Is it true? Do images represent our personality?


Is it true? Do images represent our personality?

It is always hard to talk about yourself because it entails laying your life bare. When people decide to do that they usually use reminiscences and images as tools to piece together fragments of their own experiences. But memory is irregular and repeatedly staggered. Even if it gives us the possibility to live again moments from the past, most of the times the chronological order gets lost and what comes out is a ‘map’ of ourselves, consisted of feelings that do not follow a linear path.

Citofonare Trombetta (“Ring Trombetta’s Doorbell”) – the 7th Wonder-Room opening, curated by Studio Blanco after a seasonal project break – echoed this thought.

The show displayed the iconographic cues and materials (photos, Polaroids, negatives, prints), which cover Vicky Trombetta’s overall creative process, related to his life, work and passions. Several pictures of different dimensions, set up in an apparently random order, were hung on the walls of an intimate venue that allowed visitors to have a glimpse into the personal and deep research of Vicky’s daily life.
The delicately colored images, all analogue and printed without any digital processing, remind vintage prints full of memory and represent the artist’s journal made of places and individuals that have filled his private and social life in the last two decades.
Through traditional photographic techniques Vicky Trombetta framed the past in his works and created pics, which preserve memory and time. Spontaneous faces – relatives, friends and models – caught by the photographer in a poetic, instinctive and intimate dimension welcomed in the exhibition space, arranged as a private house with a comfortable sofa. Guests could sit down and have a drink, chatting and enjoying the show immersed in an atmosphere of sharing and conviviality that reflects the Wonder-Room spirit.

The artist’s need of sharing conveyed not only through the atmosphere but also thanks to the idea of giving a piece of his collection to visitors, who could choose one shot from some boxes containing fifteen mini limited-edition silver prints (6 x 7,5 cm), printed in nine copies by Giancarlo Vaiarelli, a master of b&w hand printing.

People – without knowing exactly what the images represented – opted for what reflected their mood and, at the same time, maybe unconsciously, they took away a small part of Vicky’s ‘map’.

Monica Lombardi – images Paolo Simi courtesy of Wonder Room

Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

The Editorial: Trash Handcraft Treasure / Mexico

The Editorial: Trash Handcraft Treasure / Mexico

Mexican drugstores don’t sell rolls of film. Nice digital cameras, probably. But rolls of film, not so much. When you ask, shopkeepers seem always to give an expression that says “why on Earth would you still have any need for that?” It’s a surefire sign that the country is still pretty far from the cultural hegemony of hipster that we wondered about in May’s A Mexican Hipster & Her Acapulco Bike. Mexican culture marches on, as of yet diluted much less than most.

And like in India and China, two other nominally rich countries with exorbitant income disparities, handcraft in Mexico is alive and well. It’s an integral part of the country’s design patrimony – from musical instruments to pottery to hand-woven textiles. And there’s an honest unpretentiousness to all Mexican craft that makes even its cheapest examples something entirely different from the over-adorned, silky sparkly stuff in street markets around the world. Gorgeous hand-painted glassware, embroidered garments, hand-carved sculptures.

We came across a particularly upbeat artisan who makes elaborate decorative vases out of only scraps of meticulously cut-out paper from magazines. He spends his days creasing, placing, weaving at a table on a pedestrian sidewalk. Making pattern, form, shape and texture from former trash. And for his hours of hard work, he asks for almost nothing – one small piece that might take up to five hours is sold for no more than 3€.

He learned the technique from his father-in-law, but continues to develop it and play with new forms and ideas. Figurines. Perhaps water-tight paper weavings that could hold and keep flowers alive… Oh, possibility! His work has become more complex over time and he’s developed his own “style” (quite different from others who work with similar principles and material). And his trajectory seems uncannily like that of a classic designer-artisan like Lino Sabbatini: learn a material, experiment, then make it your own. Even if he works in as “poor” a material as recycled paper, good craft is good craft. And in a small way that this maker almost certainly doesn’t realise, his work is design.

Still, his son – who sat attentively by his side as we chatted – said he wants nothing to do with his father’s profession. He wants school. Knowledge. An improved life. His father wants it for him, too. And who can blame them? In a country relentlessly caught between rich and poor, upward mobility can be everything. Both of them have no doubt that there will be no paper folding in his future.

But we should hope that future generations don’t allow the tradition of Mexican handmade to fade away. If Mexico follows the pattern of other rich countries as its economic health continues to improve (and hopefully begins to be spread around more evenly), these one-man makers are likely to mostly disappear. But the country’s rich uniqueness is tied closely to these gorgeously lo-fi, refreshingly imperfect and unpretentious objects. They can be every bit as beautiful as a great number of good design pieces, but carry the extra validity of rich cultural context and skilled manual construction.

Their best hope for survival is probably a recognition by the rest of the world of their charm and distinctiveness, perhaps alongside a selling structure that would allow their makers a bit more to get by on. With a new generation of extraordinarily talented Mexican designers, artists and thinkers eager to steer a fresh course for their country’s cultural patrimony and place in the world, the question of handcraft’s should be a rather interesting one to tackle…

Tag Christof

Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Bruna Kazinoti – “Tribes” / Tank

Bruna Kazinoti – “Tribes” / Tank

“Now, here’s the sum total: One gang could run this city! One gang. Nothing would move without us allowing it to happen. We could tax the crime syndicates, the police, because WE’VE got the streets, suckers! Can you dig it?”

Those memorable lines of the 1979 American cult movie “The Warrior” have echoed through the past thirty years. The story of the chase and fight between the gangs on New York has inspired the stand out editorial “Tribe” in the brand new issue of Tank.

The editorial is not only inspired by the cult movie but also carries strong elements of the iconic Comme des Garçons campaigns from the 90`s and Yohji Yamamoto‘s minimalism. Put it all together and you’ve got “Tribe” which is a gorgeous story flow giving the hints of youth culture.

The editorial was shot, appropriately enough, in an East London warehouse, by photographer Bruna Kazinoti and styled by Pandora Lennard. As warriors work behind the scenes – gang members were named after historical people in line with their characters – the casting was very much in tune with the story. There is a strong statement, character and reality among the models rather than just poses – Bruna strong imagery brings it out. The young models, who together look like a band are Eloise who is daughter of Cissy Chong (Creative Director of Cutler & Gross), then there is photographer David Bailey’s son Sascha and The Clash’s Paul Simonon’s son Louis. When the heritage of cult names come together with Bruna’s sense of character and Pandora’s amazing styling, we get a visual narrative flow of subculture and youth.

Isil Gun – Images courtesy Tank & 2DM – Special Thanks to Pandora Lennard 

Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Kenneth Grange / Design Museum London


Kenneth Grange / Design Museum London

Anyone even remotely interested in design knows Jasper Morrison. Tom Dixon. Zaha Hadid. Philippe Starck. But as talented as they all are, they are celebrities before they are designers. Rockstars. That’s why everyone knows them – not because they’ve managed to transform the world. (Check out Design Observer’s fantastic article “The Poverty of Starchitecture” for some interesting perspective.) Kenneth Grange, on the other hand, has worked for decades in relative obscurity yet has probably impacted lives more profoundly than any other designer of his generation (especially if you find yourself in Grange’s home country of the UK).

It’s easy to take for granted that everything in our built environment was designed. Everything from the Jonathan Ives-designed computer you’re probably reading this on down to more institutional things such as the sturdy benches lining your local park. Those things, like the park bench, which hide in plain sight are arguably the most important designed objects that make up our built environment. Endlessly more than the conceptual, witty, exquisite “design” trinkets we all-too-often think of as design, these things actually have shaped our lives.

This month, Design Museum London is at long last opening an exhibition on Grange and his long career’s work. And while he doesn’t necessarily have a signature style, his chunky, function-above-all ethic shines through in all of his enduring work. He was the designer of Kodak’s seminal Instamatic cameras, the iconic London Taxi, the Intercity 125 train, and several household appliances like irons and mixers that every British household once (and sometimes still) uses, as well as postboxes, park benches (!), computer monitors and others. He even designed the UK’s first parking metres (which must be why he never reached star status…). Oh yeah, and he co-founded the Holy Grail of design firms, Pentagram.

Opening July 20th at Design Museum London, and running through October 30th. Not to be missed!

Tag Christof – Images courtesy Sprungseven & Olivier Goupil

Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Kindergarten / Palazzina dei Giardini Modena


Kindergarten / Palazzina dei Giardini Modena

Palazzina dei Giardini in Modena has just opened its new artistic season with a group show entitled Kindergarten, which presents six international artists – Futura, Mode2, Os Gemêos, Tom Sachs, Kostas Seremetis, Boris Tellegen (aka Delta) – connected with street art and popular culture.

As suggested by the title, the exhibition aims at presenting art as a sort of game, something that recalls the freedom and innocence of childhood.

Kindergarten looks like a playground where toys are replaced by artworks thought to interact with people of all ages, entertaining and provoking at the same time. At the entrance, under the cupola of the seventeenth-century building, the show displays Toyan’s, a sound sculpture by Tom Sachs, the American artist famous for the Chanel Guillotine and for his interpretation of commercial brands, like Hello Kitty, represented as contemporary icons. Close to the weird sort of jukebox by Sachs, the first room hosts the sculptures by Kostas Seremetis depicting two unusual and irreverent versions of Mickey Mouse – one black and one white – holding a revolver and making a provocative gesture (the finger!).

The other rooms of the Palazzina are more related to street art. Futura 2000, one of the first graffiti artists, contemporaneous of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, presents a bronze creature that looks like an alien, surrounded by mirrors and painted with numerous circles, which remind viewers of galaxies. Mode2, a painter and illustrator coming from Mauritius, uses sculpture to challenge new materials, while Boris Tellegen, a Dutch artist, who combines graffiti writing, industrial engineering and design, creates a large minimalist construction made of parallelepipeds, which emphasize the weight and nature of the material.

But what really stands out is the installation made by the twin brothers Otàvio and Gustavo Pandolfo, better known as Os Gêmeos. The Brazilian artists – famous for their style inspired by fabulous worlds populated by characters stolen from children’s fairy tales – show a site specific intervention created during their residence in Modena from the beginning of summer: a room full of spray painted bottle of wine and coloured loudspeakers hung on the wall and connected with a computer, which reproduces random music. Two drums – one for adults and the other one, smaller, for children – are placed in the middle of the space and visitors can play and create their own music.

All the works displayed in Kindergarten are based on the important issues of playing and enjoyment, sometimes lean towards irony, sarcasm and impertinence, and other times more related to pure happiness, which brings the artists closer to children’s feelings.

The exhibition, opened on June 30 with a DJ set by Howie B, will run until September 15. Admission is always free.

Monica Lombardi

Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Hello, Carolina Melis!

Hello, Carolina Melis!

Dancer, illustrator, animator and most recently film maker, the latest talent to join the 2DM family sure has her fingers in many pies. Having worked for labels such as Hermes and Prada Carolina Melis is ridding one high wave. A wave she dose´nt seem to be getting off any time soon. With a recently released film “Le fiamme di Nule” and a wide array of animated works for the BBC this multitalented Sardinian native leaves us gasping for more.

Hands | NSPCC | Saatchi&Saatchi | Nexus Productions from Carolina Melis on Vimeo.

Based out of London, Carolina´s art has a distinct warm style that makes one go all warm and gooey on the inside. Featuring elements of and nature and dance like repetition her art has a mesmerizing, melodic almost poetic drama to it. Her warmth and cheers scorches through her work and we gladly share her cheers welcoming her to the fold.

You come from a dance background, how did you make the transition into art direction illustration and animator. Tell us about your beginnings in the field? 
I moved to the UK to study choreography, but I never wanted to become a dancer, I was mainly interested in composition and directing rather than the technique. I studied at the Dartington College of Arts – a place that in the past had hosted some great artists such as composer Stravinsky, dance-theatre funder Kurt Jooss and sculptor Henry Moore to mention a few. There I started to think about choreography beyond the physical dance performance, creating animations and illustrations which I saw almost as dances on screen and paper.

Later this became my main field. I moved to London and graduated at Central Saint Martins where I specialised in illustration, art direction and animation. At the moment my work is much more commercial and mainstream than my early stuff, yet weather on paper, on stage or on screen I still think about my compositions as potential dance scores.

Your art has an almost poetic, melodic feel. How much does dance influence your art?
I’m a dance fanatic. Living in London I have the privilege to see great shows all the time and attend classes with the best professionals. I get hugely inspired by this. In my work I use lots of repetitions and variations and in my animations I rarely use cuts. I think that comes from dance, I see movements and images evolving and transforming all the time, a constant flow. I also have a great passion for nature and I exploit motives such as flowers, insects, animals, yet I consider my work to be more dramatic than romantic. 

What is your creative process like? How does a beautiful Carolina Melis piece go from concept to reality?
YI often start from a simple motif: a combination of colours, a shape, a song, a story. I am a firm believer in the creative process, meaning that ideas generate ideas. It is very difficult to plan a final piece before even starting on it. My best work is often unplanned, I start with a simple element and then develop it until it becomes a piece of work – an animation an illustration or whatever fits right. Commercially it’s a different process..

What is the most personal project you’ve done so far?
It would probably be the video I did ¨Coleen on Leaf¨. It was my first video and I was questioning my taste and approach to art a lot at that point. I was listening to a lot of electronic music at that time, and for the first time I had to give that kind of music a visual. I spent ages on it, a very ambitious project as it’s full of tiny dots that move individually.  It’s had been a while since I did it but it´s still is one of my favourite pieces.

What is your relationship with fashion? How would you describe your style and how much does your art influence it?
My style is quite simple and feminine. I wear mainly black and pastel colours, which are also my favorite combinations in work.
I often collaborate with fashion labels. At the moment I’m directing an animated piece for Prada in collaboration with AnOther Magazine. It’s for a new fragrance they are about to launch…it´s a fantastic project as it’s about dance, unfortunately I can’t say any more as it’s not out yet. 
I also have an ongoing collaboration with french fashion label Sessun. For them I create original window art pieces for their 5 stores in France. Every piece is inspired by the collection of the moment and it’s entirely crafted. The first one I did was an installation of hundreds of butterflies all made of found little elements, such as beds, feathers, small pieces of wood. Beside these jobs I’ve also done quite a few editorials for fashion magazines, designed textiles etc.

You’ve worked with some big labels in the past. What do you think is the label that most shares your aesthetic? 
I am in love Balenciaga, it’s quirky, feminine yet super modern. Prada is always great, I always like their concepts and moods. I also really like the colours and textiles in Kenzo, I like what Antonio Marras is doing for the label and I feel very close to it it terms of style. 

You have your roots in Sardinia, and and now live in the UK. Do you think the Mediterranean flavor is imbedded in your art? How much is British and how much is simply Carolina coming through? 
The British have the great ability in mixing styles, combining vintage with the new, borrowing traditions from other cultures etc.. I love being in the UK as it is creatively a very daring country yet at times I get frustrated that everything is so ephemeral, fashion and trends here appear and disappear very quickly. For this reasons I often like to refer to my stronger italian roots, the traditional motives and and the more classic devices.

 You have a strong footing in many spheres: illustration, art direction, animation and dance. I get the feeling that you are always working on a ton of projects at once. How do you manage your time and which one is your first love?
Unfortunately that’s really true, I always work on far too many projects and at a time and it can become very complicated, but I have a number of very precious helpers that support me in most things I do. I love the balance of the the different projects and I think that’s what keeps me alive.
I see myself as a bit like a ‘concept store’, I use very different mediums but the philosophy behind it all is always coherent. Also I see many artist that concentrate on a very niche genre and after a while they struggle to stay relevant.  

9. Are there any illustrators/animators, past or present, whose work you really admire? 
I really like the art of Paolo Ventura, particularly the series ‘Winter Sories’ and the illustrations of Olaf Hajek.
In terms of animation, Fantasia has been the most influential piece for me. I still believe that Deems Taylor’s introduction in Fantasia is the best way to explain the relationship between music and image. Further to this I think that Oskar Fischinger animation in the film’s first segment, the Toccata and Fugue, is still so incredibly contemporary, something I wouldn’t be surprised to see as a back projection in a trendy summer festival like Sonar.

Tell us about your work for “Le fiamme di Nule.” Is there a bigger film making role in your future?   
‘Le fiamme di Nule’ is a short film combining live action and animation. After a visit to the village Nule in Sardinia I got very fascinated by their traditional ways of making textiles and I decided to write a story inspired by that place and their designs. There was something quite cinematographic in that scenario, an atmosphere that you rarely find in London. It’s a story of three weavers from taking part in a tapestry competition, the competition really happen but I told it with a very personal way. I wanted to portrait the context of a rural village with a stylish and nostalgic approach, so there is a strong sense of art direction and design in the film. 

Since the film I got commissioned to design some tapestries myself by the, the rugs where made but the artisans from Nule, it feel amazing.. I almost feel like I’m becoming part of my own film!

I would love to make a feature or a series, it has been in my mind for years. Last year I started working on some long formats with Warp X, everything is still in progress and to be honest I’m not rushing it.

Internet Warrior | Oh No Ono | Leaf from Carolina Melis on Vimeo.

Interview and Introduction – Daniel Franklin /  


Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

The Editorial: Identità Virtuali

The Editorial: Identità Virtuali

We’ve talked here before about the changing typologies of objects thanks to revolutionary technologies that have made many separate objects obsolete (iFuture, iFatigue). We’ve talked about fine art and artisanal craft in the face of digital art’s low barriers to entry (Election Day / Every Day). We’ve even talked about quickening trend cycles and the impossible superficiality of pop culture in the internet age (Hugh Holland and the Lost Art of Living). But more importantly than any of these things, most of us haven’t truly stopped to consider that our very identities have been dramatically, irrevocably changed in the past few years. We are no longer singular “I,” but instead are plural “I.” We must exist temporally, and then we must also exist in the digital world to really exist.

In a fantastic exhibition which opened last month, Florence’s CCC Strozzina (part of the Palazzo Strozzi museum) explores this phenomenon in depth. Without coming across as anti-utopian, the exhibition attacks questions of identity and self in the age of perpetual connectedness.

The exhibition begins with the striking works of Robbie Cooper and Evan Baden, who both explore users’ physical and mental connection to their virtual selves. Cooper’s video works record children playing video games from inside their television screens to brilliant effect: they are their virtual avatar, jumping and flinching and concentrating intensely on the task at hand. Baden’s photographs show users seemingly hypnotised by their His subjects’ fixed gazes seem to indicate an abandonment of their physical space for a complete mental transfer into their devices.

Michael Wolf’s work, which is a tongue-in-cheek mining of Google Maps Street View images around Paris asks this question brilliantly. When our spaces are completely inhabited by surveillance and recording, just what part does the individual have in it? His subjects are passers by who were (usually) unsuspecting subjects of Google’s surveying, thus creating an interesting look at the relationship between spaces, people and the digital world. Chris Oakley’s work takes this one step further, by showing a department store surveillance system which uses data from social networks to classify shoppers. And Christopher Baker’s cacophony of Skype video chats bewilderingly puts into perspective the enormity of the digital world.

But beyond the awkward disconnect between the digital and real, we also see the positive power of social networks for activism. Diana Djeddi‘s work on the infamous viral video of a woman murdered on the streets of Iran breaks down the phenomenon and reveals the power of strong symbols used over a network (even if in error). Nicholas Felton’s obsessive self-recording work, demonstrates the power of real insight onto your own life and habits and provides a glimpse into the growing desire for self-monitoring.

In any case, it seems clear: there is no escaping your virtual self. Even those staunch holdouts who refuse to join Facebook are being catalogued, analysed and measured up. There’s just no hiding. But instead of our digital and non-digital selves being diametrical opposites, they have instead become compliments. Chances are, in fact, that in time the two will only merge more completely.

The profound questions raised by this excellent exhibition are sweeping and will be debated by sociologists and anthropologists and economists (and everyone else) for the foreseeable future. But move wisely. As your two selves merge to become one “real” whole, remember that it’s already impossible to separate the two. Dress well, speak well. Share well, type well!

Tag Christof – Images CCC Strozzina 

Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Direktorenhaus / New Textile Craft

Direktorenhaus / New Textile Craft

Next Tuesday Direktorenhaus will present a fresh exhibition of textile works. We last visited Direktorenhaus in November during Illustrative, and in the spirit of that event “New Textile Craft” is to be a celebration and exploration of a particular craft. New technologies and the the revival of old techniques has breathed new life into the medium, and it is showing enormous potential as a creative canvas.

It will be the first time Berlin outing for designers Signe Emdal from Copenhagen, Hao-Ni Tsai of London, Ruth Duff of Glasgow and Izumi Sato of Stockholm. It’s being called a labyrinthine “wintergarten of knitted materials, woven textiles, organic objects and hand-stitched fabrics – sounds lovely!

Opening party on Tuesday, July 5th starting at 8:30pm with DJ Siopis and Kyros, with the exhibition running through the 30th. (And since it’s during fashion week, it’s running alongside the Fashion Week Opening Party at Münze Berlin next door!) If you’re in Berlin, the event is not to be missed!

From the Bureau 

Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Guest Interview n°30: Beatrice Fontana


Guest Interview n°30: Beatrice Fontana

Beatrice Fontana is a créatrice, in the strictest sense. She is considered a maven of taste and is a privileged consultant to the world’s premier luxury brands. In addition, she’s had a role in bringing high-luxury sensibility to very functional objects, and not long ago collaborated on a major project with Parker Pens. Hers is a life of invention and a constant search for inspiration.

We visited her home earlier this year with 2DM photographer Lorenzo Nencioni, where she and her husband showed us their fantastically varied collections of objects, impeccable furniture, enormous music collection and the extraordinarily well-curated home in which it is all contained.

And what exactly does Beatrice Fontana studio do?
We are a consulting practice that studies trends in fashion and design, creating projects and products specially made for brands, our clients.

Your work for Parker pens is quite a departure from you work designing fashion accessories. Did you enjoy such a radical change?
When they called me I was seriously bowled over. But they told me they needed “style.” I accepted, driven by the fact that being charged as Artistic Director would mean that I would be given a new fountains of inspiration and ideas for any type of product.

You collect beautiful things. Tell us about that.
Yes. Mine is a search for style. To collect objects is both a fountain of inspiration and an indefatigable urge just to have them. And also, I like to live among things I love: some represent undying loves, some are a “flash in the pan,” and then, I give them away as gifts.

Your husband Corrado is also quite a collector. Has his love of hard rock influenced your creativity?
Certainly! That means that when we visit markets, we choose also the objects that are a little bit more “rock”… But in any case, in our living room we have racks of horns hanging over the room and the skull of a horned buffalo!

And together you and he have carefully curated your home here in Milan that Lorenzo Nencioni photographed recently. How has your personal space important for your creativity?
It’s fundamental! Some days when ideas don’t come to me, I work at home, and I lay out all my work material on our magnificent table by Piet Ein Heik. I pace back and forth on the creaky old parquet and I feel as if I’m in harmony…. It’s there that I find insiration.

Any particular pieces of furniture/decor that you treasure above others?
Memories from my childhood, like two armchairs from the 1970s that are in my living room which I had reupholstered in black calfskin. And a large crystal lamp that hangs over our bed that came from my parents’ room.

You studied at Istituto Marangoni in the 1980s when fashion was drastically different, and Milan was a radically different city. How have you seen fashion and luxury change over the years?
Milan has changed so much. Back then, everything was more simple… you proposed an idea, and it was considered solely based on its creative merit. I remember that I designed in complete liberty, following the inspiration of the moment. Then, the crises hit, minimalism became popular, people became much more cautious about their purchases, and every design is analysed from a marketing perspective. I think, though, that we “grew up” somehow, and that the distance from the frenetic 1980s have done us some good. Today, work is done in a more attentive and balanced manner, but there’s also a large-scale return to creativity as a catalyst for everything.

What was Milan like back then?
I remember it being more provincial and perhaps a bit more sorridente (smiley). In Milan we breathed an air of “anything is possible.”

How do you imagine Milan in 25 years?
A bit less liveable and more overcrowded. Unfortunately we are losing our soul bit by bit, even if it’s true that there is no city in Italy like Milan, in Italy we aren’t able to compete with other European metropolises in terms of stimuli, culture, minds…
I have architect and designer friends who come for Salone del Mobile every year and they go crazy for Milan. But sadly, Milan is only marvellous to live in during that one week in April.

What is true luxury, in your opinion?
Finding the answers to your own desires.

Interview and introduction Tag Christof – Italian translation Helga Tripi – Photos Lorenzo Nencioni / 2DM

Share: Facebook,  Twitter