Upcoming Artists | Green Like July

Hello guys, how are you?
Fine, thank you.

Who do I have the pleasure of speaking with today?
You are speaking with Andrea. I play the guitar, sing and dance in the band Green Like July.

Where are you from?
We come from different parts of Italy, but we all are curretnly living in Milan. I was born and grew up in Alessandria, Paolo is from Voghera, while Marco and Roberto are from Lama dei Peligni, in Abruzzo.

You were born as a band in November 2003, but your name is Green Like July, why?
The reason is purely phonetic. It could have been the E Street Band, Hawkwind or Judas Priest, but those names had already been taken.

Three hashtags to describe Green Like July.
# Rock #and #roll

On September 17th, your latest album, Build a Fire, has been released. Do you like it? I mean, was your goal creating an album like this or you imagined it in a different way?
We are very happy with the way that it sounds and we are proud of the work that we have done. We were certainly conscious of the potential of our songs. Build a Fire was conceived after three long years, in which we managed to define the structure of each song and we worked very hard to give the right sound to the album. Then, the contribution of A.J. Mogis and Enrico Gabrielli has been essential. We imagined an album like this, but then things went better than what we expected.

Build a Fire arrives two years after Four – Legged Fortune. Why so long? What did it happen in the meanwhile?
I am a very picky musician and I need the time to write. Sometimes the creative process evolves immediately and in an spontaneous way, but other times it means days of effort and hard work.

The album has been recorded at the Arc Studios in Omaha, Nebraska. Something unusual for an Italian band. Why did you decide to do it there?
At that time, we were working with A.J. Mogis in the recording of Four – Legged Fortune. In that moment we realized the potential of ARC Studios. The choice to return in Omaha has been essentially driven by the fact of working again with AJ. He is a person with a great sensitivity, wisdom and patience. He is not only a musician with a boundless talent, but a great sound engineer.

Do you think you have been influenced by Omaha in the recording of this album?
The place where you record an album, influences significantly the creative process. Now, I can not tell you exactly how much of Omaha and Nebraska is in Build a Fire. Writing an album takes months or even years, but the recording process usually takes a shorter period of time. If i think about the places linked to Build a Fire, Park Slope, Viale Argonne surrounded by the fog or Torino-Piacenza highway come straight through my mind.

Did you read a lot during that period?
When we were recording Build a Fire, the books that were on my bedside table were The conspiracy of doves, by Vincenzo Latronico and The New York Trilogy, by Paul Auster.

How did you meet Mike Mogis, from Bright Eyes?
We have been living together in his house!

Olimpia Zagnoli is the responsible of translating the Green Like July into images. How did you have the idea for the video and the artworks?
I tried to transmit Olimpia the ideas, images and colours of Build a Fire. Olimpia has patiently developed and tidied them all, giving it a shape to my somehow confusing suggestions.

One last question. Why are you always so serious in the pictures?
As Tom Waits said, “sane, sane, they’re all insane, the fireman’s blind, the conductor’s lame, in Cincinatti jacket and a sack luck dame, hanging out the window with a bottle full of rain”.

Enrico Chinellato. Image courtesy of Claudia Zalla 
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Through the Lens of Alice Moitié

Alice Moitié 
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Empiricism vs Rationalism | Masters and Disciples

Let’s play a game. Its aim is to look for affinities and variations between designers and their disciples, and to establish a common thread that may highlight cultural roots, common backgrounds and shades of the identities. How do we start? For example, we could try to write down an equation like the following one:

Tom Dixon : Faye Toogood = Konstantin Grcic : Pauline Deltour

Who are the protagonists? Dixon and Grcic are perhaps among the most famous designers of the early fifty-year-old generation. The first is English, the second is German. In more detail, they both stand out for the consistent development of their projects, always capable to fulfill the needs of the end users without renouncing to innovate with originality and wit the interiors they contribute to furnish.

Nevertheless, it’s not only their personality to divide them – anarchic for Dixon, functionalist for Grcic -, but a cultural background which reminds us of a crucial chapter in European history of ideas: the dialectics between English and German philosophical traditions, empiricism and rationalism. Dixon, ethereally self-taught by his own intuitions, keeps on reinventing himself when he designs his beloved, iconic lamps, as well as when he founds a new design showcase (as it’s the case with Most). Grcic, instead, has an undisputed talent to synthesize a problem solving attitude with a rigorous aesthetics, as for Achille Castiglioni’s Parentesi restyling in 2013, or for his most venerated product, iconic MagisChair One.

And what about Toogood and Deltour? They both worked side by side with the other two designers in their own studios, getting acquainted with their masters’ methodologies and approaches. Then, they both chose to work as freelancers, emerging on the European scene as two of the most innovative young voices in the design field.

In her installations (La Cura, The Batch Room, Natura Morta), Faye Toogood privileges the spontaneity of a rough, impulsive taste: the experiences she’s used to offer to her customers, or to her public, are developed every time according to the specific context she’s involved in, always in the quest to reshape her objects through an immanent approach. The process is always refocused, and self-expression can’t be but an inescapable requirement. Pauline Deltour, on the contrary, doesn’t overstep the physical boundaries of her products, neither she reconsiders their terms of usage. Instead, she prefers to provide cost-effective yet fit-for-purpose solutions for everyday living needs (Alessi’s “A Tempo” collection, Discipline’s “Roulé” collection), designing affordances with an emphatic, familiar touch and working with materials through a clear-cut resolution.

Giulia Zappa 
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The cabinet of curiosities of Franco Clivio

Have you ever wondered how many examples of exceptional design pass unnoticed? When we think about design, we usually search for the unusual, the extravagant, the shocking, the decorative or stylish. We almost never look for the ordinary, the simple, the practical or the useful. We expect from design to amaze us, to leave us wide-eyed and with our mouth open, and, thus, we miss all those silent, everyday objects of extraordinary poetics. Designed through years of extensive use, or through hours of intense engineering work and laboratory tests, those everyday objects have become so ubiquitous and so essential that we don’t even consider them as objects of design.

Nevertheless, history has taught us that some of the greatest design masters have turned to those simple, plain objects and transformed them into some of the greatest masterpieces of contemporary design. In fact, Achille Castiglioni’s studio bares witness to this kind of practice, as does Jasper Morrison‘s research about wooden spoons, or Franco Clivio‘s incredible cabinet of curiosities. Made up of everyday objects, usually considered commonplace and hardly spectacular, Clivio’s extensive collection is currently the subject of an exhibition at Mudac – 
Musée de Design et d’Arts Appliqués Contemporains, in Lausanne.

Titled “No Name Design”, the exhibition is entirely drawn from Clivio’s collection and was devised by functions, or into system typologies, materials or formal families, each of which tells a particular story about the ingenuity of craftsmen and engineers who provided solutions to a variety of problems. From hammers to spoons, from nails to scissors, each of these objects builds a particular narrative about our relationship with these objects, how they were made, produced and even copied, about how lost we would feel if we were to live without any of them, even though we usually don’t consider them meaningful enough to be ‘designed’.

No Name Design, The cabinet of curiosities of Franco Clivio” runs until February 9, 2014 at Mudac – 
Musée de Design et d’Arts Appliqués Contemporains, Lausanne.

Rujana Rebernjak 
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The Great Male Renunciation

A man wearing heels and a colorful “skort” was, during the 1700s, the norm in fashionable countries. How come today’s male fashion icons are wearing more somber colors and not even Jean Paul Gaultier has been able to put “the skort” back on the map?

The answer can be found in what fashion theorist J.C Flügel has named The Great Male Renunciation, a historical event that took place around 1800. This event meant men renouncing their interest in fashion and consumption claiming this to be “a woman thing”, a thought that until recent generations seemed to have been a heritage.

The departing of fashion within the gentleman’s wardrobe still found a way during the 1800s, but instead, this was made in a more stylish way through somber colours and simple silhouettes such as the one of the suit. Some argue that these changes occurred due to men stepping out into everyday work-life and the practicality of high heels and expensive light fabrics were minimal, so instead a dimmed style was invented. Adornment was however still connected with status. And therefore, quality and purchasing things from the finest tailor were essential for a gentleman.

Even though subcultures such as dandies and other extravagant dressers made stylistic changes to the male apparel, the streets of Savile Row and the influence of clean and simplistic lines and colors were/are still dominating men’s wardrobe. But has, in doing so, created a gateway between style and fashion, so that the tolerance for men having an interest in fashion have grown during the past decades and are today a normal assumption, at least for younger generations.

Today society has evolved. We are no longer a one celled organism at dawn of time, but we have evolved into a multi-organism where individualistic style can be found for both women and men and is more and more incorporated into the changing ways of fashion.

Victoria Edman 
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Dieter & Björn Roth | Islands

Hangar Bicocca in Milan is opening tomorrow a huge exhibition dedicated to the career of Dieter Roth (Hannover, 1930 – Basel, 1998), one of the most versatile artists of the 20th century, entitled Islands and realized thanks to the collaboration of his son and close collaborator Björn and with the curatorship of Vicente Todolì. The retrospective, conceived with the support of a group of Icelandic friends and artists – he got married with an Icelandic student and his two primary bases of activity were Iceland and Basel –, will present more than 100 works of the Swiss-German emblematic figure, retracing his main paths of research.

The multidisciplinary creative practice of Dieter Roth consists of poetry, design, painting, drawings, sculpture, assemblages, film and video, the most famous prints, books and multiples. His experiments include the use of different tools, furniture elements, monitors, and above all organic materials, which contributed to creating unusual works such as the multiples of plastic toys covered with chocolate or sugar, the variations on printed postcards, as well as the series of artists’ books culminated in Literaturwurst (Literature Sausage), a book filled with paper in place of meat.

This show will present Roth’s original studio, The Studio of Dieter and Björn Roth, rebuilt exactly as it was with all the objects that made it: lights, ashtrays, paint cans, brushes…; the Economy bar, a real café that will be open to all visitors, changing according to its exploitation during the show; the well-known Selbstturm (Self tower), 5-meter towers with shelves full of myriads of self portrait sculptures made of chocolate (4.000 kg of dark chocolate); and the memorable Solo Scenes, a film created in the final years of the artist’s life, of himself going about his daily activities, more than 100 monitors recording every single moment of his dailiness.

After representing Switzerland at the Venice Biennale in 1982, and reaching numerous international contemporary art temples worldwide – his works were displayed at some editions of Documenta Kassel, at the MACBA Barcelona, the Ludwig Museum, the Schaulager in Basel and MoMA in New York –, at last Dieter Roth’s art gets to Milan and, no matter what, Islands is worth a visit!

Monica Lombardi 

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Upcoming Artists | M + A

Hi guys, how is it going?
Hi. Everything’s fine, thank you.

Who are you, and where are you at the moment?
We’re Michele Ducci and Alessandro Degli Angioli, and at the moment we are in London, we are on a small tour to present the new album here in UK.

When was the project born?
Mmh, almost five years ago now.

How are your songs born usually?
I don’t know, we don’t have a precise algorithm. We send each other a lot of emails with drafts and structures of possible songs, the rest is almost a game. Usually one sketches an idea and sends it to the other who, in turn, adds other stuff and resends it back and so on.. This sort of loop, done at a distance, colors the song with all the different shades that both of us breathe in his own life.

How did the meeting with the Monotreme Records happen?
Via email. It was very fast: we sent them some of our songs and after a while we were already signing the contract.

How is your UK tour going?
It’s going very well. We did not expect such an enthusiastic audience, that already knew the songs by heart. We enjoyed it a lot. In UK people dance at concerts so much more. For the type of music we play, seeing hopping people during our live gigs is quite helpful.

You have a very recognizable and well-studied image for your album cover, merchandize and videos. Who is behind it?
Still M+A. Alessandro takes care of the visual side. Let’s say that all these things are kind of a prosthesis to what we do with the music. The realm of imagination we succeeded to create around us made us more easily recognizable and, considering how many people approach to our merch stand after our concerts, we think we’ve made it. At the same time we’ve chosen not to show our name M+A on the t-shirts, just because we don’t see them as a mere marketing item by which we make money, but rather as a second-side of M+A, almost as if it was a fashion brand totally independent form the rest. We sell loads of t-shirts even to people who don’t really listen to our music or that never got to listen to it, and this shows our purpose.

Did you expect this interest by the Japanese market?
Yes, in the sense that we worked hard to be able to release the album there as well, but at the same time we did not expect such a positive response. It is a new market for us and certain dynamics are totally different, but it seems that people really like our music there. Now we are working to set up a Japanese tour for next summer.

What’s in the future of M + A?
Other frames, other countries, other albums.

Enrico Chinellato 
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Shoreditch: Design Studios = Shopping Destinations

Multitasking is not just about mental organization. Our most widespread attempt for simultaneous multiplicity, a true synonym of contemporary weltanshauung, is also investing in the space we live in, transforming our environment into an hybrid place open to different targets and expectations. A visit to Shoreditch, London’s East-End epicentre of creativity, is a chance to observe how this phenomenon has been affecting design studios’ identity.

The most acclaimed British interpreter of minimalism, Jasper Morrison was among the first to move his office to this neighborhood. His headquarters, hidden behind an anonymous street door, rubs shoulders with a shop devoted to his “Supernormal” collection of ordinary but essential objects, and a design studio, inaccessible for clients. When you ring the doorbell and enter the white, tiny court, it feels like accessing a secret, suspended world: the discovery of the place or its offers isn’t due to serendipity. On the contrary, both the interior design and the products selection are no-frills but accurately conscious, and every object has more of a fetish than its plain look would suggest at first.

Few blocks away, Tord Boontje welcomes the followers of his laser-cut floral world into a wide open space. Its layout is similar to traditional shops: all its multi-branded creations are on sale, and their display is as accurate as if we were in a luxury department store. Yet, on a closer inspection, the presence of computers on the back suggests us that a few designers are working side by side to customers. Their presence is discreet and their glances silently observe our preferences: are they there to gather our wishes and interpret our unknown desires?

Lee Broom, enfant prodige of interior design and interpreter of the XXI century posh punk, is the latest to choose Shoreditch as a base. His brand new “Electra House” hub is both a showroom and a design studio: two contiguous rooms, each with a specific function, interact through an open door which leads to communication and exchange. Customers have their own dedicated perspective, like the audience of a play, and are free to observe how ideas and sketches take shape around the conference table and the moodboards on the walls. Thus, design is no more a segregated working attitude, as commerce is no more about buying: melted together, they are turned into a sophisticated and often intangible form of entertainment.

Giulia Zappa 
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