Ettore Spalletti Multiplied By Three

In the next few months, the work of the contemporary art master Ettore Spalletti (b. 1940, Cappelle sul Tavo, Italy) will be celebrated through a series of three exhibitions, all entitled Un giorno così bianco, così bianco (A day so white, so white), hosted by some of the main Italian art institutions.

The first scheduled show, curated by Anna Mattirolo, just opened at MAXXI museum in Rome with a huge environmental installation, while the following steps will be the exhibitions at GAM in Turin, curated by Danilo Eccher, which will feature a broad selection of works coming from the artist’ studio and private collections, and the one at MADRE museum in Naples, curated by the young and talented Andrea Villiani and Alessandro Rabottini, that will present a comprehensive retrospective starting at the beginning of the artist’s career.

Without overstating, Ettore Spalletti is one of the most influential art figures of his generation. Over the last forty years, Spalletti has created a personal approach that goes beyond the traditional boundaries of painting and sculpture. Using straight and undulating lines, minimal structures and colours, playing with lights, and materials, the artist has always been able to establish a unique relationship with the spaces, giving them a strong emotional impact, despite the apparent lightness of his pieces.

Each event will contribute in retracing Spalletti’s career through specific paths conceived to dialogue with different architectures, without a chronological order: from the recent works displayed in Rome to the earlier ones showed in Naples – some of them never seen before –, exploring the dialectic between abstraction and figurative art, passing through the selection made in Turin to recreate the atmosphere and energy of the artist’s studio.

The exhibition at MAXXI will run through September 2014. GAM will open on March 27th and close on June 14th, while the show at Madre will inaugurate on April 13th and run through 18th August.

Monica Lombardi – Images courtesy of Cecilia Fiorenza and Matteo Ciavattella 
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Carlo Mollino: Boundless Work of an Eclectic Genius

In looking at the richness of Carlo Mollino’s work, one cannot but wonder how should this eclectic figure be framed – architect, design, photographer, but also aviator, a passionate skier and a racing car driver – any label appears too restrictive to frame his body of work, his character and his wit. Stereotype of a wild genius, Mollino was influenced by Turin’s lively cultural scene between the two wars, soon establishing himself as a versatile artists combining rigorous technological research and formal experimentation with sophisticated historical references. Despite his wide range of work, all of his projects remain coherent and a precise line of thought can be found both in his interior design projects (such as the surrealist Casa Miller, Casa Devalle or Casa Mollino), in the architectures of the mountain and the city (Teatro Regio in Turin, Turin Horse Society), as well as in his one-off products and photography.

A dandy, shy, lonely and elusive, Mollino conveyed his subtle messages by elaborating forms of the past using contemporary technologies, such as the reinforced concrete and bold structures applied to the sledge lift station of Lago Negro, a project where one would expect the more traditional use of wood. In fact, such juxtapositions of opposite materials, forms and textures, the dialogue between tradition and innovation, appears fundamental for his design process. Even though initially driven by the building fervor of the fascist period and the hiatus of the war, he has notably rejected the Modernist lessons of Gropius and Le Corbusier accusing them of cold functionalism and advocating for a more emotional, personal approach to architecture.

Even in his furniture designs, Mollino prefers handmade production of limited edition pieces, rather than any large-scale industrial production processes, giving his projects a unique aura. Throughout his life, he will never design anything for the big industry and the majority of his furniture will be one-off projects, ranging from wonderful tables, chairs and household objects inspired by nature, to the racing car designed with Bisiluro. The forms developed in architecture and design are highly evocative of his photographic work, notably the erotic series produced with a Polaroid, which explore the sinuous forms of a female body. The use of photography is in itself symbolic of his creative process: it’s not the image itself that is important, but how it is processed and produced.

Even though Carlo Mollino’s work is currently celebrated in major exhibitions, he still hasn’t been fully recognized as an architect, but rather appreciated as a charming, eclectic figure. While his objects are on high demand among collectors and the most fashionable of photographers, like Juergen Teller, have often chosen Casa Mollino for their photo-shoots, the figure of Carlo Mollino still waits to be fully understood.

Giulio Ghirardi 
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The Adventures of a Plastic Bag

Luca Campri is an Italian photographer based in London.

Luca Campri 
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Henrik Vibskov at Design Museum in Helsinki

Northern European fashion designers have long honed a reputation for clean lines, hardy craftsmanship and meticulous attention to fabrics. But perhaps nowhere today is this Nordic ethos more creatively applied than in the work of Henrik Vibskov, a Denmark native and Central Saint Martins alumnus, whose work is currently being celebrated in an exhibition at the Design Museum in Helsinki.

Vibskov’s contrarian nature and singular approach to design have helped him establish a creative practice that goes well beyond fashion. Beyond successful women’s and men’s collections, he also dabbles in visual arts – his pieces have graced the walls of his own runway shows – and was the one-time drummer of the band Trentemøller.

The exhibition, curated by Suvi Saloniemi, aims to offer the public a window onto his creative process – a process that can certainly seem opaque considering its often breathtaking final results. According to Saloniemi, the show’s goal was “to delve inside the head of this designer. Sometimes we display only the results of a designer’s work, but with Vibskov we will show the endless abundance of his ideas and the machinery of his creativity. The exhibition is above all a celebration of creativity and creative thinking.”

Vibskov himself once said, “creativity can not be forced or given boundaries.” And the show is, in a way, a tribute to this sort of openness of creative expression and covers the gamut of his current work: his latest collection will be on display (fresh off the Paris catwalk) alongside the more conceptual “Neck Plus Ultra,” which toured Europe earlier this year.

The show runs through 11 May 2014 at the Design Museum in Helsinki.

Francesca Crippa – Images courtesy of Design Museum 
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Alice Ronchi | Colazione Sull’Erba Finissage

Colazione sull’erba (breakfast on the grass), the first solo show by Alice Ronchi (b. 1989, Ponte dell’Olio, Piacenza, Italy, living and working in Amsterdam) at Francesca Minini gallery in Milan is about to close, so this is the last occasion, for all those around who haven’t seen it yet, to enter the fabulous world of the young and talented Italian artist.

The exhibition, which borrows the title – and perhaps the pleasant atmosphere – from the well-known impressionist canvas, is a personal and unique creation of a dreamlike landscape, where “the stereotypical image of nature is depicted through smiling flowers, singing birds and a sun that never sets”.

Granddaughter of farmers, Alice grew up immersed in the nature, living it as a huge playground, which seems to have had a significant influence on her vision of nature, but also of urban fabric and artificial things that become original elements of her harmonious systems. Playing with titles, shapes and materials, the artist coins playful and curious suggestions: from the ambition of the small stones of Kilimanjaro, endowed with proper names, to larger configurations, to the fishes in love kissing each other depicted on grit of Turchino, passing through the “vain urban structures” of Flora, extravagant metropolitan constructions that recall the silhouettes of flowers and stems.

The light, abstract devices of Colazione sull’Erba, made of stainless steel, brass rod, bamboo and cardboards, apparently arranged in a random way, interact with the space of the Milanese gallery developing a non-linear exhibition path that looks like a narrative novel, midway between rationality and imagination, without a beginning or an end.

The show runs through 15th of March 2014.

Monica Lombardi – Images courtesy of Francesca Minini 
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Man Machine by Konstantin Grcic at Galerie Kreo

There are few contemporary designers that can take on such complex, diverse and challenging tasks as Konstantin Grcic. From über-technological furniture, to small everyday objects, from warm apartment interiors to experiments with unsual materials and production techniques, Grcic constantly re-affirms himself as one of the boldest and bravest contemporary designers. And, in fact, a new exhibition at Galerie Kreo, the hub of uncompromising contemporary design, demonstrates his ability to tackle and examine production processes, materials, systems and finishings in creating objects that are between functionality and appearance, conceptuality and reality of everyday use.

Borrowing its title from the Kraftwerk album, “Man Machine” is an exhibition that explores the duality between a fragile material and sturdy mechanical components that make it both practical and functional, by showcasing a series of glass objects produced in collaboration with a workshop established in Frankfurt in 1829 from industrial float glass identical to that used in architecture.

Each piece exhibited in the show – a round table, bookshelves, a chair, a side table, a large table, single and double chests, a vertical cabinet – is operated by a simple mechanism that not only meets contemporary design’s demand for scaleability but also truly performs its function. By means of pistons, hinges, cranks and knobs, and through the use of black silicone that allows plates of glass to move whilst highlighting their design, each piece is dynamic and lends itself to human movements.

Cold yet sensual, transparent yet somehow elusive and ethereal, structurally and functionally explicit yet, at the same time, delicate and poetic, “Man Machine” appears to be an exploration into the inconsistencies and discordancies of design production, challenging the way we view our material reality, the way our everyday objects are produced, used and, ultimately, understood.

“Man Machine” runs through May 17th 2014 at Galerie Kreo in Paris.

Rujana Rebernjak – Images courtesy of Galerie Kreo 


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Upcoming Artists | The Garden

Hi guys! How’s it going?
It’s going.

What is the meaning behind your name?
The Garden keeps on growing and we will evolve just as a pokemon would. That’s why we chose it.

For how long have you been playing together?
More than 12 years for now. It’s been so long we don’t quite remember it even.

How did your recent European tour go?
The European tour was a pretty damn good experience. We’ll be looking forward to the next one.

Where does your sound come from? What are the artists that have influenced you more?
We start from our influence and then try evolving this sound and making it our own. Growing up, it was Fatboy Slim and Prodigy. Nowadays it is Del the Funkee Homosapien or even Shattered Faith.

In addition to Punk Rock, you can also note Rap in your work, how come?
We like all kinds of rap/trap/hip hop. The beats and bass make us feel good. So why box ourselves in to a genre? As a band we give ourselves freedom to explore anything we want. We could go straight Beethoven any second.

In the last year, in addition to your musical work, you have also paired with Hedi Slimane in working as models for YSL, how did this come about?
We were spotted by a recruiter while playing a Garden show, got a random email and were then on our way to Paris. Let the good times roll!

Do you pay a lot of attention to your style or is it something you approach casually?
I like to pay attention to my style. I know that Fletcher does as well. It’s fun to build on it and evolve.

I know that you have other parallel projects besides the Garden, could you talk a bit about that?
“Enjoy” is my project, and “Puzzle” is Fletcher’s project. They are good releases for positive and negative energy. I’ll usually do “Enjoy” in my spare time.

Enrico Chinellato 
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Why Green has to be the New Black

In May 2006, the International Herald Tribune published an article by the legendary Suzy Menkes titled “Eco-friendly: Why green is the new black”. Almost 8 years later, the fashion industry has evolved a lot in embracing environmental sustainability. However, despite our better judgment, the so called fast fashion is still being overly consumed, and brands like H&M and Forever 21 produce collections which might be judged both in terms of ethics as well as sustainability.

And yet, the notion of sustainability is nothing new to the fashion world. In fact, ever since Franco Moschino sent his models down the runway with T-shirts saying “Stop Using Our Oceans as a W.C.” back in 1989, there has been an on-going debate about eco-friendly fashion. Since then, many high fashion brands have been presenting different kinds of sustainable choices in their production, such as the grand Giorgio Armani who incorporated hemp in his suits back in 1995. The topic is constantly being discussed (albeit, with limited success) and brands such as Stella McCartney and Edun have taken a major stand in showcasing the ability to combine eco-friendly fabrics with high fashion flair.

Martin Margiela, on the other hand, introduced a leather butcher’s apron repurposed into an evening gown back in 1988, starting the deconstructionist movement aimed at raising environmental awareness in fashion. In fact, his particular choices offer an interesting frame of reference when discussing the concept of McFashion: to re-use can mean staying green as well as chic. Last week, it was Moschino, again, adding fuel to the debate about McFashion industries, with its typically humorous flair. Models dressed in bright red and yellow clothes walked its runway, clearly referencing the fast food chain.

Nevertheless, we are now in March of 2014 and much still has to be done. Thus, it only seems fitting to present a new headline “Eco-friendly: Why green has to be the new black”. If we should rely on the individual consumer’s sensibility and awareness, it might not bring us anywhere. While design industry has done a lot in supporting eco-friendly brands, we still have to become fully aware that buying the often unsustainable fast-fashion might condition what we will face in the future.

Victoria Edman 
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Through the Lens of Trevor Triano

Trevor Triano is a photographer based in Aspen, usually working from New York City, whose delicate eye captures intimate moments of everyday life.

Trevor Triano 
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Design is a State of Mind at Serpentine Sackler Gallery

If you look throughout the history, you will find that not many designers have challenged themselves with designing a bookshelf. Rather, they have taken on simpler tasks, associating their names with chairs or lamps, and it is fairly easy to understand why. Differently form a chair, a sofa or a lamp, a bookshelf is more often custom made then brought home from some branded shop. It needs to fit exact needs in terms of space and form, often growing with our personal collections of books, objects and various knick-knacks. In fact, bookshelves can often be seen almost as a metaphysic piece of furniture more than a merely functional object, containing our personal stories, passions, dreams and inspirations.

This is precisely the narrative about designed objects that a new exhibition opening tomorrow at Serpentine Sackler Gallery tries to pinpoint. Titled “Design is a State of Mind” and curated by Martino Gamper, the irreverent master of design and craft, this exhibition presents a landscape of shelving systems, telling the story of design objects and their impact on our lives. Besides an extensive survey of shelving systems produced from 1930 until today, ranging from pieces designed by Gaetano Pesce, Franco Albini, Ettore Sottsass, Ercol, Gio Ponti and IKEA, the exhibition will also display personal archives and collections of Gamper’s friends and colleagues, among which Enzo Mari, Paul Neale, Max Lamb & Gemma Holt, Jane Dillon, Michael Marriott, Sebastian Bergne, Fabien Cappello, Adam Hills, Michael Anastassiades, Andrew McDonagh & Andreas Schmid, Daniel Eatock and Martino Gamper himself.

Rather than an exhibition about material qualities, form and function of a designed object, “Design is a State of Mind” should be viewed as an exploration of memories, emotions and interests hidden in the form an object. As Martino Gamper states: “There is no perfect design and there is no über-design. Objects talk to us personally. Some might be more functional than others, and the emotional attachment is very individual. This exhibition will showcase a very personal way of collecting and gathering objects – these are pieces that tell a tale.”

“Design is a State of Mind” curated by Martino Gamper will run at Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London from 5th of March until 21st of April 2014.

Rujana Rebernjak – Images Courtesy of Amendolagine e Barracchia, Nilufar, Riboni, Fondazione studio museo Vico Magistretti and Angus Mill 
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