designer brands with added human value. Passionate about art and interculture, he reﬁned his conceptual skills at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Holland, and teaches at Eindhoven’s Design Academy.
Editor at Large: Gianluca Tenti Art Director: Francesca Tedoldi Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte Director Alberto Cavalli Editorial Director: Alessandra de Nitto General Organisation: Susanna Ardigò
ARTS & CRAFTS & DESIGN Half-yearly – Year II – Volume 2 April 2013 Editor in Chief and Publisher: Franz Botré Editorial Director: Franco Cologni Creative Director: Ugo La Pietra
Contributors to this issue: Conceição Amaral, Augusto Bassi, Andrea Bertuzzi, Valentina Ceriani, Simona Cesana, Jean-Michel Delisle, Lara Lo Calzo, Giovanna Marchello, Stefania Montani, Akemi Okumura Roy, Edoardo Perri, Luciano Revelli, Carla Sonego, Galina Stolyarova, Juan-Carlos Torres, Virginia Villa.
Translations: Traduko Revision and text adaptation: Giovanna Marchello Images: Cappellini, Cristian Chiodelli, Contrasto, Alberto Ferrero, Pasquale Formisano, John Maybury, Fredi Marcarini, – Kiminasa Naito, Kazuhiko Ohori, Emiliano Ponzi, Laila Pozzo, Oliver Rath, Charlie Xia, Emanuele Zamponi. Arts & Crafts & Design is a project by Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte Via Lovanio, 5 – 20121 Milan www.fondazionecologni.it © Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte. All rights reserved. Original manuscripts and photos will not be returned, even if unpublished. Texts and images cannot be reproduced, even partially.
Half-yearly magazine by Swan Group srl Editing and production: via Francesco Ferrucci 2 20145 Milan Phone: +39 02.3180891 firstname.lastname@example.org
SWAN GROUP PUBBLICITÀ Via Francesco Ferrucci 2 20145 Milan Phone: +39 02.3180891
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© DIDIER HERMAN
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Preparing for excellence
sle* i l e D ichel M Jean
THE EUROPEAN DAYS, WHERE MÉTIERS D’ART TAKE CENTRE STAGE France sets the example: how tradition can interact with innovation and ingenious contemporary creativity. An invitation to lead into the future the traditional values that have made our wonderful history
The annual event of the European Art and Craft Profession Days is an opportunity for an ever-wider public to meet actors, artists, sorcerers and artisans. Characters who have made their childhood dream come true: to turn their job into an art. More than a job, the métier d’art is a lifestyle and an attitude, a commitment towards matter, to transform and exalt it, to restore, preserve and innovate. A way of bettering oneself by creating something meaningful and sharing it with our society. But the professionals who have chosen to turn this perspective into a full-time career, to which they have dedicated countless hours, are not acknowledged, and tend to remain in the background. Yet the very attributes of vitality, authenticity and durability of their handicrafts make these professions more essential than ever in the preservation of a certain balance within our territories, for the quality of life and work opportunities they provide, be it in the heart of the cities or in the countryside, in France or abroad. The opportunity to focus on these activities is provided by the 2013 edition of the European Art and Craft Profession Days, the purpose of which is to bring attention to a sector that, though little known, is nevertheless a resource for our economic and cultural heritage, and to propose a new way of looking at it. The programme of events provides an opportunity to raise awareness on the present situation of these professions: for three days, it will be possible to enjoy the hitherto unseen exhibition of a constellation of rare artistic crafts. Precious materials will be reinvented by the exceptional skills of big names and upcoming talents, who wish to break onto the French and European scene. On the 5th, 6th and 7th of April, we aim to create a treasure chest of these wonderful works, conceived and produced by two hands, one heart and a soul. An event that will reﬂect the contemporary evolution of these crafts, and the role they
play in society: creative, on the move, resolutely pointing towards the future, where tradition interacts with innovation and ingenious contemporary creativity. In France, for the ﬁrst time, these days have a national theme: “The métiers d’art take centre stage”. This will be an occasion for each region to showcase its own métiers d’art and local peculiarities through a variety of events, with visits to ateliers, city tours, exhibitions and fairs, workshops, conferences and shows in the settings provided by museums, cultural centres and prestigious locations. On a European level, Italy was the ﬁrst to cooperate with us: in Milan thanks to the support of the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art, in Tuscany with the OMA (the Observatory of artistic crafts) and the Artex association. Italy was followed by Spain, Latvia and Hungary, along with individual cities, such as London and Geneva, and entire provinces, like the region of Liège. Objectives were reached thanks to the patronage of the manufacture Vacheron Constantin, which has once again placed its faith in us. More than a media operation, the Days provide an outstanding way of generating economic and territorial development in France and Europe. The Days open up the way, they offer a path and a scenario, to learn where the métiers d’art come from, and make us reﬂect on what they have contributed in terms of history, heritage and culture. They help us understand what they create and what they involve: an economic activity to be developed on an international level, a formidable laboratory for experimentation, innovation and industrial production. To share and give a voice to what they proclaim: the trust of a generation of new entrepreneurs, artisans and creators in a new economic and social development. On a stage that will never be big enough for such exceptional and sensible talents.
* Jean-Michel Delisle is the President of the Institut National des Métiers d’Art (www.institut-metiersdart.org)
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Made in Art
fied b y
Ugo L a Pie tra
OLD AND NEW CRAFTSMANSHIP Whether metropolitan or technological, it still remains the highest form of expression of the true “culture of savoir faire”. Schools tend to concentrate on design, but what is really needed is practice
I watch the old potter as he proudly places the small vase he has just ﬁnished shaping on the shelf, along with the other pieces that are ready for ﬁring. He has spent all his life making pottery, and considers himself an accomplished artist. He has created objects with his own hands, his skill increasing with practice, and over the course of time he achieved a conﬁdent, familiar relationship with the technique. He has displayed his best works in his atelier, in the window looking out onto the street, and in the summer, when the kiln is too hot to work, he has always remained behind the window, arranging his collection on the shelves, waiting… I watch the old potter and wonder for how many generations he and all those who came before him have devoted their work and passion to sustaining this «small business». Because his atelier was indeed a small business, where design, production, communication and trading expressed the four basic characteristics of his work. A business which he managed to expand and enrich over time, also thanks to the presence of young apprentices from the art institute of his city. Nowadays, an atelier like this can no longer remain in business: art institute workshops have disappeared, atelier assistants are increasingly rare and inexperienced, the designs are dull and hackneyed and no external partnership is able to revive them, and customers don’t even stop to look in the window anymore. When the old potter was younger, he rented small display windows during the Milan Salone Internazionale del Mobile, because he wanted to measure his work against the world of design. But nobody took him seriously, in spite of the fact that his vases were as beautiful as the ones coming from northern
Europe, because they were unique pieces, and the world of industrial design rejected their «alien» nature. Today, design is rediscovering craftsmanship, be it the one-off or the limited edition. Yet it looks to the future and feels no remorse towards the old universe of craftsmanship, impoverished by decades of ostracism and economic difﬁculties. Nowadays, the artisan has come to represent diverse, high-quality production, yet none of the schools (that no longer have workshops) make agreements with the surviving ateliers to allow the students to see and experiment «how things are done!».
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Today craftsmen are called metropolitan artisans when they use non-traditional materials and technological artisans when they use computer-aided technologies; yet nobody is any longer concerned about saving the «culture of making things»: a competence that requires a prolonged and daily manual practice. Where are the schools that invite pupils to learn how to play a musical instrument, or that organise workshops where students can learn how to make an object, a wall, a wooden bench or, why not, perform a small “cire perdue” casting? Why is it that in the last sixty years, no professor in architectural design has taken his students to the worksite, to see how houses are actually built? Unfortunately, Italian schools continue to promote the culture of designing rather than the culture of making, although many design universities have recently introduced lessons in self-production. A new discipline? Perhaps! Yet it is a new discipline that fails (or perhaps refuses) to acknowledge the production models that came before it, like the artisan ateliers that still exist, scattered around Italy.
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by Stefania Montani
Workshops Books Awards Initiatives Fairs Shows
ALBUM PAOLA NAPOLEONE
A childhood passion for drawing and a degree in history of art. Then, in the atelier of a friend, came the fortuitous encounter with abat-jours; it was a spark that lit a ﬁre. Today, Paola Picchiotti Napoleone is one of the most outstanding creators of lampshades: she conceives them, designs them
on paper or computer and constructs them, cutting out the shapes on cardboard and then sewing the fabrics, one by one. She often also designs the lamp stalks, using a wide variety of materials. Her atelier-room in the heart of Rome is spotlessly tidy (“because I can’t work in a mess”) and is home to drums, coloured cardboard, reels of thread in thousands of colours, unusual fabrics such as Indian silk, art nouveau designs, textiles with gold and silver threads, which she collects in her travels around the world. From her travelling come also inspirations for the highly original shapes of her “hats”, which her curiosity captures and elaborates. She has always been fascinated by architecture, which often emerges in the forms and volumes of her lampshades. To give a warmer and more diffused light, Paola Napoleone uses double layers of fabric for the lining. Her lampshades are oneoff pieces that combine sculpture with craftsmanship. By appointment only. www.paolanapoleone.it
ALBUM workshops FABIEN CAPPELLO London, 3-9 Belfast Road Fabien Cappello is a young furniture maker and designer with an international background: born in Paris, he studied in Switzerland and went on to specialise in England, where he now lives and works. He graduated from London’s Royal College of Art and won a prize with his “Christmas Tree Project”, in which abandoned trees were regenerated into stools. His London studio is a vast Lshaped space with huge windows and a large table where he draws, works on his computer and creates his projects. One is totally fascinated by the striking joy and creativity that emerge from the objects presented on his website: all are innovative, and he likes to use a wide variety of materials. Using corrugated recycled plastic sheets, for example, he created a shelving system and movable room partitions, which were presented at an exhibition in Japan. Cappello loves to create structures in plastic because the translucency and luminosity of the material makes the objects appear to ﬂoat in the air. One of his most recent projects is the Planter Tower, a system of accessories that can be ﬁtted to plant pots in order to stack them, creating a green tower. His projects range from limited editions, industrial products and public installations. www.fabiencappello.com
LA VERRERIE DE BIOT Biot, France, Chemin des Combes A gem of craftsmanship is preserved in the small village of Biot, in Provence: hand-blown “bubbled glass”. This particular technique, developed from an initial defect, became the company hallmark in 1956: the master glassmakers imprison microscopic air bubbles between two layers of glass silica paste. With great skill, the artisans (around ﬁfteen) produce glasses, jugs and chandeliers in a variety of models (approximately 300), in colours ranging from indigo blue to amethyst purple, sandy pink, emerald green, ochre and turquoise. It is a ritual that recalls the ancient technique of hand-blown glass and, as if by magic, produces forms that are always unique and unrepeatable. Today, the small family business run by siblings Anne and Serge Lechaczynski has started to attract tourists and students, with schools bringing pupils to admire the secrets of glassmaking. Next to the glassworks is the interesting Glass Gallery; opened in 1977, it displays unique pieces by b artisan artists. In addition to the permanent pe event of The exhibition is the annual eve Verriales, held on the ﬁrst Friday of July, featuring the works in glass of 30 artists, from young talents talen to successful masters of the craft. www.verreriebiot.com
LISA FARMER, PROCESS 4 Milano, via Procaccini 4 Graphic designer and artist Lisa Farmer is well-known in Italy and abroad. She expresses her playful creativity in the prototypes and the unique pieces, often inspired by the world of nature, which she personally creates by hand. Born and raised in North Carolina, where she studied Visual Communication, she worked as a graphic designer for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Upon arriving in Italy, she started working with De Lucchi on a number of projects. Her clients also include Mandarina Duck, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome, San Pellegrino and Saporiti. She settled down in Milan in 2000, where she obtained a workshop inside the Fabbrica del Vapore. She tirelessly experiments new techniques for drawing on different materials. Among her creations are the original tapestry headboards, modules that can be assembled in different ways, resulting in different designs according to how they are arranged. Then there are aeroplane lamps, arabesque curtains made of paper and plastic, and felt hats and capes. Her sculpture-bags in the shapes of ﬁsh, beetles and ladybirds are particularly remarkable: a collection of unique pieces made entirely by hand. She has won numerous awards both in Italy and abroad, taught at St. Martin’s School of Arts in London, and has also taken part in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s exhibition “The Power of Making”. www.lisafarmer.com
GUZZINI. INFINITE ITALIAN DESIGN by Moreno Gentili, published by Skira, Italian/English edition To mark 100 years of creativity and innovation, Guzzini is celebrating its anniversary with a book that describes the company’s productive history in the name of design. This captivating volume condenses a succession of big names and stars, past and present, of Italian and international design, industry and communication.
BOTTEGA VENETA by Tomas Maier, published by Rizzoli, English, Italian, French and German Tomas Maier, creative director of Bottega Veneta, is a designer with a passion for museums and rare books. In collaboration with designer Sam Shahid and the contribution of leading fashion journalists, he illustrates the story of the Italian Maison established in 1966 in this reﬁned monography edited by Bottega Veneta.
LE ESPOSIZIONI UNIVERSALI. I mestieri d’arte sulla scena del mondo (1851-2010)
LARA LARSSON VAN WASSENAER Amsterdam, Gietersstraat 21 She is a young and brilliant art restorer from Amsterdam, well-known to all the main auction houses and to visitors of the Maastricht fair, who often entrust damaged canvases and panels to her care. Her atelier is located in a charming attic in the most bohemian part of the city, the Jordaan neighbourhood. Here, under her supervision, seven experts examine paintings using all sorts of equipment, ranging from a binocular microscope connected to a monitor to instruments for chemical tests. All the phases involved in restoration and lining are carried out in this workshop (either traditionally, with natural glues and plaster paste, or with a low pressure board) and they include cleaning and consolidation of canvases, colours and frames. Thanks to the many schools and post-graduate courses she has attended in Europe (Florence, Vienna, London), Lara has investigated speciﬁc approaches to paintings from different periods: from gold backgrounds to frescoes, from the Flemish painters to the Italian Renaissance, from the eighteenth century to Impressionism, right down to contemporary works. All of which she restores with great competence. www.ateliervanwassenaer.nl
by Paolo Colombo, published by Marsilio From Britain’s Great Exhibition of 1851 to the futuristic architecture of Shanghai 2010: this beautifully illustrated volume, curated by Paolo Colombo, provides a historical overview of the relationship between crafts and progress, and the artistic and economic value of the unique expressive force of craftsmanship.
FARE L’AUTOMOBILE Published by Marsilio-Cologni Foundation by Mario Favilla, photographs by Aldo Agnelli Hot off the press, the book tells the story, through 14 extraordinary interviews, of the insights of Italian car designers, who have contributed towards the success of the world’s biggest car manufacturers, from Audi to Mercedes, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, Fiat and Toyota. From the 1920s to the present day.
COMICS SKETCHBOOKS The Unseen World of Today’s Most Creative Talents Steven Heller, published by Thames & Hudson With 700 illustrations, 350 of which in colour, the volume collects the works of more than eighty leading and emerging artists in the world of comic books. Author and editor of over one hundred books on drawing and popular culture, Steven Heller is co-chair of Mfa Design at the New York School of Visual Arts.
HANDMADE IN BRITAIN Jo Norman, V&A Publishing Published by the V&A Museum and the BBC, the book explores the history of handmade products, from traditional craftsmanship to more modern techniques. From the Renaissance, when Britain was one of the biggest importers of “luxury goods”, to the late 19th century and the present day.
THE IMPOSSIBLE COLLECTION OF JEWELRY Vivien Becker, Assouline’s Ultimate Collection An overview of the most spectacular jewellery collections of the 20th century, from Art Nouveau jewels to Verdura’s designs for Chanel, from Cartier’s imaginative designs of Egyptian Art Déco inspiration to the reﬁned creations of De Beer, Van Cleef & Arpels and Graff. Right up to the modern wonders of cutting-edge design.
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CLERKENWELL DESIGN WEEK London, 21-23 May International designers, architects and creative names will all be attending this event, that is more than an exhibition - with over 60 showrooms - and boasts a packed schedule of meetings and conferences. A big festival held in Clerkenwell which will include shows, installations, conferences, street entertainment, workshops in an exciting calendar of events. www.clerkenwelldesignweek.com 100% DESIGN London, Earl’s Court 18-21 September An entire London neighbourhood comes to life to take part in this event dedicated to design furniture for home and garden, kitchen and bathroom by designers and emerging brands. World famous icons of architecture and design will present their works and hold seminars in the exhibition’s pavillions. www.100percentdesign.co.uk
IL SALONE DEL MOBILE Milan, 9-14 April Now at its 52nd edition, the Salone will take place at the Rho-Pero fair grounds, with admission reserved to professionals, exhibitors and journalists until Saturday. On Sunday, the exhibition will be open to the public. Organised by Cosmit, the fair is the world’s largest event in this sector. This year, the chosen theme is “The world we will live in”. Architect Jean Nouvel developed the “Project: ofﬁce for living” dedicated to the Ofﬁce, not just as a working space but also as the place where private life and professional environment
instruments capital. This important appointment will bring together in Cremona the ﬁnest master luthiers, international buyers and dealers along with top-ﬂight and amateur musicians and students. Like every year, Mondomusica organises a programme of concerts, presentations, seminars and master classes with stars of the international music scene. There will be no shortage of conferences on themes of great interest, such as musical education and the evolution of liturgical music, not to mention technical and scientiﬁc seminars dedicated to luthiers and specialised academics. Cremona Pianoforti will also be held at the same time, with many performances by great pianists. www.cremonamondomusica.it merge, with a new vision of lifestyle models, research into new materials and technologies to create comfortable, efﬁcient solutions that respect man and his environment. Another “must” at the Fair is the event curated by Interni, which will be opening its doors on 9 April with the Hibrid/metissage Architecture & Design event, set inside the cloisters of Milan’s Università Statale; in the Fair’s Fuori Salone fringe events (in which the businesses that normally operate in these neighbourhoods will be involved) the circuits of VenturaLambrate, Brera Design District, Duroni, San Babila and Tortona Area are worth noting. www.salonedelmobile.it MONDOMUSICA CremonaFiere, 27-29 September The ﬁnest handcrafted musical instruments in the world’s stringed 1
ARTIGIANATO E PALAZZO Florence, Palazzo Corsini, 16-19 May For the nineteenth edition of Artigianato e Palazzo, the opening days and hours will be extended, to enable the public to admire the skill of the craftsmen that will again gather here to show and promote the tradition of everything that is made by hand. The event will feature live craft demonstrations with iron, glass, wood, textiles, stone and precious metals. The event will be open from 10 am to 8.30 pm, and exceptionally until 10.30 pm on Friday and Saturday. www.artigianatoepalazzo.it ART – MOSTRA MERCATO DELL’ARTIGIANATO Florence, Fortezza da Basso 20-28 April Artisans, Angels of beauty. This is the slogan of the ﬁrst International Handicrafts Trade Fair, dedicated to unique pieces, modelled by the skilled hands of craftsmen from different sectors who will all be displaying their products. From classic to modern, from ethnic to contemporary, along with the most innovative, and at times bizarre, creations by the experienced hands of master artists from Italy and from the whole world. There will be a sizeable presence representing Florence’s traditional ancient workshops. www.mostraartigianato.it
ALBUMawards initiatives ARTÒ Turin, Lingotto Fiere 8-10 November Dedicated to local and national craftsmanship, the Fair is addressed to all areas and categories of artisan activities. High quality products will be exhibited, exclusive objects created using production techniques and materials that are closely bound to local culture and tradition. There will be no shortage of curious and special objects dedicated to textiles, furniture, clothing and decorations. www.ar-to.it
SALONE NAUTICO INTERNAZIONALE Genoa, 2-6 October The International Boat Show is an event followed by the entire boating industry, which presents the most important previews of power boats, sailing boats and pneumatic vessels to the market. Special attention is also paid to accessory businesses: technical apparel and sportswear, ﬁshing equipment, nautical tourism and services. www.ﬁera.ge.it
2) Mao Casa, Furniture for the home Fiera di Roma, 28 April-6 May 3) Mostra d’Oltremare: Fiera della casa/Home show Fiera di Napoli, 16-24 June
5) Macef Fiera di Milano, 5-8 September 6) Abitare il tempo/Trade Fair for the Interior Design Industry Verona, Polo Fieristico, 20-23 October 7) MidEast Watch and Jewellery Show Expo Centre Sharjah, United Arab Emirates 26-30 March
L’EDITO A positive initiative to help young designers produce made-to-measure furniture, using wood from European forests and adopting an environmentally sustainable approach. Set up in March 2010, L’Edito invites designers to coproduce a project, contributing towards the ones that L’Edito selects and markets on-line. The sum (between Euro 1,000 and 5,000) enables the company to carry out technical studies with the designer, build prototypes and support its marketing activities. www.ledito.com ADI DESIGN INDEX 2013 Every year the ADI Design Index collects the very best of Italian design put into production, selected by the Design Permanent Observatory. The published products compete for the ADI Design Innovation Award, and the winners receive the National Award for Innovation called the “Prize of Prizes”, established by authorisation of the President of the Italian Republic at the Fondazione Cotec. www.adi-design.org
OTHER APPOINTMENTS 1) Fuoriserie, Old Cars show Fiera di Roma, 21-22 April
4) Vicenza Oro, About Jewellery, About J Vicenza Fiera, 4-7 September
The museum houses a 450-seat Auditorium designed by Yasuhisa Toyota. Thanks to its outstanding acoustics, it is also used as a recording studio. www.museodelviolino.org LES TALENTS DU LUXE ET DE LA CRÉATION Until 30 June, all the world’s designers, artisans, creators and innovators will have time to send their application to a competition that rewards the most innovative talents in the ﬁeld of fashion, jewellery, design, architecture, gastronomy, cosmetics, gardens, cars and the métiers d’art. The winners will be announced on 25 November 2013. The Cologni Foundation will take part in selecting the masters. www.centreduluxe.com 1
IL MUSEO DEL VIOLINO The Museum of the Violin opens in Cremona, inside the magniﬁcent Palazzo dell’Arte, renovated thanks to the Arvedi Buschini Foundation. The museum outlines the history and methods used to make stringed instruments, and the stories of Cremona’s most important violinmaking dynasties. Stradivari’s city boasts a treasure of precious instruments belonging to the great masters, instruments that have won competitions and priceless relics from the workshop of Antonio Stradivari, donated to the city of Cremona in 1933 by violinmaker Giuseppe Fiorini.
ALBUM shows THE NEW ITALIAN DESIGN Bilbao, Alhóndiga Milan, Triennale Until 5 May The Triennale Design Museum is presenting an exhibition entitled “The New Italian Design 2.0” in the venue of the Alhóndiga exhibition centre of Bilbao (originally a wine warehouse, renovated by Philippe Starck): a reconnaissance of contemporary Italian design documenting its transformations and ties with the economic, political and technological changes of the twentieth century. The exhibition showcases 282 projects, of which 165 dedicated to product design, 30 to graphics, 54 to jewellery, bags and accessories, 14 to research, 14 to food design and 5 to interior design. www.triennale.it LUXURY AND ELEGANCE. FRENCH PORCELAIN AT COURT AND THE GINORI MANUFACTORY Florence, Museo degli Argenti 19 marzo-23 June To mark the 40th anniversary of the inauguration of the Porcelain Museum in Palazzo Pitti, the Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze and the Associazione Amici di Doccia have organised an exhibition that highlights the important collection of Palazzo Pitti’s museum. At the same
time it showcases the Doccia Manufactury’s production from the period of Napoleonic rule to the restoration of the House of Lorraine (1800-1830). www.polomuseale.ﬁrenze.it
muslins by Ferragamo and Marcello Piacentini’s chairs. www.mostranovecento.it 1
PAESAGGIO ITALIA Venice, Palazzo Franchetti . Until 2 May Sponsored by the Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti and curated by Benedetta Donato, this major exhibition dedicated to photographer Maurizio Galimberti (an “artisan” of vision, as he likes to deﬁne himself ), presents a summary of his work in over 150 images. It rediscovers and tells the story of Italy and the places to which he is particularly attached. Through his work he continues and reﬁnes his personal experimentation which started in the early ‘90s. The itinerary of this original Gran Tour is included also in the catalogue of the exhibition, published by Marsilio. www.palazzofranchetti.it
MAK, AUSTRIAN MUSEUM OF APPLIED ARTS Vienna, Stubenring 5 Within the process of renewal and renovation it is undergoing, since last November the MAK has devoted newly designed galleries to the exhibition entitled “Vienna 1900”, dedicated to Viennese arts and crafts between 1890 and 1938. Exhibits range from the curved wooden Thonet chairs to various types of upholstered Biedermeier chairs and sofas, a style that is considered the cradle of design for its clear, simple lines. The Wiener Werkstätte, founded in 1903 by Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser, is renowned for the quality and originality of its glass, porcelain, silver and textile objects, also on display. A new permanent collection is dedicated to Asia, with Chinese porcelains, Japanese lacquer works, coloured woodcuts and printing stencils. Works by Donald Judd, James Turrell and Franz West illustrate contemporary creativity. www.mak.at
FORTUNY AND WAGNER. THE INFLUENCE OF “WAGNERISM” ON ITALIAN VISUAL ARTS Venice, the Fortuny Museum Until 8 April A major exhibition at Palazzo Fortuny celebrates the bicentenary of Richard Wagner’s birth (Leipzig, 1813-Venezia, 1883). The result of a long research on the iconographic and aesthetic inﬂuence that both the German composer and the phenomenon of “Wagnerism” had on visual arts in Italy between the late nineteenth century and ﬁrst decades of the twentieth. The maquette of the Bayreuth Theatre will also be on display; made by Fortuny in 1903, it was recently restored by the Venice Foundation. www.fortuny.visitmuve.it NOVECENTO: ARTE E VITA IN ITALIA TRA LE DUE GUERRE Forlì, Musei San Domenico Until 16 June Paintings and architecture, furniture and fashion come together in an all-embracing exhibition that portrays life and art in Italy between 1914 and 1943. With paintings by Sironi, de Chirico, Oppi, Donghi and Boccioni to shoes, silks, velvets and
BOTTONE ARTE E MODA Ciliverghe di Mazzano (Bs) Museo Mazzucchelli. Until 20 April A journey through fashion and lifestyle, with no less than ten thousand buttons on display, ranging from the 17th century up to the jewel buttons of Chanel, Lanvin, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Versace. Stunning 18th-century specimens in ivory, silk and paper and 19th-century metal buttons that reproduce the city’s architecture. The exhibition is curated by Franco Jacassi, proprietor of the collection. www.museimazzucchelli.it
TREASURES OF THE ROYAL COURTS London, Victoria & Albert Museum 9 March-14 July From Henry VIII to Elizabeth I and Ivan the Terrible and the Romanovs. From royal portraits to sumptuous ceremonial outﬁts, from suits of armour to weapons, from extraordinary jewellery to silverware. The exhibition documents not only customs and costumes of the period, but also the his-
MUSÉE DES ARTS DÉCORATIFS Paris, 3 exhibitions: Borrowing To Invent Paul Bonifas revisited by Philippe Barde 21 March-18 August A collection of ceramic works by the Swiss master Philippe Barde in a tribute to his renowned fellow countryman and ceramist Paul Bonifas, who was active in the ’30s. The artist also used the original moulds of his predecessor as the departure point for his new creations. Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec 25 April-1 September Under a surreal textile vault in the vast nave measuring one thousand square metres, a retrospective of all the works produced over the last 15 years by brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for the biggest names in the furniture industry, including mobile partitions and screens, “Lit Clos” beds, sofas. All in an evocative setting.
tory of diplomacy between two great and powerful nations over the course of 500 years, covering over 150 items. www.vam.ac.uk 125 YEARS OF MAKK Cologne, 15-16 June Cologne’s MAKK, the Museum of Applied Arts, is turning 125. The city’s second oldest museum was founded as a result of a public initiative in 1888. The historical collections gather together 800 years of applied art history, with furniture, textiles and clothing, works in metal, porcelain, ceramic and glass, not to mention art books, posters, paintings and sculptures, and a collection of jewellery covering 5,000 years of history. To celebrate the anniversary, the museum is dedicating ﬁve new exhibitions to treasures form its own collections: contemporary design, German ceramics, jewellery, graphics and applied art from private collections. On the weekend of 15 and 16 June, the Museum will be opening its doors free of charge, organising an extensive programme of events for its visitors. www.museenkoeln.de
Behind the seams. An indiscreet look at the mechanics of fashion 4 July-24 November All the most elaborate and ingen-
ious devices designed to enhance the effect of men’s and women’s outﬁts between the 14th and 19th centuries. Undergarments ranging from whalebone devices to painfully tight corsets, from cushions to skirt panniers, the show displays every conceivable artiﬁce devised to meet the ideal of beauty of the time. www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr WEAR IT OR NOT RECENT JEWELRY ACQUISITIONS (2008-2013) New York, Museum Art Design 12 March-2 June Over the past ﬁve years, MAD has collected nearly 200 extraordinary pieces of jewellery from various parts of the world. Until June, the exhibition will showcase jewels by famous designers and artists, ranging from classic designs of the ’50s to contemporary computerdesigned pieces. The exhibition also explores different manufacturing techniques, including digital production, and the most uncommon materials. www.madmuseum.org DESIGN ITALIANO Milan, Triennale 6 April-February 2014 Sixth edition of the History of Italian Design and the contaminations from international design. For 2013, Silvana Annicchiarico has assigned the analysis of these exchanges and inﬂuxes to Pierluigi Nicolin, with a tour comprising three main stages: tributes to ten Masters; a focus on the ’70s, which marked a change in the discipline paradigm; and an analysis of the change in brands and companies from the ’80s to the present day. Set-up by Pierluigi Cerri. www.triennale.it
MAN AT THE CENTRE OF ART This page, “Angel Falls”, a crystal chandelier with a cascade of miniature handcrafted men in blown glass. Opposite page, “Struzza” chair, limited edition of eight pieces, made in Italy by F.lli Bofﬁ (Lentate sul Seveso).
MaĂŽtres of design
He designs interiors, stages exhibitions and creates sinuous objects of anthropomorphic inspiration. For Nigel Coates, the human body is an instrument that expresses its beauty when it breaks the boundaries of ordinary behaviour. Yet it must never be used as a vehicle for vulgar messages
by Ugo La Pietra
A SENSUAL AND ELEGANT
32 The city is a living organism, popular culture should be the focus of architecture
N SENSUALITY AS A SOURCE OF ENERGY Top, “Picaresque”, an installation produced for the exhibition “Kama. Sex and design”, Triennale di Milano, 2012 (photo by John Maybury). Opposite page, interior design by Nigel Coates.
Nigel Coates is a celebrated designer who has constructed his fame and reputation on a rich and complex narrative journey expressed in designs chieﬂy based on people’s everyday experiences. Nigel Coates sees the city as a living organism, and places experience and popular culture at the heart of architecture. He has conceived sinuous objects of anthropomorphic inspiration, designed interiors, exhibitions and projects for buildings all over the world; in Italy he is known above all for the objects produced for Alessi, AV Mezzega, Ceramiche Bardelli, Fratelli Bofﬁ, Poltronova, Slamp and Varaschin. QUESTION: Nigel Coates, how would you describe your relationship with Italian industry? ANSWER: Long, intense and challenging. After a period I spent working in Japan, some Italian friends asked me to come up with a collection of furniture. It involved designing for Poltronova, a well-known company based near Florence. We made some beautiful pieces, and I realised how important it is for Italian companies to face challenges with pride and courage. None of my proposals seemed too difﬁcult, though we had to work hard to obtain the desired effect. Now I cooperate with several Italian companies, and in each of them I ﬁnd a know-how, an experience, that combines craftsmanship with industrial production. I believe that Italian companies have the right approach to solving every problem that arises during the de-
sign or production phase. In recent years, I have increased my collaboration with Poltronova, and we have concentrated in particular on handcrafted limited editions, designs that are full of life and movement. Q: How did you manage to maintain an artistic approach to your projects, merging it with an artisanal know-how? A: Some projects are obviously designed for a commercial purpose, and so the company has a clear idea of how to go about things and what it wants to produce. But at times the commercial objective is reached in a different, unusual way, with more sentiment, which is where the artistic approach emerges. But I am not an artist, I do not produce my work personally. Being an architect, I work with a team, and when there is a special project to be made, I work in close contact with craftsmen. For example, I worked with the same family of carpenters to produce all the objects in wood I designed for Poltronova. They know my language and understand exactly what I’m looking for, and they are incredibly skilled and accurate when it comes to making the most of all the natural curves and veins of the wood. Q: Which of your works is most inspired by rural life and the farming culture? A: The ﬁrst collection I designed for Poltronova was inspired by my experience of the Tuscan countryside. Years ago I bought a house in the Siena area, and I still have it. In it I found farmer’s tools made of wood, they were all very worn
MaĂŽtres of design
34 In my works I express the fragility and precariousness which we constantly play with in life
WE NEED TO RECOGNISE OURSELVES IN OBJECTS Right, “Buttoned-up” sofa made in Italy by F.lli Boffi (Lentate sul Seveso) in a limited edition of 12 pieces. Below, Nigel Coates, portrait by Guillaume De Laubier.
out and deformed by years of daily use. I wanted to reproduce this very quality in new objects, and after a fair amount of experimenting I succeeded. I found a way to narrate both the object’s appearance and the way it is made. Q: You have a British background, yet in your work we often ﬁnd more or less explicit references to Carlo Mollino and Gio Ponti. Why is that? A: Probably because I am a hybrid between my upbringing in England and my academic experience in Italy, when I was studying architecture. As a young boy, distant and exotic places always appealed to me. Italy is not in the least bit exotic now, but it is full of culture, not only in its most elevated sense but also in simple, everyday life. I believe Mollino and Ponti worked in a similar way. I think they had a futuristic vision, but they knew how to apply it by using every means at their disposal. Like me, they saw movement and rhythm, geometry and sensuality. They thought their soul could affect the way in which they expressed themselves. Q: Your works are often characterised by a component of discord and precariousness, how do you reconcile this position with your respect and attention for the human body? A: In spite of the fact that the human body is perfect and harmonious, it is always in movement and in a physical tension. The body is an instrument which expresses its beauty when it breaks the boundaries of
ordinary behaviour. You can see it in athletes, but it also happens to each of us, every day. We constantly play with our fragility and precariousness, and I want to transfer this sentiment to the objects I design. My aim is to ensure that a part of us is instantly recognisable in the object; this happens, in part, with all furniture, but I always try to put more emphasis on these elements. Q: We can see your latest undertaking in your installation inside the exhibition entitled “Kama. Sex and design” at the Triennale di Milano. This is not the ﬁrst time that your works are inspired by the “sensual object”. Could you tell us how, in this particular work, you developed the theories and attitudes you had already previously expressed? A: An important aspect of the “Kama” exhibition is that it is never vulgar. In fact it presents sex as a natural aspect of our existence and of the world we live in. I would like to infuse the same energy into my creations, and sex is a type of energy. It’s true that this is a recurring theme in my work, but every time I explore it from a fresh, different angle. In this installation, I attempted to combine objects that represent an identity in which a desiring body is blended with an artistic eye. I drew on the works of Caravaggio and Francis Bacon for inspiration, observing the ﬁgures with passion and depth, so as to combine emotion and physicality. Bacon called this characteristic puissance. And I would like to express the same thing.
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A heritage OF CULTURE and beauty JAPAN WAS THE FIRST COUNTRY TO PASS A LAW FOR THE PROTECTION OF CULTURAL PROPERTIES, GREAT MASTERS LIKE KAZUMI MUROSE
by Akemi Okumura Roy photos by Kiminasa Naito
Kazumi Murose inherited this old toolbox from his father, himself an Urushi artist.
E c c e lLl ei vn izne g d tarl e m a sounrde os
This page, sprinkling gold powder. Opposite page, clockwise, drawing with Urushi; the hollow shaft of a pelicanâ€™s feather is used to sprinkle powder; gold powder is introduced in the shaft. Centre, "Utage" (Banquet). Box with maki-e and mother-of-pearl inlay, 2009. From the 56th Japanese Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition. _ Photo: Kazuhiko Ohori
In Japan, tradition has always been conCulture, Sports, Science and Technology sidered as important as progress. One through its Agency for Cultural Affairs. cannot exist without the other. Japan The government also provides a special was the first country in the world to annual grant of two million yen to indiviJJAPAN'S APAN'S 114 construct an entire network dedicated dual holders. Up to a total of 116 Living LIVING NATIONAL to the Shinkansen, the famous “bullet National Treasures can be ordained by TREASURES trains” that whizz incessantly between law in both performing arts and crafts, bustling futuristic cities where hundreds and at this moment there are 114. Each PRESERVE of department stores still dedicate entire category is organised into a number of ITS CULTURAL ﬂoors to kimonos and products of tradispeciﬁc subcategories. For performing HERITAGE tional Japanese craft. The Kabuki theatre arts: Nohgaku (classical musical drama), and Sumo wrestling are still very popular Gagaku (ancient imperial court music in the cradle of modern technology. The and dances), Bunraku (puppet theaorigin of manga is older and nobler than tre), Kabuki (traditional musical drama what the average Western fan can imagine and the history of performed only by male actors), Kumi Odori (a narrative Japan is committed to advanced digital technology as much dance), Engei (storytelling), Music and Dance. For crafts: as to Ukiyo-e, the traditional woodblock printing technique. Ceramics, Textiles, Urushi ( Japanese natural lacquer work), In Japan, the old and the ancient represent wisdom, not Metalwork, Woodwork, Doll making, Papermaking. only tradition. In 1950 the Japanese government passed a Urushi artist Kazumi Murose is a Living National Treaspioneering Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, ure, designated an important intangible cultural property in which it acknowledged the intangible value of living for “Maki-e” technique in 2008. Murose is making a great culture and put it on the same level of monuments, sites effort to preserve this speciﬁc traditional craftsmanship. He and artefacts. Which is how Japan came about creating the explains that Urushi is the name of the sap that ﬂows from institution of ”Preservers of Important Intangible Cultural the Urushi tree, itself becoming more and more rare like the Properties”, more commonly known as Living National artists that master this ancient and delicate craft. He would Treasures (Ningen Kokuho in Japanese), who have special like this art to be know as Urushi because the English term artistic skills and techniques (Waza in Japanese) in performlacquerware is not an accurate translation, whereas Urushi ing arts and crafts and who, as individuals or groups, have is alive and strong and beautiful. Born in 1950, it was very achieved a superior level of mastery in particular skills of the natural for Kazumi Murose to become a master of this diJapanese tradition. Living National Treasures are ofﬁcially scipline having learned the technique from his father, who designated and protected by Japan’s Ministry of Education, was also an Urushi artist. Murose graduated with an M.A.
This page, Kazumi Murose draws with Urushi. Opposite page, clockwise, Urushi is squeezed to remove dust; steam bath where Urushi solidifies with humidity; brushes. Centre, â€œSaiko" (Lighting), octagonal box with maki-e and mother-of-pearl inlay, 2000. Excellence Award of the Governor of Tokyo. From the 47th Japanese Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition. Property of the Agency for Cultural Affairs. _ Photo: Kazuhiko Ohori
from the Fine Arts Research Department ago. So, believes Murose, you can learn at Tokyo University of the Arts, specialimore, and more rapidly, from the lessons sing in Urushi Arts. of the past, assimilating skills in an enKazumi Murose says that the source of joyable way and at the same time conCOULD “I C OULD GO GO his passion is Urushi itself. He has dediveying wisdom to the new generations. WITHOUT SLEEP, cated all his life to Urushi, captivated by “It is important not to mimic the old JUST TO its charm, seeking to make it come alive expressions. We should add new design, and desiring to make people understand new energy and new creativity into old KEEP MAKING AND its beauty and characteristics. His big things, which is the essence of Japanese WORKING concern is how to pass on his Waza to tradition. Urushi is a living art that has WITH URUSHI” future generations. Murose thinks that existed for more than 900 years. When the biggest difﬁculty he has to face is not you restore a thousand-year-old artefact, having enough time, as he is dedicated to you can see the progress of technology restoration activities during the day and through Urushi. From specimens of each creative activities in the evening. However, Murose says he era, you can learn the work that is not transmitted, technowould go without sleep, just to keep making and working logy, materials and so forth. It is a silent teacher. What you with Urushi, which is the source of all his happiness. get from it is inﬁnite. It is also great fun.” When he turned forty, in 1991, he established the Mejiro Murose is inspired by the art that he learns through restoInstitute of Urushi Conservation for the preservation of rations. “When I create my work, my aim is always to make this cultural property and to convey the art to the next people happy. I want people to touch my work. Instead of generations. He thought that to learn through restoration just expressing one’s own self-assertion, art should satisfy is a great way to study, a way to see beautiful antiques and give joy to both artists and public. I think this is the with a modern point of view. For Kazumi Murose, when true meaning of art in the 21st century.” Murose's style is it comes to tradition, we tend to think that it is a simple characterised by the artful representation of the movement matter of transferring old teachings. In fact, creative deof wind and water and the sense of movement of air. signs are born in each period of the past, and have survived Murose also believes that art can lead to peace. He says to the present day. Combinations of old technique and gently and ﬁrmly: “Urushi is Strong and Beautiful. There the creativity and design of each era is what can be seen is something that never changes, which is the traditional and felt and learned through restoration works. Japan is a value of Japanese art. Creation and design are always free, great country as there are many cultural properties which and new styles can blend with tradition, all the way into the can teach us inﬁnite things from many hundreds of years future. To pass this on, I keep touching Urushi."
by Conceição Amaral
The art of IN THE HEART OF LISBON, A MUSEUM, A SCHOOL AND A VARIETY OF WORKSHOPS
The Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva Foundation is a Public Utility Institution, founded in 1953 when the banker Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva donated the Azurara Palace and his art collection to the Portuguese State. The Foundation’s mission is to safeguard, promote, disseminate and transmit skills in the decorative arts by means of a museum, schools and workshops, paralleled by activities in the ﬁeld of conservation and restoration. The Foundation plays a crucial role in Portuguese culture. It houses numerous important facilities such as the Museum of Portuguese Decorative Arts; in addition to preserving, researching and displaying its patrimony of works, it also engages in the promotion of Portuguese traditional arts and professions through guided tours, conferences and educational workshops. The College of Decorative Arts provides courses in interior design as well as training in heritage preservation and restoration, within the framework of the research activities promoted by the Centre for the Study of Decorative Arts. The goal of the Arts and Crafts Institute is to provide professional training for careers in wood crafts and decorative painting. In addition to restoring antiques, the Workshop for traditional arts
and crafts produces new objects made using time-honoured techniques, the modern continuity of tradition. The Conservation and Restoration Department also plays an important role. In conjunction with the workshops, it co-ordinates activities covering a wide variety of materials, both on a scientiﬁc and a technical level. This close-knit organisation provides a dynamic relationship between the Museum, the Schools and the Workshops. It expresses awareness of the fact that art and heritage must be closely linked to schooling, training and the transmission of skills, an intangible heritage whose protection and safeguard is one of the major concerns of many governments and of the UNESCO. As guardian of Portugal’s decorative arts culture, the Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva Foundation teaches and transmits this heritage, made of rigorous competence and skills, in its arts and crafts workshops, where the teachings of dedicated master craftsmen ensure the continuity of traditional savoir-faire and materials. Our approach in training and teaching will enable future generations to take advantage of a cultural and artistic diversity that is vast and very much alive. We conduct a number of informative activities in order to pro-
TRANSMITTING KNOWLEDGE Cabinet making, casting, book-binding and decoration, woodwork are only some of the crafts that the Foundation preserves and transmits in its workshops located in the heart of Lisbon, next to the Museum of Portuguese Decorative Arts, home to ﬁne handicrafts such as the imposing dining room on the opposite page.
Schools of excellence
competence PRESERVE FINE PORTUGUESE CRAFTSMANSHIP AND CREATE MASTERPIECES
mote the historical and intangible legacy of our heritage. We want to create awareness and give dignity to the crafts and popular history of an ancient city that is determined to survive. To this end, we organise guided tours of the Museum and of the Arts and Crafts Workshops, conferences and exhibitions with contemporary artists, artist-in-residence programmes (such as Sara Bran’s) and special projects on the theme of «artist versus artisan: artistic handicrafts», of which the exhibition of Joana Vasconcelos at Versailles is an outstanding example. The Museum houses works of art that are valuable and rare. And the objects created in our traditional workshops are equally rare. In the Woodwork Workshop dedicated to Splitting, Cabinet-making, Inlay Work, Woodcarving and Polishing, for example, training embraces every aspect of the craft, from selecting the appropriate variety of wood to the preparation of the mould, up to the creation of the ﬁnished piece. A unique competence is involved in every step of the process that leads to the creation of a new piece of furniture or to the restoration of an antique. In the Metals Workshop we can witness the use of ancestral techniques in Casting, Chiselling, Metalworking, Tinwork and in particular in
Gold Beating – a unique profession on a national level. The Workshop of Book-binding and Decoration teaches the techniques of binding, of the making of reﬁned marbled paper and of meticulously gilded decorations. The burnished gilding or silver plating processes used in the Decorative Painting and Gilding Workshop are a rarity: painting and gilding incorporated in pieces of furniture, walls and painted ceilings or other surfaces are carried out here. The Textiles and Upholstery Workshop trains for the production of Arraiolos carpets with wool dyed using ancient methods. It is also involved in the conservation and restoration of textiles, embroidery and antique oriental carpets; the production of hand-made textile decorations is also taught here. Lastly, the Drawing Ofﬁce produces full-size drawings of pieces of furniture or other objects. The projects are entirely hand-drawn, including all the ornamental details such as locks, inlays, wood sculptures or other reliefs necessary to interpret their shape and structure. Accordingly, every visit is more than just a journey amidst the beauty of the objects. It is also about immersing oneself in the precision of the techniques performed here with passion, care and excellence.
CREATIVE PATHS Installation with red pRa@L tape which ďŹ lls the whole space. Designed by Fabio Novembre for the Italian Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo, representing the city of Milan (by appointment of Milan City Council).
MaĂŽtres of design
SPACE DANCES WITH ME Fabio Novembre handles the living matter of design with the tact of a set designer and the energy of a choreographer. In doing so, he creates a lithe dialogue between bodies and places, inner being and matter
by Ugo La Pietra
Maîtres of design
woman’s body to reshape it, to enhance it, to add a little mystery, appeal, complexity and ... opulence. The spaces that Novembre designs are always characterised by the desire to “go one step further”: adding richness and complexity where the architecture moves, speaks, listens and questions itself, even with daring moves, like a body attempting to release itself through dance. “The way a ribbon unfolds in space can be
EVOCATIVE FORMS Above, right, illustration by Emiliano Ponzi for the catalogue of the exhibition entitled “Il ﬁore di Novembre”, Triennale di Milano, 2009. Below, Org table, Cappellini, 2001. Opposite page, top, Stuart Weitzman store, Rome, 2004. Bottom, Strip chair, Casamania, 2011.
Design continues to this day to be a young discipline! Proof of this lies in the fact that it has never created an area of research which is separated from production and consumption. As a young discipline, over the years it has often drawn on neighbouring ﬁelds of research for inspiration: the heavy industry in the post-war period, programmed art in the Sixties, architecture in the Fifties and Sixties, furnishings from the Thirties to the present day and, more recently, craftsmanship and applied art. Among those who have managed to transfer their experiences from one discipline to another, I have always felt Fabio Novembre deserves a mention of honour. Novembre has contributed to the world of design tapping from his experience in the context of “set furnishing”, a ﬁeld in which he played starring roles on several occasions, early in his career. I can still recall the Bisazza showroom in Berlin and Barcelona, Florence’s UNA Vittoria Hotel, the Tardini store in New York, Café Atlantique in Milan and many installations that seemed to unfold in their surroundings with the same spirit and approach expressed by a great set designer. As a set designer, he approaches space with the same passion of a fashion designer who wants to take possession of a
The way a ribbon unfolds in space is like the trim of an unworn gala dress, or like a ﬁlm that has come off the reel of an unseen movie
seen as the trim of an unworn gala dress, or a ﬁlm that has come off the reel of an unseen movie,” explains the architect and designer. So Novembre knows how to read spaces, and he knows how to move them with all the nonchalance of a ﬂag thrower. But space is also the body, and the body is where he experiments. He is convinced that “there is no division between what you do and who you are.” This conviction has guided him towards new horizons in creativity and experimentation, from the ﬁrst environmental experiences to works on and for the body. Whilst the world of design expressed itself through rational and abstract elements for many decades, with Novembre we see a return to the irrational process (Surrealism, Dadaism and Situationist International for an imaginist Bauhaus, radical Architecture, Adhocism, Neo-eclecticism) reproposing, in all its abundance, the complex relationship with anthropomorphic forms. Scenographic installations, rediscovery of the body, but also the desire to produce works that are loaded with concepts. It appears that love is the conceptual and emotional key which Novembre uses to give sense to his works. Love, but also water, gravity, chaos, order, cities, people, Venus... categories that can enhance a setting, an object, an installation. Accordingly Fabio Novembre takes his place in the world of design as something of a pied piper, full of energy and, at the age of forty, already views himself in the role of the “maestro”: he spotlights his achievements in design and his personal knowledge to make them spectacular. With great skill, he appears (and therefore
exists) using all the tools at his disposal: exhibitions, publications, articles in all the biggest magazines. At the start I mentioned “set designing” because I think that this discipline, which has always enhanced, modiﬁed and deﬁned settings, is the key to understanding Novembre’s work: as elated and elating as a mise-en-scène in which he is, at the same time, actor, spectator, director and, above all, the set designer.
HIDDEN COMPARTMENTS ARE THE HALLMARK OF LINLEY, A POINT OF REFERENCE IN THE WORLD OF LUXURY FURNITURE. THE FOUNDER OF THE BRITISH DESIGN COMPANY EXPLAINS WHY
by Giovanna Marchello
A SECRET IN EVERY DRAWER
FINSBURY DESK The main body is in American walnut, with inlays of lacewood, rosewood, ebony and nickel plating. Its shape is inspired by the elliptical Finsbury Circus in Central London. The square and its gardens are evoked in every detail of the desk, ямБtted with a number of secret drawers and compartments.
The taste for beautiful and reﬁned objects grows from living among them. This combined to a natural talent and a precocious passion for the crafts can be the prologue to a story of excellence. David Linley’s creative ability was nurtured by his parents from an early age, as they encouraged his passion for making things. His father, the eminent photographer Lord Snowdon, was particularly inﬂuential having trained as an architect and designed amongst other things the Aviary at London Zoo. David Linley attended Bedales School, whose educational motto is to involve “head, hand and heart”, then trained at the Parnam School for Craftsmen in Wood, founded in the 70s by renowned furniture designer and maker John Makepeace. Having mastered the craft, he set about transforming his passion into a business. When the British design company was established in 1985, David Linley’s aim was clear and absolute: to design and manufacture furniture of the highest quality. In less than 30 years, Linely has become a relevant name in the world of luxury
furnishings, specialising in the design and production of furniture, upholstery, interiors and home accessories: “As we have altered and added to the range of products and services we offer, so too has our client proﬁle changed and developed, but the wonderful thing is that some of my ﬁrst clients are still some of our best today. Our relationship with our clients is something we work hard on nurturing and we love it when they become part of the process.” Linley clients include a long list of personalities and designers, and the projects extend from exclusive apartments in prestigious residences to luxury hotels, yachts, private jets and corporate ofﬁces of multinationals. As David Linley recalls, thirty years ago “people were reluctant to commission
furniture so I had to concentrate on breaking that barrier, that has only recently started to change with many people choosing to have furniture made to their exact requirements rather than buying it ‘off the peg’. Our client base has also broadened signiﬁcantly with the introduction of the internet; our website is our biggest shop window. We can reach much further than we ever could before.” In the workshop “ideas are born from discussions with clients, day to day observations, architectural inspiration and learning from previous mistakes.” David Linley has used his reﬁned taste and the superlative craftsmanship of his collaborators to create a multitude of objects and designs, and the signature feature of his production is represented by secret drawers and hidden compartments. “One of our newest lines is the ‘little Linley’ collection, with a range of gifts for children. The evolution of this collection was very natural, I realised that children are just as enthralled as adults by secret drawers, the tactility of wood and the way things work.”
MANY CLIENTS PREFER A BESPOKE DESIGN RATHER THAN BUYING
ICONIC MARQUETRY Top, David Linley. Above, a ﬁnely inlaid jewellery box in Swiss pear and cherry with grey sycamore, rosewood and ebony inlays inspired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, based on Richard Morris’ original design of 1902. The box features a secret hiding place for the key. Opposite page, the bureau celebrating the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. There is a miniature silver-plated statue of the composer on the cornice, a marquetry townscape of Salzburg on the front and a marquetry portrait of Mozart inside.
The production is strictly Made in the UK. For special projects such as yachts, jets and cars Linley relies on speciﬁc artisans. “We work with one hundred craftsmen in Britain: cabinet makers, marquetarians, carvers, sculptors, gilders, precious metal platers, metal workers, engineers, upholsterers, specialist ﬁnishers, French polishers, artists, leather workers, foundries for castings and jewellers.” Having learned his trade at the school John Makepeace founded to teach traditional skills and techniques to the future generations, David Linley is very keen on this issue. “We are at the dawn of an exciting new era with a generation of new craftsmen. They are mainly self-taught, not bound by rules, and are breaking new ground. We encourage the training of young artisans at the workshops we work with.” In David Linley’s opinion, the role of an artisan in the contemporary world of luxury is “to ensure that superlative craftsmanship is involved in the creation of each and every piece. The artisan must always be asking ‘is it the best of the best?’” With this question in mind, Linley craftsmen were recently involved in a new challenge, a special project in
FURNITURE “OFF THE PEG” which they produced the ﬁne Macassar ebony body – hidden drawer included – of the Thomas Mercer Classis by Andrew Winch Designs, in a “perfect conjugation of horology, cabinet-making and nautical design”. “William Morris once said, ‘have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’ which I think is a great rule to live by when choosing the ‘perfect’ piece of furniture. In terms of ‘perfect’ quality, I would not want a piece of furniture to leave our workshops until I am certain that it has been imaginatively designed, lovingly made by our exceptionally skilled craftsmen and then ﬁnished exquisitely by hand. In my mind the perfect piece of furniture must also possess a certain wit and charm and, of course, a secret drawer or two!”
by Simona Cesana
THE DEAFENING SILENCE OF
This page, stoneware plate made by Bruno Gambone for the 2011 edition of the Venice Biennale (one-off piece). Opposite page, his atelier in Florence. In the foreground, the “Sculturine” series dedicated to Bruno Munari.
Maîtres d ’art
FOR BRUNO GAMBONE THIS MATERIAL IS THE PERFECT MEDIUM OF HIS ARTISTIC EXPRESSION. HIS WORKS SPEAK OF ATMOSPHERES THAT ARE REMOTE YET CONTEMPORARY. THEY TELL STORIES WITHOUT SAYING A WORD
The title of this article describes Bruno Gambone’s works in ceramic with an oxymoron: to express, with a blatant image, the communicative strength of the production of this great master. Born in Vietri sul Mare in 1936, son of master ceramist Guido (one of the greatest exponents of Vietri’s art in the ‘20s and ‘30s), artistically speaking he was raised in Florence before moving on to New York in the late ‘60s (where he frequented artists such as Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, Warhol and Stella), dedicating his energies to painting, sculpture, cinema and theatre. In the process of creating art, he began to identify the close relationship between form and content. The concept of art as a “project” was further stimulated when he returned to Italy, and settling down in Milan he met Castellani, Fontana, Scheggi, Bonalumi and Gianni Colombo. In his works he probes the relationship between artistic project and output, and ceramic is the matter through which his pursuit is expressed: the formal rigour of the structure of his compositions meets his skill to shape and transform matter. And no material can represent the history of mankind better than clay. Ceramic, and in particular stoneware with its raw texture, its tactile, penetrating roughness, its unstable equilibrium, provides Gambone with the means for his investigation and experimentation: his “bottles” (presented for the ﬁrst time at the Venice Biennale in 1973) featuring rational forms and elementary volumes (the oval, the cylinder, the parallelepiped) and neutral colours (opaque white, vel-
The noise of dawn is so loud! Made more of things than of people. - Sandro Penna -
vet black, manganese brown) synthesise a concept that is anthropomorphic. In their core they expose a cut, an incision, a scratch, a texture which, in revealing what lies “beyond”, represent the interior and immaterial worlds that the work portrays. These bottles describe contemporary man: an archaic, metaphysical, upright and pure being who stands up to the world, albeit pierced by the lacerations of daily life. The metaphysical value of objective reality (that Giorgio Morandi expressed in some of his paintings) is evident also in Gambone’s small sculptures: in the series of imaginary animals, for example, that he started to create in the ‘70s. We also ﬁnd it in the small, abstract sculptures in which pure forms are carved into the material, conjuring up images that are both archaic and contemporary and therefore timeless. The use of colour modulation, the fractures and lacerations of the matter, the attempts to create an open dialogue beetween imprints, textures and incisions are also evident in his most recent works. Like the plates (produced in 2011 and displayed at the Venice Biennale) in which the artist tackles a two-dimensional space representing all the elements of a stage. And in fact these plates are small theatres, but despite what one might expect, the plot is not lacking the depth of the third dimension: it is suggested by what is “beyond”, in the memories which the objects evoke. These ceramics tell Gambone’s stories, the stories of remote yet contemporary atmospheres. Whilst remaining silent, they tell the story of a world, to quote Sandro Penna, “made more of things than of people”.
Right, Bruno Gambone in a portrait by Aurelia Raffo. Left and opposite page, some of his stoneware “bottles” with white opaque varnish and colour effects obtained using natural oxides.
Maîtres d ’art
by Simona Cesana photos by Oliver Roth
COMBINING TRADITIONAL CULTURE AND PROVOCATIVE DESIGN, STEFAN STRUMBEL REDEFINES THE NOTION OF HEIMAT. WITH A TOUCH OF IRONY. Engraved wooden animal masks typical of the Allemanic Carnival, Catholic cruciﬁxes, sacred images and, above all, the traditional cuckoo clock (the symbol of Black Forest craftsmanship and folk art) are the creative references that German artist Stefan Strumbel uses to construct his artistic language. Born in Offenburg in 1979, at the outskirts of the Black Forest bordering on the Rhine Valley, Strumbel’s work both renovates and dismantles the traditions and folklore of his homeland. Experimenting and musing on the stereotypes of traditional culture, he revisited its clichés, with an irreverence that is expressed in the exaggerated use of form and content. Forcing cultural and religious taboos, his works can at the same time attract or provoke the public, to the point of making it walk away. Strumbel’s works translate his personal interpretation of Heimat, the German word that expresses the concept of “homeland”: in his Black Forest workshop, he respectfully mixes images and objects closely connected to his cultural and religious identity with elements from urban-pop culture, like skulls, riﬂes, bones and guitars, with a generous helping of technicolor. His works of applied art have roots in unadulterated tradition: the surface of the wood, sculpted and carved with skill and attention to
detail (traditional features of Black Forest carpentry) is spray-painted with dazzling, fluorescent acrylic colours, highlighting aggressive, violent and pornographic motifs. A technique that comes from his past life as a street and grafﬁti artist, when he took part in many events
all over the world (France, Egypt, Italy, the USA, Holland, Slovenia and South Africa) with his murals. As with many of his colleagues, his grafﬁti have earned him also charges of defacement. In one of his cuckoo clock works, the visual and metaphoric purity represented by the cherubs with golden wings set against an all-white surface and crowned by the dove of peace that watches over it, contrasts with the dissolving matter of the white wings that melt like snow in the sun, and neither the angels nor the dove can do anything about this disintegration. Where can we ﬁnd peace and safety, if even the strongest of symbols start teetering? A speech balloon provides the answer on the shocking-pink cuckoo clock, where riﬂes and bones stand guard over carved wooden owls: “Rock your Heimat ”. The questions Strumbel asks himself are: “How exactly can the cultural identity of each individual be deﬁned? What is within us, and what is outside?”. The answer which we read in his artistic language is a mixture of experiences and cultures; to quote the aphorism of the great German poet Friedrich Hölderlin, they are made of discordant elements. Not merely for the sake of an irreverent game, but also to prompt a contemporary dialogue that is made, like rock music, of chords and discords.
THE ROOTS OF ART Above and opposite page, two cuckoo clocks. Top, Stefan Strumbel, the German artist famous for the murals that have also earned him charges of defacement. Today he is one of the best-known Black Forest talents in applied arts in woodworking.
“The resolution of dissonances in a particular character is neither for reﬂection, nor for empty pleasure” Friedrich Hölderlin
FLORILÈGE OF ARTISTIC SENSITIVITY The guilloché engravings on the dial dedicated to the China Limodoron orchid of the Métiers d’Art Florilège collection. With true artistic sensitivity, the master guillocheur skilfully creates, on the gold dial, the symmetrical pattern of lines just one tenth of a millimetre apart. Opposite page, a plate from Robert John Thornton’s book which inspired Vacheron Constantin.
THE TEMPLE OF FLORA THE SPLENDID PLATES COMMISSIONED IN 1799 BY THE ENGLISH PHYSICIAN ROBERT JOHN THORNTON ARE REVIVED WITH THE SAME EXQUISITE PRECISION ON THE DIALS OF VACHERON CONSTANTIN’S NEW FLORILÈGE WATCHES by Alberto Cavalli
SECRET GEOMETRIES REVEAL A PRODIGIOUS HARMONY There is a geometric, secret, silent yet eloquent language that guides the creation of natural forms: forms that take shape around us, revealing stunning details, unexpected proportions and dazzling colours. In Tiepolo’s Triumph of Flora, the benevolent sovereign smiles at the men who kneel admiringly before her; in much the same way, our mind is repeatedly stimulated to admire and identify in ﬂowers and plants the secret geometries which reveal a prodigious harmony. Geometric patterns that the skilled hands of artists and artisans have depicted and recreated, celebrated and gloriﬁed, fathoming the depths of their most evocative inspiration. Such is the case with the magniﬁcent plates which the English physician Robert John Thornton commissioned in 1799 for The Temple of Flora, the conclusive part of the New illustration of the sexual system of Carolus von Linnaeus. A masterful editorial project composed of 90 colour engravings in which plants and ﬂowers were exquisitely and meticulously reproduced, in an intriguing representation of the serene majesty of nature. Thornton’s work, which the author himself had intended as a celebration of the power of love through a scrupulous selection of plants from the four continents, includes drawings that fascinate with their accurate reproduction of detail and seduce with their use of mezzotint (a procedure that emphasises tonal variations in colour) and aquatint (a technique
similar to etching). This enchanted world is now being brought back to life in the limited-edition creations of Vacheron Constantin, Geneva’s oldest watch Manufacture. Three new models of the Métiers d’Art collection, presented last January at Geneva’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), celebrate Vacheron Constantin’s personal Florilège (the name of the creations) and establish a dialogue between the natural geometries reproduced by Thornton and the talent, skill and artistic expression of its master craftsmen. Accordingly, each of the dials combines different rare and reﬁned métiers d’art, that reproduce and enhance the magical realism of the plates by the great English botanist and physician. This collector’s edition - twenty pieces for each of the three models – was created for women who appreciate and are sensitive to the poetry of time. The Florilège watches are highlighted by a bezel set with round-cut diamonds, and baguette-cut diamonds in the case of the special edition exclusively made for Vacheron Constantin boutiques (ﬁve pieces for each model). Each of these luxurious watches is ﬁtted with a calibre 4400, a movement which the Manufacture developed in its own workshops over years of research. The watches feature the hallmarks of haute horlogerie: the big mainspring barrel, for example, guarantees a power reserve of 65 hours. The case is state-of-the-art and has a 37-mil-
FINGERTIP PRODUCTION Top, clockwise, using the Grand Feu technique, the enameller marks out the patterns in thin enclosures of gold, that separate the different ﬁelds of coloured enamels. At the end of the process, the gem-setter completes the diamond-adorned bezel. Opposite page, the dial dedicated to the China Limodron orchid during the various stages of enamelling.
A SECRET, SILENT YET ELOQUENT LANGUAGE limetre diameter. The craftsmanship which Vacheron Constantin lavishes on creating mechanisms that are both technically perfect and aesthetically ﬂawless can also be seen in the baseplate, bridges, and other components, all the surfaces of which (including those that are not visible) are bevelled and decorated by hand. Yet it is in the decoration of the Florilège dials that the talent of Vacheron Constantin’s master craftsmen expresses itself with all its breathtakingly evocative and descriptive force. Descriptive, because the craftsmen have reproduced the ﬂowers down to the ﬁnest details. And evocative, because the guilloché engravings, that enhance the designs, colours and enamels, instantly conjure up an ideal world of beauty with their stunning intensity. The same incomparable desire for perfection which prompted Thornton himself to publish a work intended to surpass all other botanical plates produced until then. Guillochage, a technique and an art requiring a mastery possessed by a mere handful of talented craftsmen, plays a crucial role on the watch dials: the master guillocheur creates an expanding symmetrical pattern by cutting lines one tenth of a millimetre apart. On these imperceptible yet highly precise lines, enameller Anita Porchet (an independent artist specialising in miniature painting on Grand Feu cloisonné enamels, to whose expertise Vacheron Constantin entrusted this special work) then marks out the patterns
in thin enclosures of gold, that separate the different ﬁelds of coloured enamels. The result is outstanding: the cloisonné technique allows for a richness of form and colour which is unique. Only a few craftsmen truly master the art of Grand Feu: in fact, it takes a very steady hand and a talent trained through years of dedicated work to apply the enamel coatings, that are ﬁred to perfection at temperatures of almost 800° C, and to repeat this operation as many times as needed to intensify the colours and obtain the play of light through the translucent materials. The ﬁnal step, that is no less demanding than the previous ones, is called glaçage: in order to glaze and polish the surface, a ﬁnal coat of enamel is applied. The last ﬁring produces a glossy shine that deﬁnes and highlights the ﬂoral pattern. Bestowed with the exclusive Hallmark of Geneva, a guarantee of quality that certiﬁes the product’s workmanship and skill, the Métiers d’Art Florilège watches bear witness to the sensitive and vigorous care with which Vacheron Constantin promotes, protects and showcases the skill of its matîres d’art: thanks to the creation of these magniﬁcent works of outstanding craftsmanship, time-honoured techniques have found a new and contemporary application, and the secret, invincible power of the smiling goddess Flora can triumph in the hearts of today’s women. If Thornton’s ambition was to achieve a supreme level of perfection, then Vacheron Constantin has fulﬁlled his desire.
A GODDESS WHO SPEAKS TO WOMEN Top, the three Florilège watches from the Métier d’Art collection produced by Vacheron Constantin in a limited series of 20 pieces: White Lily, Queen and China Limodoron. All the models have an 18K white gold case with a 37 mm diameter. Opposite page, detail of the evocative and highly detailed dial dedicated to the China Limodoron orchid.
Eccellenze dal mondo
FROM 5 TO 7 APRIL, THE INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF THE MÉTIERS D’ART REACHES MILAN
by Alessandra de Nitto The important international annual event of the European Art and Craft Profession Days (5-7 April), under the aegis of the Institut National des Métiers d’Art, will be celebrated in Milan with a rich programme of exhibitions and events, promoted by the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art through the support of prestigious partnerships. All the initiatives of the programme
photos by Emanuele Zamponi
have been made possible thanks to the invaluable patronage of Vacheron Constantin, ofﬁcial partner of the European Days. Geneva’s oldest Manufacture of ﬁne watch-making, once again working side by side with the Cologni Foundation, has always supported and promoted artistic craftsmanship throughout the world, the Maison’s history being rooted in the combination of traditional
skills and creative innovation. Vacheron Constantin’s cultural patronage is based on this strong bond, a commitment to give value to a “savoir-faire” that is a living heritage. A number of exhibitions and events focusing on Italy’s crafts of excellence will take place in a condensed timeframe at signiﬁcant venues, both public and private, of Milan’s cultural and artistic life.
TIME ACCORDING TO ALESSANDRO MENDINI Top, a phase in the handcrafted production of “Seven” (opposite page, the ﬁnal result). Alessandro Mendini’s creation in bronze and marble was made by Gori Lab of Calenzano (Florence). The exhibition entitled “Time according to Alessandro Mendini and his artisans” is dedicated to the artist and will be held from 6 to 14 April at Superstudio 13, Via Forcella 13, in Milan (www.ateliermendini.it).
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EXHIBITIONS TAKING PLACE IN A CONDENSED TIMEFRAME AT SOME OF MILAN’S MOST IMPORTANT CULTURAL VENUES
ARTS & CRAFTS & DESIGN Time according to Alessandro Mendini and his artisans 6-14 April, Superstudio 13 Via Forcella, 13 Developed by the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art in cooperation with Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris and supported by Vacheron Constantin, the project was previewed at Geneva’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. The theme of the exhibition is Time: 13 outstanding objects designed by the great Alessandro Mendini that emphasise the relationship between art, design and artistic crafts. Each of the works designed by Mendini was made in different materials (mosaic, glass, lace, ceramic, polyurethane, wood, methacrylate, brass, resin and iron) by outstanding craftsmen, ateliers or Italian art editors: from Bisazza to Venini, from Superego Design to the Committee for the Promotion of Cantù Lace, from Slide to the Paolo Curti and Annamaria Gambuzzi Gallery, from Giovanni Scacchi to Gori Lab and Fedeli Restauri, from Cleto Munari and Henry Glass to Carlo Poggio Design and Riva 1920.
WOMEN IN WORKSHOPS The presence of women artisans / protodesigners/entrepreneurs in Lombardy from 1906 to 2012 14 March-21 April, Palazzo Morando - Costume Moda Immagine, Via Sant’Andrea, 6 Promoted by Anty Pansera and Mariateresa Chirico of the DcomeDesign Association, the exhibition focuses on the design creativity of women in Lombardy, showcasing representative “samples” of their production, that is often little known but extremely sig-
niﬁcant and valuable. The exhibition identifies some of the fields where women artisan-artists have played a signiﬁcant role and their creations – unique pieces or small series – express considerable originality and experimentation in various creative fields and with a variety of materials: from lace to fabric and paper, from carpets to ceramics and silver, from jewellery to accessories for the home. ARTISTIC CRAFTS AND PROFESSIONS The Symbolic Heads of Ugo La Pietra 2-7 April, Swiss Corner c/o the Swiss Centre - Piazza Cavour, 7 on the corner of Via Palestro Ugo La Pietra’s works are characterised by the merging of design and craftsmanship, objects shaped through the close collaboration with master craftsmen and artisan communities. Of the many projects he has developed in the past thirty years to renew traditional culture, the one related to the Caltagirone area seems to have produced some of the most successful and signiﬁcant results. As is often the case with his creative process, La Pietra was inspired by the “head planter”, the symbol of Caltagirone’s great historical ceramic
CELEBRATING THE SKILLS OF THE FEMALE HAND Above, Fede Cheti, Samburu, linen (1950). From the Collezione Fede Cheti, displayed at the “Women in Workshops” exhibition in Milan’s Palazzo Morando. Top, three of the twelve ceramic head planters by Ugo La Pietra, made by master ceramist Nicolò Morales of Caltagirone, dedicated to the “Professions”: the chef, the doctor, the architect. Opposite page, bottom, works by Lino Sabattini: the historical “Como” silver tea and coffee set (1956); from the “Palaﬁtte” series, bottle in Murano glass and silver-plated metal (1992).
tradition, and from this starting point he developed several collections over the years, relying on the craftsmanship of the best ceramists. His latest collection, made entirely by master ceramist Nicolò Morales, is dedicated to “the Professions”. THE VISIONS OF LINO SABATTINI Mastery and genius in artistic craft 5-14 April, Galleria Paloma Via G. Fiamma, 12 For the ﬁrst time in Milan, an exhibition that celebrates and introduces Lino Sabattini to the general public. The artist, silversmith and designer is one of Lombardy’s top artisans, and well-known to scholars and design enthusiasts alike. A unique opportunity to learn more about his extraordinary achievements is provided through a collection of works, chosen by the master himself in co-
operation with Daniele Lorenzon and Gisella Alﬁeri Sabattini. Thanks to this “participated” curatorship, for the ﬁrst time it is possible to admire prototypes, sketches and drawings that retrace the story of the birth and development of a representative selection of Sabattini’s extensive experimentation. In addition to his silver masterpieces, the exhibition will display the results of experiments he made over the years on other materials such as glass and ceramic, which often dialogued with silver before undertaking a journey of their own. Complementary to the programme of events are three days of workshops and meetings, all open to the public, with the pupils and teachers of the luthier schools of Milan and Cremona. The initiative is part of the exhibition entitled “Creators of Harmonies. The making of violins, from the material to the gesture” (until 7 April), held at Milan’s Fondazione Cariplo Auditorium and dedicated to the renowned Italian tradition of violin making, thanks to a partnership between the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art, the Fondazione Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro Sinfonico di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, and the Fondazione Antonio Stradivari. (www.costruttoridiarmonie.it).
This page, Torpedo Taif chandelier, Barovier&Toso (2010), up to two and a half metres in height. Opposite page, Taif ceiling light (1980), designed for the residence of the Saudi king at Taif. Here Angelo Barovier redeďŹ ned the image of the traditional Murano chandelier.
THE REFLECTIONS OF
LIGHT BAROVIER&TOSO, THE OLDEST DYNAST Y OF MURANO GLASS MAKERS, ELEVATING TRADITION TO THE CUTTING EDGE
by Carla Sonego
FROM THE WEDDING GOBLET OF 1450 TO MODERN-DAY MASTERPIECES
Above, different stages in the glassmaking process. Opposite page, Barovier&Toso Baikal chandelier (2007), with crystal pendants, twisted pastorals (with a heart of gold e mbedded in the crystal) and long gilded lamp sockets. The gold flakes in the glass enrich the effect.
Murano glass boasts a history dating back thousands of years. Its roots lie in a fertile culture of the matter. An ancient wisdom, handed down from father to son, combined with manual skills, in keeping with a renewed tradition that, whilst remaining loyal to its rules and rituals, is brought back to life by the mastery of its extraordinary interpreters. Undoubtedly, among these is the oldest dynasty of glass makers of the historic and prestigious furnace at Murano. For the Barovier family are descendants of the famous Angelo Barovier who, midway through the sixteenth century, created the clear, colourless yet priceless Venetian crystal. Its name is also associated with the highly reﬁned wedding goblet, known as the “Barovier wedding cup”, made in around 1450 from transparent blue glass with gold and enamel decorations, and today kept in the Murano Museum. In an era closer to our own, namely the second decade of the twentieth century, Ercole Barovier (1889-1974) was gradually making his mark in the family business. Though he worked with it, he did not actually blow glass. Instead, he
chose to devote himself to technical research and experimentation, particularly when it came to preparing the material. This aptitude emerged with force in the Primavera glass vases, with their innovative milky, opalescent effect (1929-30). While this type of glass, a somewhat random result, could not be repeated, new trials prompted Ercole to perfect a technique known as “hot colouring without fusion” (1935-36), the result of which was a truly stunning series of magniﬁcent creations. This procedure was used many times and always in new ways, which is evident even in the glassworks’ post-war production, always renewed and up-to-date. In 1942, following changes in the company structure, the glassworks became known with the present name of Barovier&Toso. In those years, Ercole Barovier revived the technique of glass “tesserae”, combining procedures from days gone by with new tastes. A tireless creator of styles and glass textures, he produced an impressive variety of outstanding reinterpretations. The Milleﬁli series (in particular model no. 21689) was so signiﬁcant that it earned him the Compasso d’Oro Award in 1956,
PROJECTS, DESIGN, INSTALLATIONS: HOW LIGHTING BECOMES AN ART
Below, The Secret Garden event created by Paola Navone for Barovier&Toso at the Fuori Salone fringe events, Milan 2012. Opposite page, Exagon ceiling lamp (2010) with lotus leaves embellished with small ﬂakes, in gold or pale colours, that ﬂoat in the air lit by LEDs that highlight their contours. Barovier&Toso, 2010
and glass made its ofﬁcial debut in the world of design. The company continued to develop, generation after generation, with the active involvement of Angelo (1927-2008), Ercole’s son, later joined by his son Jacopo who, midway through the ‘80s, reorganised and renewed both organisation and production systems. The company concentrated on the development of lighting systems, which became increasingly predominant. And in opening up to design, it found new expressive outlets, resulting in important partnerships with a number of designers, such as Umberto Riva, Matteo Thun, Daniela Puppa, Franco Raggi, Rodolfo Dordoni and many others. Lighting systems thus become the sphere of excellence of Barovier&Toso’s most recent production, including large-scale installations. Two product lines can be identiﬁed. On the one hand, a new in-
terpretation of the classic chandelier with arms, with original combinations of materials and colours, and on the other, technology is used to reinvent traditional elements and designs. Barovier&Toso develops lighting solutions for each of the possible light sources (ceiling, wallmounted or table lamps) that are inspired by both approaches. Coloured glass in geometric or abstract forms (the Exagon series, 2010, design: Barovier&Toso) or the combination of metal with traditional glass elements (Eden, 2011, design: Daniela Puppa and Francesca Martelli) are, by way of example, the deﬁning features of suspension and ceiling lamps. In these, the use of glossy technical materials and new light sources such as LEDs have resulted in the total reinterpretation of lighting compositions. The proliﬁc output of recent years includes remarkable stylised ﬂoral decorations and marine motifs in coloured, opaque and transparent glass conjugated with brass or chrome-plated surfaces. Accordingly, tradition and innovation ﬁnd new expressive and functional solutions. An outstanding manifestation of this experimentation is represented by The Secret Garden event, held during the 2012 Salone del Mobile, where Barovier&Toso displayed its work with an installation by Paola Navone: traditional Murano blown glass lamps in bright, modern colours were positioned inside isolated structures in Brera’s Botanical Gardens. Conversely, amusing and ironic lamps in coloured glass (Marino and Marina) by Navone, who revisited an original design by Ercole Barovier dated 1927, were placed at intervals to light up the garden. The most recent output of the Barovier&Toso furnace is the Colimaçon lamp (2012), designed by Marc Sadler. The classic ceiling lamp can now “transform” itself, and once again it “revolutionises the concept of its genre”: its mobile structure is made of metal and Murano glass is used for the diffusers, producing an extremely elegant effect that reveals characteristic transparent or opaque veins. This creation represents a new challenge, where tradition is the starting point and the output is marked by unexpected, avant-garde results.
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by Alessandra de Nitto
OPEN CARE OFFERS SPECIAL ART SERVICES TO RESTORE UNIQUENESS
V This page and opposite, Open Care’s Milanese workshop for the conservation and restoration of tapestries and antique textiles. Top, “Madonna con Bambino tra i santi Giovanni Battista, Francesco, Girolamo, Sebastiano e il donatore” (1515) by Giovanni Bellini, restored by Open Care.
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Via Piranesi in Milan is a well-known address dear to the hearts of art collectors: it is home to Open Care, an organisation completely unique of its kind in Europe, which is highly specialised in storing, managing and preserving public and private works of art. This service company for the art world was established in 2003 in the premises of the late nineteenthcentury architectonic complex once housing Frigoriferi Milanesi which underwent futuristic restructuring and redevelopment work in the hands of the 5+1AA architecture studio. The complex also includes the spectacular Art Nouveau Palazzo del Ghiaccio, historically the largest ice skating rink in Europe and today an equally evocative site for exhibitions, shows and events. Open Care offers a number of services, from the vaults (covering over 8,000 square metres, protected by the most sophisticated security systems and with constant monitoring of indoor climate), art consultancy and logistics. But conservation and restoration are the jewel in the crown of Open Care’s work, with a dedicated department which uses the most advanced scientiﬁc equipment and has ﬁve specialised laboratories of the highest standard. They handle paintings and works of art made with different materials, wooden furniture, tapestries and antique fabrics, rugs and antique scientiﬁc instruments. We were treated to an exciting private tour with an exceptional guide, Isabella Villafranca Soissons, director of the conservation and restoration laboratories at Open Care. Entering the premises means immersing oneself in beauty and taking an enthralling stroll through the history of art. In the 500 square metres dedicated to antique paintings and contemporary art, with climate control and state-of-the-art technologies, we were able to see extraordinary works spanning from the seventeenth century to the latest Venice Biennale. Amongst these were a magniﬁcent sacred late-Baroque piece by Francesco Solimena, a perturbing portrait of Guercino and ﬂowers, the passion of Flemish artist Abraham Brueghel, returned to all their primitive glory by Open Care’s skilled restoration work. The same goes for the priceless sixteenth-century “Cristo in
OPEN CARE SPECIALISTS USE THE MOST ADVANCED INSTRUMENTS Croce” in papier-mâché, ready to be returned to the church of saints Peter and Paul in Muggiò, much to the regret of Isabella Villafranca Soissons. After over a year of painstaking work, saying goodbye to such an intense and moving work of art is not easy for the restorers, who develop a very powerful and special relationship with the object of their skilled cures. Yet the most complex and absorbing challenge for restorers, as the director tells us, is represented by works of modern and contemporary art. We see a number of gems waiting for the specialists to take care of them, dating from the ’40s to the present day: among them, a beautiful work by De Pisis from 1941 and two terracotta pieces by Lucio Fontana dated 1956-1958, disﬁgured by an inappropriate restoration carried out in the past. There is also a plexiglas lamp from 1962, a perceptive divertissement by Gianni Colombo, master of kinetic art; a fascinating “Tappeti Natura” that Piero Gilardi produced in 1965, expanded polyurethane sculptures which reproduce environmental fragments with playful realism; and a breathtaking Turcato presented at the 1996 Venice Biennale from the fascinating series of “Moon Surfaces” in foam rubber. Thrilled by the sight of one of Enrico Castellani’s large extroﬂexed canvases, an exciting example of his poetry of “different repetition”, our guide brings us back to earth by explaining that it is works like these that represent an exercise in technique and inventive skill for restorers, who have to create experimental methods to re-weave and re-sew the surfaces using structures made purposely for the job. The analysis and treatment of plastic materials, as is often the case when restoring contemporary art, can be extremely complex, and sometimes they cannot be solved. Such is the case with several works in urethane rubber which the restorers of Open Care are currently monitoring: these works are subject to uncontainable deterioration, until they slowly implode. In order to control this frontier of conservation, Open Care is participating as a partner in the masters’ course on polymer synthesis at the Plart in Naples, a museum and a research
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centre dedicated to plastic and its restoration. Continuing on our way, we discover other workshops, of great interest for the beauty of the artworks being restored and for the surprisingly technological equipment used. Such is the case in the department dedicated to tapestries and textiles, which has two consolidation and washing areas. Both are climate-controlled and ﬁltered, and have a special tank for works measuring up to 45 square metres. Open Care followed many restorations of historical works belonging to major institutions. Including the extensive work carried out at Milan’s Villa Necchi Campiglio, a gem belonging to the Fondo Ambiente Italiano, Italy’s national heritage fund. Open Care oversaw the restoration of much of the furnishings, plasterwork and upholstery, providing an exceptional training ground that involved specialists from all departments. Thanks to Open Care, today we can admire the magniﬁcence of the green velvet cape with silver and gold embroidery worn by Napoleon to the coronation ceremony as King of Italy in Milan’s Duomo on 26 May 1805 at the city’s Risorgimento Museum. Among the masterpieces of ancient art history, one should not forget the work done in 2008 on Giovanni Bellini’s “Sacra Conversazione Dolﬁn” dated 1507, now restored to its original glory. One of the most recent tasks is the complex operation involving the tapestry of “La battaglia di Ponte Milvio”, a masterpiece by skilled Belgian weavers belonging to the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio, now displayed at Milan’s Museo Diocesano as part of the exhibition dedicated by Palazzo Reale to the anniversary of Constantine’s Edict of 313 A.D. Our magical tour ends in the laboratory of scientiﬁc instruments, where we are greeted by an extraordinary astronomical telescope manufactured in 1880. One of the three most powerful instruments of its time, formerly housed in the Brera Observatory, the telescope is almost entirely restored and returned to working order by the master craftsmen of Arass Brera, who were given hospitality in the laboratories of Open Care, and is now awaiting a location worthy of its beauty and history.
Above, “La battaglia di Ponte Milvio” (1660-1667), a wool and silk tapestry (330x318 cm) produced by Willem (Guillam) val Leefdael from a cartoon by Abraham van Diepenbeck (collection of Milan’s Museo Diocesano). In this image we can admire the work after Open Care’s restoration. Opposite page, the laboratory for the conservation and restoration of paintings and multi-material works.
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A CALLING TO AGRONOMY Isabella Dalla Ragione in the village of Casalini, looking for fruit trees to save from extinction. A mission that has also an anthropological value.
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A woman with deep ties to her homeland and her roots. Literally. Isabella Dalla Ragione’s calling to agronomy goes beyond a mere profession; for over twenty years, she has dedicated herself body and soul to supporting the Associazione Archeologia Arborea (tree archaeology association), established with her father in 1989 at San Lorenzo di Lerchi, in the province of Perugia. The name of this unusual association in itself hints at work that is painstaking, signiﬁcant and archaic. A world far removed from the hurried pace and ephemeral occupations of life today, the mesh of a net which is almost impossible to avoid getting caught in. Yet in this corner of Umbria, with its untamed, spellbinding beauty, time slows down and takes a step back, allowing nature to join up the threads of memory. The association’s main goal is to save historic fruit tree varieties from extinction. They are recovered, through thorough and solitary research, from abandoned farms, the sites of villages no longer standing, old mansions, gardens and orchards of churches and monasteries, cloistered ones in particular. They are then grafted and cultivated using traditional methods on the San Lorenzo di Lerchi farming estate, which covers approximately eight hectares of land. But the safeguarding and conservation work involves more than botany alone; it is also of substantial value from a cultural and anthropological standpoint, as it aims to reconstruct the role these trees played in the social and economic life of days gone by. Information is gleaned with the help of elderly farmers (the last remaining custodians of a farming knowledge that is almost entirely lost) but also by consulting old herbaria and manuals on toponymy and land cultivation. It is an arduous task, as impervious as the trails covered by Isabella and her
Environment and landscape
IN SEARCH OF THE LOST
TREES by Lara Lo Calzo
FOR ISABELLA DALLA RAGIONE, GETTING HER HANDS DIRTY IS MORE THAN JUST A JOB , IT’S GIVING NEW LIFE TO TREES DESTINED TO OBLIVION
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Environment and landscape
AN ARDUOUS TASK
ages; some date back to the Renaissance or even earlier, but father. Not least because it has to be done quickly, against they all bear fruits, and some are now unique one-offs. Each progress that, bit by bit, eats away hectares of tradition, tree has a plate bearing its own colourful name: Pesca Sanagainst the spread of mankind which relegates these silent, guinella (Blood Peach), Susina Scosciamonaca (Nun’s Thigh gnarled witnesses of days-gone-by to the role of refugees Plums), Fico Asinaccio (Donkey Fig) and Pera Briaca (Drunfrom the past. In fact, the specimens collected here tell us ken Pear). Names that are instantly appealing and even arouse the story of a time when fruit trees, cultivated essentially for a feeling of fondness. Perhaps it is for this reason that Isabella domestic use, served more than one purpose: not only were Dalla Ragione has resorted to unusual means to support her they a nourishment, a medical remedy and a valuable source work, such as long distance adoption: with a small donation of wood, but they were also the dowry of country brides. to the association (which is a nonproﬁt organisation), anyone Accordingly they rightfully belong to the historical, cultural can sponsor the Mela Muso di Bue (Ox Face Apple) or other and landscape heritage of the local people. specimens that live on this fairytale land. The only duty of In 1997, Livio and Isabella also published a book entitled the sponsors is to visit the chosen tree at least once a year and Archeologia arborea. Diario di due cercatori di piante (Arboreal to bring it a symbolic gift. In return they are entitled to the Archeology, a diary of two fruit explorers), reprinted several tiharvest, except for three fruits, one for the Sun, one for the mes since then. In it they tell the story of their outstanding Earth and one for the tree, just as custom once had it. experience in biodiversity, arousing the interest of internaThere is something poetic tional publications such as the about the noble work that New Yorker, which dedicated Isabella continues today them one of their illustrious without her father, who front covers a few years after. passed away a few years Isabella then went on to write ago. She does it with little other books, but without ever help but plenty of motilosing sight of her cause to vation, perseverance and a care personally for these frahealthy dose of fatalism. In gile “orphans”, giving them a her case, getting her hands new home, tending to them dirty to give new life to trees with passion and sacrifices, destined to oblivion is more and making them fertile once than just a job. But when the again. The orchard-collection earth is loved with sincerity which has been put together and dedication, it always reover the years numbers appays the effort. As Charles proximately 400 specimens Dickens wrote, “Train up a of different species, including PRESERVING NATURE ﬁg tree in the way it should apple, pear, cherry, plum, ﬁg, Above, grafting a red apple on a new trunk. Top, from left, Isabella go, and when you are old sit almond and medlar, in 150 Dalla Ragione identifying fruits in old herbaria; young suckers of historical fruit varieties. Opposite page, «budding» young trees. under the shade of it”. varieties. They are of different
RESISTING AGAINST THE SPREAD OF MANKIND THAT RELEGATES THESE GNARLED WITNESSES OF THE PAST TO THE ROLE OF SILENT REFUGEES
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ULRIKE’S AN ENCOUNTER WITH MS. DEDERER, THE FIRST WOMAN TO ENTER THE HALL OF FAME
The discipline of violinmaking calls for precision and patience in shaping the wood and modelling it with gouges, scrapers and planes so small they look like tools for a doll’s house. Just a few microns of an auroral amber varnish are applied on the surface, the composition of which is the personal, secret and precious alchemy of each violin maker. In spite of the fact that this craft requires typically feminine skills and sensitivity, in history violin makers have almost always been men. Yet in Cremona, last September, the International Triennial Competition promoted by the Fondazione Antonio Stradivari saw Ulrike Dederer win ﬁrst prize in the viola category. She is the ﬁrst woman to enter the list of honours of the world’s most important violinmaking exhibition, so important it is considered an authentic Olympiad. “Receiving the award on the stage of the Ponchielli Theatre was an indescribable feeling!” she recalls. “This success represents a great achievement for my violinmaking, it is one of the world’s most prestigious accolades.” A victory that crowns a passion that has endured since childhood: “I started playing the cello when I was 9. At 16, on a trip to Wales with my city’s youth orchestra, I visited a school for luthiers. I was fascinated. So after my high school diploma I moved to Cremona to attend the International VioLeft, Ulrike Dederer in her Zurich atelier. Top, the viola made by the gold medal winner at the XIII International Triennial Competition of Stringed Instruments “Antonio Stradivari”, 2013. Opposite page, exhibition of the instruments of the competition at Cremona’s Violin Museum. * Director of the Fondazione Antonio Stradivari, Cremona
by Virginia Villa*
VIOLAS OF THE WORLD’S MOST IMPORTANT AND SELECTIVE VIOLINMAKING EXHIBITION
PHOTOS CRISTIAN CHIODELLI
lin Making School, where I was trained by Maestro Vincenzo Bissolotti.” She then went on to study restoration in Vienna. “In 2005 I returned to Zurich and set up my workshop. That was when I went back to making new instruments: it’s the most interesting part of this profession.” Today, Ulrike’s atelier is in the attic of the house where she lives with her husband Felix, a mathematician, and their three children Lisa, Susanna and Adrian. Violins, moulds and tools all hang on the walls, whilst the shelves are full of little jars of resins, oils and pigments. Were it not for the modern table lamp, it could well be a workshop from 100 or 200 years ago. Hardly a surprise if one considers that violins are still built by hand, from beginning to end. “Usually I make four instruments a year, but there will
be more in 2013. Violinmaking is a living art, and my work is constantly evolving. Musicians, colleagues and historical and scientiﬁc publications constantly stimulate and inﬂuence my style. I try to express the present time and my personality into each instrument. It’s a bit like the topic of love in literature. Shakespeare investigated this emotion thoroughly, but people still continue to write about it, because every age has a different approach and a different vocabulary. By the same token, every period in history has its sound, even for stringed instruments.” Style, on the other hand, is inspired by Cremona’s great masters of the past: “I am fascinated by the elegance of the instruments made by the Amati family, especially by the brothers Antonio and Girolamo. I would like my instruments to have the same formal balance and an equally harmonious silhouette. In the varnish, too, I look for the same intensity, shine and transparency. But, above all, the quality of sound must be smooth, the emission prompt, and the notes must reach every corner of the concert hall.” Ulrike deﬁnes her approach “analytical and cerebral, although I always put my heart in it.” “Reasoning,” she explains, “is necessary in every stage of the process. Speciﬁc guidelines and the methodology of the great violin makers have to be followed. But then I also let my experience and intuition guide me. In choosing the wood, you must feel the resonance and the magic of the sound.” Once again, Shakespeare comes to mind: “We are such stuff,” says Prospero in The Tempest, “as dreams are made on.” When they take shape, they become works of art. In an attic a stone’s throw from the Zurich sky, Ulrike’s dreams are turned into violins, violas and cellos with an extraordinary voice.
IN THE HEART OF MILAN, VILLA IS AN ATELIER THAT TAILORS JEWELS: EXCELLENCE EXPRESSED IN UNIQUE DESIGNS AND THE MOST PRECIOUS GEMS
b y Va l e n t i n a C e r i a n i photos by Laila Pozzo
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ATELIER of haute joaillerie AN INDISSOLUBLE UNION Depending on the desired result, pure molten gold is mixed with other metals to obtain an 18 carat gold alloy. The gold alloyed by Villa at its workshop carries the identiďŹ cation mark 49 Mi, one of the oldest in Italy (Gioielleria Villa, via Manzoni 23, Milan, tel. +39.02.804279; www.villa.it).
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At the junction of two of Milan’s main fashion thoroughfares lies a well-concealed yet thriving business. Even those who think they know every corner of the city might be forced to think again. Far from indiscreet eyes, it shines with a light of its own. It creates culture. It boasts a tradition dating back over a century and gives the gift of pleasure. Its DNA is strictly Italian, but the atmosphere inside is more reminiscent of a Parisian atelier. Because this is where haute couture jewellery is made. Welcome to the atelier of Villa jewellers, where every idea is made priceless. A tireless forge of creativity, where execution is the essential value of an aesthetic approach that reaches peaks of perfection. One moves glibly amidst the most precious gems in the world: diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, tourmalines, peridots and lapis lazuli, to name but a few. The nonchalance with which the master artisans (four jewellers, one stone setter and one who does both) handle and pass these gemstones from hand to hand is surprising. Given their value we are more used to viewing them with a certain amount of reverential awe. Yet for them they hold no secrets; they reveal themselves in all their simplicity, and their intimate essence inspires the creativity of Filippo Villa. For in fact he is the one who designs structures, lines and proﬁles that exalt the beauty of each gemstone to the full, producing incredible pieces of haute joaillerie which have made this Milanese shop a reference point for true connoisseurs. He is the one who conducts the orchestra of the atelier’s master artisans, who - on the ﬂoor just above - mix and mould the precious materials in the right proportions, so that the ﬁnal result is the perfect combination of the aesthetic concepts of balance and harmony. The jewellers work with the gold, the alloys of which are produced in the atelier itself. Its identiﬁcation code is 49 Mi, one of the oldest in Italy. They also work with platinum and, at times, iridium. All of them are shaped and formed and turned into the soul of the jewels, the setting that will at ﬁrst receive the gemstones, and then become virtually invisible. The height of style is to make the structure as light as possible, almost airy. “Engineering
at its purest state,” says Filippo Villa, “and the day we will manage to do without gold and platinum and use gemstones only, that will be a great day...” The jewellers shape the gold and prepare the structure where the gemstones will be set. It is easy to make out what will soon become a dazzling pavé. The unit of measure is as minute as one hundredth of a millimetre, and precision is of paramount importance. The jeweller then passes the
IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE IDEA Above, fox terrier in onyx, white agate, jasper with onyx batons set in gold. Top, Filippo Villa, creative mind of the company. Opposite page, 1.Rubber moulds for the archive. 2. Finishing a gold wedding ring. 3.Setting a skull with diamonds. 4. The stone setter chooses the gemstones using callipers. 5.Stones and materials for cufﬂinks. 6.Casting gold. 7.Positioning the aquamarines for a pair of chandelier earrings and a model with 28 diamonds. 8.Using a pen, the jeweller marks the points where the diamonds will be set on a ring with a cabochon ruby. 9.The archive plaster moulds of the jewellery produced in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s.
structure to the setter, who secures the jewel on a plaster support and, with a very steady hand, adapts the holes to the carat size of the different stones and earrings, rings, necklaces and bracelets will start to glow. A ring studded with gemstones requires around 50 hours of work, half by the jeweller and half h by the setter. A pair of gem-studded earrings b ccan require up to 250 hours of work. Two ttechniques are used to set the stones; one ssecures them with small prongs, the other cconsists in pressing down the metal around
the gems to render it invisible. The craftsman’s skill requires the utmost attention; at times one stone alone takes 20 minutes to set, and the real proof of the master’s skill is always the ﬁnal result. The product must shine evenly, the light must be uniform, otherwise it means that not all the gemstones have been set in a way that respects the shape of the piece of jewellery. Then it goes back to the jewellers, who use ﬁles for the ﬁnishing touch, removing impurities with surgical precision, without touching the stones. This very quest for perfection becomes a stimulus within the Villa atelier. Nothing is improvised here, everything is conceived to ensure that the ﬁnished jewel is perfect and harmonious. It is not hard to perceive the passion that drives the ﬁve artisans, the gestures of which are well calibrated, revealing great skill and experience. Years of training with a veteran of the profession has allowed them to attain levels of knowledge in a profession that has all the right credentials to be called a métier d’art. Fabio, the boss, Mauro, his brother, Alice, the only woman and a specialist in cufﬂinks, Marco the stone setter and Ivanov, who works on various fronts, consider themselves very lucky to know the secrets of the Villa atelier’s mine of creativity. A niche atelier, and one that boasts its own in-house wrokshop: “It’s the only way you can have everything under control, including creativity, style and quality. Our workshop combines beauty and excellence,” explains Filippo Villa. A workshop where every prototype further enhances the already sizeable archive: “In the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, my father produced plaster moulds of the jewels he had just made, so he could keep a record of all the work he had done. Today they provide a constant source of inspiration for us. It is just the same as fashion; everything comes around again, clearly reworked and up-dated according to the trends and materials of the moment.” Thus the pieces that have written the history of designer jewellery and whose uniqueness has made the difference are preserved for posterity. The sartorial nature of the jewels results in gems that are made-to-measure, ensuring they are one-offs. It is easy to see an attempt at immortalising the image of perfection in a resin cast. The perfection of Gioielleria Villa.
IMMORTAL BEAUTY Above, hedgehog cufﬂinks in fossilised palm wood, jade batons set in yellow gold. Top, the stone setter works on an earring with a lilac amethyst, sapphires and diamonds: he uses a rigid plaster support on which the piece of jewellery is secured, so that he may exercise the necessary force when working on it. Opposite page, a number of sketches by Filippo Villa of the Gothic earrings with heliodores, green tsavorites and diamonds set in gold.
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Business and talent
ELEMENTS OF STYLE Wood takes centre stage in Giorgetti furnishings, and is selected with care to ensure high quality standards are met. This page, a stack of pau ferro wood dries at the Giorgetti plant in Meda. Opposite page, during the assembly phase, the leg of a Progetti chair is attached to the frame with clamps.
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FURNISHING DESIGN The hands of the master artisan mould the material and give form to an idea. Raw ebony planks are transformed into the furniture that has made Giorgettiâ€™s all-Italian tradition famous in the world.
Business and talent
The natural curing process will ensure the wood planks are stable, ﬂexible and ﬁt to withstand subsequent production phases
An intense scent of wood. The roughness of the raw material, as yet untreated. The sound of hands that saw, smooth and shape. Little by little, the idea takes form. In the background, a classical symphony accompanies the master’s gestures, transforming his manual work into a harmonious dance. Each skilled movement is linked to the next, and each single gesture is essential to the whole. The dance is meticulously choreographed by Giorgetti, the renowned furniture company whose history is intertwined with the true essence of Italian production. Undisputed creativity in its purest form meets masterly manufacturing skills. As a result, aesthetics and ethics combine to create the ﬁnest pieces of furniture. Whose outward appearance appeals to the eye, whilst its interior, its soul, holds the details that make the difference, the elements that have brought Giorgetti to the top level of Italian excellence. Giorgetti reveals its centenary tradition in the ﬁeld of furnishings, an inevitable fact for a company whose history is linked to that of Brianza, an area renowned for skilled cabinet-making and exquisite furniture. Giorgetti was founded in 1898 as
THE ESSENCE OF QUALITY Above, it takes ﬁve weeks to produce the Progetti armchair, which is made of 16 components. Below, left to right, wooden planks are hand-marked using templates; wooden legs that have been moulded, contoured and perforated before they are assembled and polished. Opposite page, boards of Canaletto walnut are carefully selected, to pick the best part of the wood.
an artisan cabinet-making workshop in Meda, and has maintained its heritage of know-how, which it up-dates as new needs arise; accordingly, manual skills have been complemented by technology, with total respect for both parties. Where one ends, the other begins, they harmonise, the work maintains its artisan essence, and the output is high-quality products. Timeless objects that survive fads, they represent Giorgetti’s ability to create pieces of furniture that can be compared to works of art. Designer creations take form in Giorgetti ateliers thanks to the work of skilled hands: chairs, armchairs, bookshelves, bergères, coffee tables, sofas and accessories go beyond their very nature, and encompass the substance of multiple skills. “The process by which wood becomes a ﬁnished product starts with the rough boards cut from the trunks,” explains Carlo Giorgetti, the company’s chairman, “which are stacked on our premises, under large well-ventilated porticos, protected from the elements. They are left there to cure for a period ranging from six months to a year. In subsequent steps, the humidity level is stabilised and the wood can then
94 The entire production process takes place in Italy, and each item has a certiﬁcate that guarantees every phase, from the design to the ﬁnal product
be processed.” The untreated raw material comes to life when a balance is struck between manual skill and technology, and passion to round it off. The planks arrive in the sawmill, where they are marked by hand using a number of templates for legs, armrests, shafts, tops and any other part that is necessary to make Giorgetti furniture. After the wood is roughly cut, highly sophisticated, specialised machines mould, contour and perforate the various components, preparing them for assembly and subsequent polishing, which is done with water-based varnishes. The Canaletto walnut, for example, is polished with an open-pore ﬁnish that gives the product a pleasant tactile sensation. “Everything is carried out with the utmost care, to guarantee the standards of quality that we consider indispensable,” Giorgetti continues. “Quality is controlled in every step of the production cycle, from the workshop down to the shipping department. All our products are accompanied by documents certifying their design, processing, production and originality. An identiﬁcation form speciﬁes all the materials that make up the piece. It certiﬁes the date of production, the signature of the quality control manager and that the product is made and manufactured in Italy.” Just as in the haute
PLAYING FIRST CHAIR Below, armchair from the Mobius collection designed by Umberto Asnago (2013), wood structure with fabric or leather upholstery. Below, left to right, moulding the junction between seat and leg of a Progetti armchair; the upholstery is sown on an Arabella armchair. Opposite page, fabric is steam-ironed to give the ﬁnishing touch to a Progetti armchair (www.giorgetti.eu, tel. +39.0362.75275).
couture ateliers, tailoring gives added value to Giorgetti products. Thus the wooden frames of the armchairs and sofas are sent to a department where they are ﬁtted with a padding made from the very ﬁnest materials; when they are ready to don their suits, in fabric, leather of cowhide, they are sent to the department where the upholstery is cut and sown. Finishing touches such as steam ironing will give the product that special mark of impeccability that is typical of Giorgetti furnishings, which include Progetti, Fabula, Denny, Corium, Ion, Lia and Nyn. These products are the offspring of experience and tradition, born of the ingenious creativity of designers that have worked with the company for many years, including Massimo Scolari, Umberto Asnago, Laura Silvestrini and Chi Wing Lo, not to mention the latest additions such as Massimo Castagna, Carlo Colombo, Rossella Pugliatti, Toshiyuki Kita, Design Mvw - Xu Ming & Virginie Moriette.Today, internationalisation is an integral part of Giorgetti’s strategy. It exports its centuries-old cabinet-making tradition around the world, blending experience with scrupulous attention to quality: the ingredients that have distinguished Giorgetti in the furniture industry. (Valentina Ceriani)
Business and talent
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PETALS VAN CLEEF & ARPELS ASSIGNED A PROJECT TO 19 STUDENTS OF THE CREATIVE ACADEMY: REPRESENT THE POETRY OF THE MAISON IN FLOWERS AND VASES CREATED FROM PAPER, PLASTIC OR METAL. MENTORED BY GREAT ARTISANS by Edoardo Perri*
* designer and founder of Whomade.it, curator of the project on behalf of the Creative Academy and the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art
THE ELEGANCE OF THE CALLA Above, the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique at 10, via Pietro Verri, Milan, where the work of the students will be displayed during the Salone del Mobile. Opposite, a project inspired by the elegance of the calla lily.
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98 97 Regardless of its form, any type of content will always need a container in which to be arranged and presented. By the same token, the container itself asks to be ﬁlled to fulﬁl its raison d’être. A vase contains, a vase collects and preserves. But what would a vase be without its own ﬂowers? Two interdependent elements that express their essence in complementing one another. A tale full of poetry, involving a constant ﬂow of dependent exchanges and mutual references. To design a ﬂower vase, therefore, is like imagining a dialogue between two lovers, creating a relationship which will probably change both parties. From this starting point the prestigious Maison Van Cleef & Arpels asked 19 talented students on the Master of Arts in Design course at the Creative Academy to express their own vision of the theme “Les Fleurs Enchantées-Blooming Creativity”, designing a vase with creative, oneiric ﬂowers. Indeed, the task for the students is not to reproduce fresh-cut ﬂowers, but to create (with the help of great maîtres d’art) every detail of their imaginary compositions, which will then be constructed using paper, plastic or metal according to each student’s speciﬁc artistic inspiration. The outstanding set for this creative springtime is the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique at 10, Via Verri in Milan. To mark the 2013 edition of the Salone Intenazionale del Mobile, from 9 to 14 April the boutique is opening its doors to art and design enthusiasts, to display the works produced by the student of the Creative Academy, an international school that the Richemont Group founded in Milan in 2003. Each year it trains talents that specialise in designing luxury objects, particularly jewellery, watches and high-end fashion accessories. In the romantic universe of Van Cleef & Arpels (the Maison itself was born from the love between Estelle Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef ) the ﬂower vase project assigned to the designers provided the stimulus for creative reﬂections on the dialectic relationship between
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objects, and the vitality and poetry they manage to convey to us, communicating the human essence and energy of their creators. The students developed their projects in the course of an intense didactic programme deﬁned with the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art, under the artistic direction of Edoardo Perri and Dario Riva of Whomade-Design for the Avant-craft. The students were supported in their creative work by a selection of Milan’s master craftsmen, who were involved in the project. The masters, skilled in artisan and artistic techniques that range from working with paper and light metals to laser technologies for cutting fabrics, leather and precious wood, were entrusted with the designs and creations for the exhibition. The master of paper arts is Caterina Crepax, meticulous organiser and bold tamer of paper, that she craftily cuts, folds, curls, pleats and weaves. Ironic and cultured Gherardo Frassa is the sophisticated florist and gardener superintending sheet metals and tools, for tin ﬂowers. One-off, an atelier specialised in prototyping and laser-cut decoration, is in charge of incisions, cuts and the reproduction of the tiniest detail. Franco Cologni, President of the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art that promoted and organised the project together with Van Cleef & Arpels, underlines that “it is thanks to the hands of our master craftsmen that objects are manufactured which the world still admires; it is thanks to the hands of our designers that sophisticated designs are created; and it is thanks to the hands that open each day to welcome ideas, creativity and inspiration that we manage to maintain our role as renaissance cradle”. The novel ﬂower vases, made in the workshops of the three Maîtres d’art called upon to work with the students, and which will be showcased during Milan design week, represent the fruitful encounter of design and craft. An encounter by means of which it is possible to develop creative theories on objects that communicate and tell a story; theories on the communicating vessels that lift the weight off our shoulders and take us far away, standing with eyes closed, clutching a scented ﬂower in our hands.
THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE OBJECTS AND THE PASSION THEY EXPRESS INSIPIRES VISIONARY CREATIONS
A POWERFUL ONEIRIC EXPRESSION On these pages, Van Cleef & Arpels iconic butterﬂies, colours, sinuous and mobile forms were transﬁgured by the students of the Creative Academy, becoming the elements of chimerical ﬂowers and vases.
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OF ST. PETERSBURG St. Petersburg may have the Hermitage, one of the world’s greatest art galleries, and its Russian Museum does house the biggest collection of Russian art in the country. Yet for those who have the courage, the enthusiasm and the time to venture beyond the traditional touristy fare, Russia’s northern capital has a wealth of hidden wonders that offer thrilling insights into the Russian artistic heritage. by
SECRETS OF THE TSARS Opposite page, detail of the gates of St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace. A typical example of Baroque art, the building was modiﬁed four times. The last by Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli and was completed in 1762. It was one of the residences of the Romanovs, and is today part of the Hermitage museum complex, home to one of the world’s most important art collections.
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Russian classical ballet was born in St. Petersburg. The Imperial Ballet School was founded here on 4th May 1738 by the order of Empress Anna Ioannovna, and was directed by the French ballet master Jean-Baptiste Landé. The repertoire of the Mariinsky Theatre is still dominated by ballets like “Swan Lake”, “The Sleeping Beauty” and other choreographies by another Frenchman, Marius Petipa, who arrived at the academy in 1847. The State Museum of Theatre and Music documents the lives of some of Russia’s ﬁnest ballet dancers and houses exciting exhibitions dedicated to the signature ballet productions, complete with fascinating stage costumes and personal relics of great dancers as well as theatrical sketches by artists of the calibre of Leo Bakst and Konstantin Korovin. › St. Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music 6, Ploshchad Ostrovskogo • www.theatremuseum.ru
The impressive façade of the Stieglitz Academy for Art and Design is decorated with allegoric sculptures symbolizing different arts, and in the centre stands a ﬁgure of a robust man dressed in worker’s clothes. The worker is Maximilian Mesmacher, the architect of the prestigious academy, which was nicknamed “the academy of mastery” owing to the highest qualiﬁcations of its coaches. The Academy was established in the 19th century by one of the most prominent personalities in Russia. “The name Alexander Stieglitz is as internationally famous as that of the Rothchilds,” wrote a Russian newspaper in the 1850s. Stieglitz, who was born in 1814 and died in 1884, was one of Russia’s greatest
ﬁnanciers and played a crucial role in the stabilization of the Russian rouble in the wake of the Napoleonic wars. Becoming the head of the Russian State Bank in the 1840s, Stieglitz was able to secure ﬁve crucial foreign loans at a time when conﬁdence in the Russian ﬁnancial system was badly shaken. The Stieglitz Academy boasts eclectic palatial interiors, with arched halls and painted ceilings, recognized as some of the ﬁnest in Russia’s former imperial capital. Its museum of applied art and design houses more than 2000 artefacts, including furniture, costumes, porcelain and ceramics. › Museum of Applied Art 13 Solyanoi Pereulok • www.stieglitzmuseum.ru
From luxurious ceremonial dinner services ordered by Catherine the Great to Bolshevik propaganda chess sets pitting nobles against Soviet workers and peasants, the St. Petersburg Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory documents the last 300 years of Russian porcelain making. Russia’s oldest producer of porcelain and one of the ﬁrst in Europe, the Imperial Porcelain Factory was established in 1744 by decree of Peter the Great’s daughter, Elizabeth. The Imperial Porcelain Factory was an exclusive supplier to the Romanov family and its noble relatives. The museum was founded a century later by Emperor Nicholas I, with donations from the Winter Palace and other royal residences. Open to the public, the museum was nevertheless a fashionable destination for Russia’s nobility. But in the Soviet period, when it was renamed the M.V. Lomonosov State Porcelain Factory, the museum instituted a closed-door policy, restric-
ting access to factory workers and privileged guests. “In Tsarist Russia, the factory and later a visit to its museum was a special treat for the royal family guests who were taken there and received porcelain masterpieces as gifts,” says the museum’s director Tatyana Kudryavtseva. In the Soviet era, exclusive access became the rule. The museum’s guest books read like a “Who’s Who” of Rus-
sian history, with the autographs of the Romanovs, of poets Sergei Yesenin, Vladimir Mayakovsky and Anna Akhmatova, and artist Kazimir Malevich. › The Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory 151 Prospekt Obukhovskoi Oborony • www.ipm-gallery.ru • www.hermitagemuseum.org
THE ECHO OF HISTORY At the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory, the luxurious ceremonial dinner services ordered by the Tsars (above) are on show along with decorative objects and Bolshevik propaganda chess sets from the post-revolutionary period. Opposite page, the State Museum of Theatre and Music is home to memorabilia once belonging to the greatest classical ballet dancers; one of the allegoric ﬁgures on the façade of the Stieglitz Academy.
St. Petersburg may not be your immediate association when you think of the world’s greatest hand-made watches. Therefore it is all the more surprising to discover the Petrodvorets Watch Factory, which was established by the decree of tsar Peter the Great in 1721 as a lapidary workshop that served the royal family. The factory’s museum boasts the world’s largest archive of watch designs: old aquarelle drawings for some of the very ﬁrst designs, and sketches of the new designs inspired by the historic works. On display there is also historic equipment, some of which is unique to the factory as well as vast numbers of mechanic watches. The museum reopens in May after a lengthy renovation, and the excursions will be free of charge. › Petrodvorets Watch Factory Museum Petrodvorets, 60 Sankt-Peterburgsky Prospekt • www.raketa.com
Sometimes the genre of the objects displayed at the St. Petersburg doll museum is rather hard to deﬁne, and at ﬁrst glance, many visitors hesitate to call them dolls. Some of them have porcelain heads and sophisticated dresses embroidered by hand, while some others, like, for instance, dragonﬂies or ﬁsh made of coloured plastic tubes, irregular cubes and balls are far too conceptual to be dismissed as toys. Exhibitions here rotate every month, and the items are made exclusively by St. Petersburg designers, many of whom are afﬁliated with local theatres and are themselves dedicated doll collectors. Alexander Borovsky, head of the department for contemporary art of the State Russian Museum, notes that the art of doll-making is particularly feminine and very Russian, harking back to folk-handicraft traditions. › Doll Museum 8 Kamskaya Ulitsa • www.museumdolls.ru
Once an efﬁcient propaganda instrument, political posters of the Soviet era are now displayed at the State Museum of the Political History of Russia as works of art. Graphic, bright and compelling, Soviet posters are often viewed as the quintessence of an epoch, reﬂecting the way that the country’s rulers addressed the governed. Through the images of posters, the audiences can see how the state encouraged people, and what it did to make them feel optimistic about their future. In the tireless struggle for the hearts and minds of ordinary people, no object was considered too insigniﬁcant. Factory workers made ink pots in the shape of a woman reading Stalin’s historical works or embroidering a Soviet ﬂag. Tea sets were stamped with heroic revolutionary leaders. Dishes were emblazoned with scenes from grand communist projects such as the Baikal-Amur Main Line
railroad. These items, designed by some of Russia’s ﬁnest artists, are on display at the museum. Indeed, in the 1920s, legendary avant-garde artists Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Lyubov Popova, Vasily Kandinsky and Malevich developed sketches for propaganda art products. “This kind of propaganda was particularly important during the ﬁrst years of the Revolution,” says Irina Vazhinska-
ya, head of the museum’s art department. “Propagandists had to transform the mentality of the people and make them accept new political ideas and a new lifestyle. The ﬁrst Soviet propaganda art was created by some of the most talented and acclaimed artists in the country.” › State Museum of the Political History of Russia 2-4 Ulitsa Kuibysheva • www.polithistory.ru
UP CLOSE The State Museum of the Political History of Russia boasts a sizeable collection of propaganda artworks (above), often by well-known artists. Opposite page, the Museum of the Petrodvorets watch factory has a vast archive of designs and drawings; the Doll Museum regularly hosts theme exhibitions that are set up by big-name designers.
nowledge and know-how. Assets worth defending, to ensure they remain unaffected by the ups-and-downs of the stock exchange, and to prevent them from being sold off in ﬁnancial transactions that cannot put a ﬁgure to the real value of a ﬁnished product. This is why Europe has to safeguard and promote the extraordinary skills behind production
ONLY PASSION GIVES MEANING TO WORK
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n g o l o
Theodor Adorno once wrote that “freedom would be not to choose between black and white but to abjure such prescribed choices”. It is an approach that clearly reﬂects our current situation; instead of looking for a fertile combination of complementary principles, we often end up working in one direction only. Yet in so doing, we frustrate the blossoming of riches that diversity can offer. When examining our economic model (not just Italy’s, but that of many European countries too), we tend to think in terms of opposing forces: industry versus craftsmanship, digital versus manual, and so on. Yet this economic model does not reﬂect the growth prospects of a country like Italy, where the economy is also based on culture; not just culture in terms of museum heritage, but also of its priceless legacy of “savoir-faire”, a knowledge that encompasses conceptual and productive skills. Culture and work, or rather the culture of work, where work is not done by faceless insects but by human beings who dedicate their lives and creative talents to achieving a functional perfection that makes history as much as creativity itself. Economist Stefano Micelli reports that Chris Anderson, former Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine, predicts that the next industrial revolution will be fronted by a new generation of small businesses which combine cutting-edge technology with craftsmanship. Their aim will be to offer limited editions, innovative products that
can be tailored to suit customers’ needs. But if we think about it, it is something that is already happening and indeed already producing results in many of the ﬁelds in which Italy excels: fashion, design, shipbuilding and jewellery to name but a few. Over the years, many of our businesses, often small family-run outﬁts, have been signed up as key partners of luxury groups. They come to Italy to have shoes, bags, suits, and jewellery made; not just for Italy’s unrivalled craftsmanship, but also because in this country they (still!) ﬁnd skilled craftsmen that can develop technique and art. They offer an ability to innovate which goes hand-in-hand with the safeguard of a centuries-old legacy of culture and craftsmanship. Of course, nobody can claim craftsmanship as their exclusive domain. But in Europe, and indeed worldwide, there are areas where certain techniques have become part of the local lifeblood. You breathe it in the air and see it in the eyes and hands of the people; districts where the combination of matter and imagination generates magniﬁcent objects, the functional and creative expression of craft and ingeniousness. Perhaps the potential for growth lies in this merging of technology and craftsmanship, design culture and interpretation, perspective and historical knowledge, an opportunity for those aware that the future is about looking beyond a reality in black and white, to ﬁnd solutions that are new, creative and made-to-measure. Customised solutions are required for everchanging needs, even when they are as old as mankind itself. They include the need to identify with an object that reﬂects who we are, made with techniques that are not just crude actions but actually transform the material, looking beyond immediate proﬁt and investing in resources of the future. Resources such as knowledge and know-how which are unaffected by the ups-and-downs of the stock exchange; resources which cannot be sold off in bland financial buying-and-selling processes which overlook the value of passion, the only truly meaningful aspect of work itself.
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ARTS & CRAFTS & DESIGN
The European days: Mendini La Pietra, Sabattini and the women in workshops
FlorilĂ¨ge, the masterpieces by the artisans of Vacheron Constantin
Giorgetti and Linley the secrets of noble wood
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