The 55th Venice Biennale | The Pavilions Part. 1

After the bellyful of art offered by The Encyclopedic Palace, the next step is making a plan and selecting a personal path not to get lost – and tired out, especially if you have only few time and you keep dragging a hard parties’ night weight around – in the numerous projects proposed by the international pavilions. At the Arsenale a stop at the Italian pavilion is essential. The first thought goes to the drastic reshape achieved by the curator Bartolomeo Pietromarchi who selected, in clear juxtaposition with the mare magnum of the previous edition guided by Sgarbi, only fourteen artists whose works are set up dividing them according to seven couples: Luigi Ghirri and Luca Vitone, Francesco Arena and Fabio Mauri, Piero Golia and Sislej Xhafa, Flavio Favelli and Marcello Maloberti, Francesca Grilli and Massimo Bartolini, Giulio Paolini and Marco Tirelli, Gianfranco Baruchello and Elisabetta Benassi.

The pictures by the returned-to-life Luigi Ghirri opens the “Journey through Italy” and are exhibited along with the rhubarb notes of the olfactory (sometimes sickly) installation by Luca Vitone that spreads around the rooms. The following conceptual combinations see Arena and Mauri “deal with unresolved gaps in history through the filter of the body and performance”, while referring to culture and pop-folk traditions, Favelli displays a huge cupola made of sheet metal, wood glass, neon and a series of decalcomanias on vintage plates. The installation is positioned just in front of the numerous wood-tables sustained by students, who stand around an impressive marble block, looking up and down in silence, building an unstable balance for Maloberti’s performance, this time less playful than usual (maybe he felt the psychological load of the Biennial). Giulio Paolini closed the show, dialoguing with Marco Tirelli on the theme of art as a joining link between illusion and reality. Thanks to a special project introduced by the curator in February 2013, all the exhibited works have been supported through a gathering of funds.

Moving to the Giardini, we stop off at Dutch pavilion where Mark Manders presents his project entitled Room with Broken Sentence, which consists of installations, sculptures, offset print on paper and architectural interventions that create an enigmatic impact through the use of different media: epoxy and painted bronze look like clay and brass reminds of wood. Germany and France, for the first time in the history of Venice Biennale, swap the pavilion and decide not to display national artists. France devotes its space to Anri Sala, Franco-Albanian artist living in Berlin, who takes inspiration from the Concerto in D for the Left Hand composed by Maurice Ravel in 1930, while Germany hosts the works by Ai WeiWei from China, Dayanita Singh from India, Santu Mofokeng, South Africa and, finally, the German Romuald Karmakar.

The Chinese artist, one of the most influential persons of contemporary art, creates a striking installation consisting of 886 wooden stools made by craftsmen that symbolizes WeiWei’s culture and stands for “the individual and its relation to an overarching and excessive system in a postmodern world developing at lightning speed.”

It is worth to visit United States’ pavilion made by Sarah Sze, who develops experimental site-specific installations, which collects myriads of different objects in an obsessive order, a sort of complex work stations that analyze the dichotomy between the difficulty of finding a stability in the world and its constant research. While getting to the touchy and symbolic Greek pavilion by Stefanos Tsivopoulos that reflects on different social classes and different ways of relating to money, we hear the bells ringing in the closer Polish show during the performance by Konrad Smolenski.

The path is still long and there would be many more things to talk about, but we decided to close this piece with the great project by Russia, where Vadim Zakharov displays Danaë, an installation that put up the worst human feelings: from anger to envy, from greed to hate and selfishness. Here a man astride from the ceiling throws peanuts peels careless of people below, and a prie-dieu is disposed in the centre of the room, to not to look up to God, but to direct the views to a dispositive that activates a rain of gold coins, and drive them down to a pile of money. Its disarming simplicity and direct approach turn it in one of the best pavilions of the whole Biennial.

Monica Lombardi 
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4 Questions To – Jack Dahl

Heavy books intruding our free time – to make positive associations with the word homework might not come naturally to everyone. Luckily we found a place that changes the scenario: Homework is also the name of a Copenhagen-based creative studio founded in 2002, bringing forth associations of timeless yet contemporary design, ambitious work and Scandinavian flair. The studio, specialized in brand expression and communication, has since the start built up a portfolio showcasing brand identity projects, packaging, image campaigns and editorial work across printed and digital media. The Blogazine had a chat with founder Jack Dahl – creative director who has worked with some of the most prestigious names within the field of fashion, beauty and luxury design.

Your studio is located in Copenhagen, a city that over the passed years has gained a lot of attention internationally. Has Copenhagen’s position as a recognized fashion city affected your work in any way?
Well, we are working in a competitive market, definitely, but I don’t really think that it has anything to do with Copenhagen’s newly-gained position as a fashion capital. Denmark is and has been famous for its rich design culture and heritage, so I would rather say that with the Internet and the whole online social world, it has become much easier to reach and maintain a strong relationship to customers even though they are based on the other side of the world.

Homework has actually been very fortunate in many ways – we have worked with some very interesting international clients, which again, attract other international companies. We have done a great handful of collaborations with Japanese clients like GAS interface, Addition Adelaide, A.P.J, Jun, Le Ciel Bleu, Franc Franc and Isetan, a few projects in the Middle East, Lady Gaga Parfums/COTY in France, Comme des Garçons/PUIG in Spain, and Galerie Perrotin in Paris and Hong Kong – they have all been amazing clients of Homework.

Your signature aesthetics is about simplicity and about letting the essentials be in focus, something that very much can be said about Scandinavian design over-all. Would you say that Scandinavian graphic design and art direction, just like Scandinavian fashion, is democratic and minimalistic?
I wouldn’t say that democratic and minimalistic describe Scandinavian design and art direction the same way as the fashion industry. The Scandinavian fashion companies are known for balancing nice contemporary designs at reasonable prices whereas it’s true that the graphic design and art direction are very streamline, minimalistic and distinct. For Homework it’s a way of always searching to highlight core values, key message or distinct personality in a company or in a product. I would like to think of Homework as having a design approach with an international appeal.

We’ve heard that you have a certain obsession for typography and typefaces. What is that is so fascinating about type?
It’s true – we do have a special place in our hearts reserved for type. Working with type is like working with an infinite amount of styles and ways of expression. When thoughtfully executed, typography can be both timeless and contemporary, both illustrative and understated.

You have a long list of prestigious references in your portfolio but what are you still dreaming about doing?
I, and Homework, dream of many good things still to come. We have never worked with an Italian client and it’s something we would love in particular – it’s about time! Other than that, fragrance, furniture and interior brands have a focus in our team these days. Personally, I’m also interested in the people behind a brand – the product in itself is not always the most important thing. Our most successful work has been with brands who also share our aesthetic and approach. Big brands such as B&B Italy, Vitra, H&M or Madonna would also be interesting as major commercial players.

Interview by Lisa Olsson Hjerpe – Image courtesy of Homework 
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European Fashion Schools: London College of Fashion

London College of Fashion is located in the city that has been said to be a city where the creativity gets created and as obligatory destination on the fashion week schedule if looking for new talents. LCF is also one of the six colleges that make up the University of the Arts in London, which today is Europe’s largest university specialising in arts and design.

When The Blogazine had a chance to talk to the staff and insiders of London College of Fashion we asked why London should be the city to study in. “London has so much to offer its fashion and arts students – world class museums, renowned commercial galleries to small artist-run exhibition spaces. The mix of international landmarks and major department stores in contrast to hidden markets, small boutiques and designer studios make students thrive in the London environment – there is inspiration everywhere!”

Other than the privileges that the city itself offers, LCF is one of the most well-connected fashion education institutions in the world. In an attempt to stay in the forefront of things, LCF has in recent years worked to expand the thinking behind fashion as a discipline – the college aims to both challenge and support an industry that depends on rapid change and consumption. When studying at London College of Fashion you are being confronted with areas such as health, sustainability and ethical design as well as with the science around the latest digital technologies.

Being a school that has more than 100 years of history and claims that the one thing certain for the next coming 100 is that they will be at the centre of things, we had to ask about the school’s thoughts on the current situation in the industry that constantly goes on high speed. “Social media will continue to increase the speed of fashion, both in terms of communication and commerce, although we are now also seeing a counter trend for slow fashion and an increased appreciation for traditional media. At LCF we are working to prepare our students for the complexities of the fashion industry by providing both traditional and digital skills and knowledge.”

“We teach using a variety of communication methods and tools: face-to-face communication, printed media, video, online discussion groups, webinars, social media, blogging and offline presentations. We also try to ensure that the pace of our teaching and assessment reflects that of the industry. Just as fashion has moved from a monologue to a dialogue, so too is this reflected in our teaching as we involve both students and the industry in our curriculum and assessment design.”

Industry relationships, cutting-edge research, new technologies and a great interest in its students – the list of what a high-end fashion school should offer its students could be made long. At LCF the priority lies in providing the students – no matter if they’re in the field of becoming designers, buyers, journalists, managers, stylists or any other degree possible to pursue at LCF – with the relevant tools to successfully forge a career within the fashion industry. “We thoroughly prepare our students for the world of work by helping source employment opportunities, internships, placements and projects relevant to their requirements. This often makes a profound impact on their career development.”

It’s hard to deny London its voice of say in the fashion industry and often pioneering ways of adapting to a business in change, and London College of Fashion is one of the schools that are trying to build a unique learning experience in order to produce the creative leaders of tomorrow. “People looking for a career in fashion should make the most of all the opportunities available to them.” – as far as we’ve understood, London seem to be just the right city to catch those opportunities.

Lisa Olsson Hjerpe – Image courtesy of Jas Lehal for London College of Fashion 
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Guest Interview n°48: Automatic Books

Even though a new art publishing fair opens almost every week in some angle of the planet, Italy has been quite slow in keeping up with the rest of the world. One of the few, if not the only, art publishing fairs in Italy is The Book Affair, held in Venice every two years in the occasion of Art Biennale. We have had a pleasant chat about this year’s edition with The Book Affair’s founders, Marco Campardo and Lorenzo Mason, whose curiosity, enthusiasm and wit animate both their graphic design studio Tankboys as well as Automatic Books, a publishing house they co-founded in 2009.

How and why have you decided to organize The Book Affair two years ago? What were your goals and interests?

We decided to organize the fair two years ago, since at that time there were no other art publishing fairs in Italy. Since we founded our own publishing house in 2009, we felt there was a need to promote this kind of production, especially in the context of Art Biennale, an extremely important event in our home town, Venice. It was the perfect occasion to bring together our small ‘independent’ world with what was happening in Venice at that time, opening this kind of production to the visitors of established art environment.

Could you tell us something more about this year’s edition of the fair?

This year’s edition will be much bigger and ‘serious’ than the edition of two years ago, when our resources and experience was much more limited. This year, we will have 30 accurately selected international exhibitors, together with three conferences discussing the role of artists’ books delivered by speakers like Dexter Sinister and David Horvitz. We will also have a series of short lectures and book presentations delivered by artists, designers and photographers like Peter Sutherland with Wonder Room and Studio Blanco, Paul Soulellis or Joshua Simon. In addition to that, there will also be an exhibition about artists’ books curated by Giorgio Maffei, with the goal of examining not only the contemporary production, but also discussing the role of artists’ books throughout the history.

What do you think is the role of publishing in contemporary art world?

There are two basic roles of publishing in the art world. The first role is that of educating and disseminating notions through catalogues, historical books and magazines. The second ‘modus operandi’ sees books as an instrument in promoting and communicating the work of an artist in an economical and, thus, potentially wide-spread way. This is the basic reason why artists throughout the history have produced books, since it was a fairly economical way to disseminate their work.

Looking at today’s production, how can we distinguish artists’ books from just nicely printed books? What is the quality that allows us to classify them as artists’ books?

The interesting thing about our fair is that it brings together collectors like Giorgio Maffei and contemporary young publishers, allowing a direct confrontation between some of the most significant artists’ books produced in the last 50 years with contemporary production. By comparing these two worlds, one cannot but wonder how some books have become widely known without being particularly well produced. This demonstrates how you cannot be certain in judging this kind of production, it depends a lot on the instinct of a curator or a publisher.

Why do you think there is a renewed interest in artist’s books? How do you contribute to this discussion with your event?

Probably it relates to the fact that the more we live in a digital environment, the more we feel the need to touch physical objects. Our involvement with these kinds of topics is due to the fact that we as publishers needed to find possible answers to some of the questions we had regarding the role of artists’ books. It was necessary for us to create a discussion around this topics with protagonists who have witnessed its evolution since the ’60, like Giorgio Maffei or Franco Vaccari.

Your main occupation is graphic design with Tankboys studio, what is the interest behind your occupation with projects like this fair that don’t enter directly in your professional sphere?

We believe that a graphic design as profession cannot exist without a concrete connection with other contingent worlds, like art, publishing or product design. Graphic design isn’t an isolated sphere; a book cannot exist without the contents that form it; a poster cannot exist without an event that it refers to. We feel the need to be directly involved with many different projects to be able to successfully produce our work, be it as authors, curators or publishers.

Why do you think so many young designers seek alternative venues and self-produced projects?

Well, we don’t believe this is uniquely a contemporary condition. Designers like Bruno Munari, Enzo Mari or Bob Gill have always produced books and other projects that didn’t strictly relate to their day-to-day activities.

What would be your ideal project to work on as Tankboys?

We would like to cite Enzo Mari who, when asked the same question, replied that he would have loved if someone had commissioned him to design the first ball ever. So, we would like to be the first ones to design something that is both brilliant, timeless and perfect at the same time.

Who would be your ideal client as Tankboys and what would be your ideal book to publish as Automatic Books?

One interesting book that we would have loved publishing is Guy Debord’s book “Mémoires”, bound with sandpaper so that it would destroy other books placed next to it on the bookshelf.

Rujana Rebernjak 
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4 Questions To – Martin Sebald

He spent his professional life working between London and Moscow, but now art director Martin Sebald is back in Berlin changing the finest fashion offices for his first own studio. Sebald and his team operates as a small design agency, and even though they are young as a company they offer over 10 years of experience from the fashion and publishing industry. In this studio questions are asked before answers are given, and focus lies as much on the big picture as on the details – “I believe they are inseparable”, says Martin Sebald himself when The Blogazine had a chat with him about independency, Berlin and where the things are actually happening.

After years of working for big industry names you are now back in Berlin working out of your own studio. Are you enjoying the independence?
It’s a really good question, it’s something I’m asking myself for the first time. Is this thing that I always wanted to do, work independently, a good thing? As for everything, there are advantages and disadvantages. To start with we have the advantage of not having a boss! Though, that means that I have to look for all of my jobs myself. I did this, started my own studio, because I was turning 34 and I thought “I don’t want to work for big companies forever, I want to start my own little ‘big company’”. Setting up my own studio has really enriched my life and made it more interesting, as well as it made me more multi-disciplined in comparison with when I worked in a magazine. Today I also do things for the web, for smart devices and videos and print. Running your own studio is also challenging, I realised that there are a lot of things I need to learn: how to run a business and how to pay taxes for example [laughs]. Budgets are smaller than when working for Vogue or Harpers Bazaar. There you just need to ask for money for a big photo shoot, even if it’s for a small designer. Now I have to deal with questions like ‘how do we pay the model?’ and ‘where do we get the model from?’ The question about where the money comes from is constant when working indpendently with small designers.

Berlin is your daily point of reference – is it as cool as they say?
Well, I was born in Berlin and obviously a lot has changed since the wall came down. I thought Berlin was really really cool when I was a teenager and started to go to underground clubs or squatted buildings, and the situation when I moved to Shoreditch in London was similar: it was an upcoming area that had just been ‘discovered’. Now Shoreditch is crowded, and maybe even the first McDonald’s will open soon, and that is my opinion about what is sort of happening in Berlin too. A lot of people come here and the city is becoming, let’s say, too popular and therefore commercial. The cool things are not open like in some other big cities, here they are hidden and you really have to look for them. Speaking about fashion, the interest here is something totally different, there are no rules of how you should be dressed. Anyone can walk around as they want in Berlin, someone really cool can look really ordinary.

So, Berlin is very cool if you are young, enjoy music and want to spend time discovering the city, but it’s actually not as cool if you talk about commerce and success. It’s a rough business area and very disconnected from all the big industries. People who want to be commercially successful have to bring in their clients from other cities or other countries.

Has the new “digital format” of fashion brought a lot of change to your work?
I felt this change already a long time ago. The budgets for photo shoots started to become smaller, people got fired and magazines had to close down. There was this recession in the industry, but in the same time I had friends who started to work with websites and became very successful. I was living in Moscow at that moment, and Russia was still emerging big time, so the impact of it wasn’t that big over there. Fashion was something really highly rated and fashion magazines were young. For sure the change in the industry has been huge, and even though there is still traditional art direction in advertising and for certain large fashion companies, but overall I can say that these digital changes have led me to get more and more smaller jobs and different types of jobs. I work with small designers on everything from website design, logos and business cards to creative consulting and look books. Recently I also worked on an online magazine where the news are generated by the users’ browsing behavior, and the design and images are automatically chosen by your computer and not picked by an art director or photo editor.

Your work takes you over country borders and to diverse markets. Where do you see the most interesting tendencies at the moment? Where do you turn for inspiration?
I believe that London will always have a big say in fashion and the creation of it. The UK has a strong media culture and London is on top of things, it’s a city where the creativity gets created. On the other hand, I was just speaking to Saigon a couple of hours ago. They are building a large publishing house over there and are launching several luxury titles, so even if it’s something I’ve never thought about, maybe the new magazine design will come from there. I have requests coming from Indian Vogue and friends of mine are working with Vogue Ukraine, it’s definitely a part of the market that is moving, but in the end I want to stay and work from Berlin. I always keep a foot in London and Moscow because I still have a lot of work there but I hope Berlin will develop into a bigger thing again!

Interview by Lisa Olsson Hjerpe – Images by Luca Campri 
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Countdown to Fotografia Europea 2013

The 8th edition of Fotografia Europea, the yearly international event devoted to photography, is about to start; the countdown has reached its end and Reggio Emilia is ready to welcome Italian and foreign visitors for the long opening weekend from 3rd to 6th of May 2013. 
As each year, the festival hosts numerous qualified workshops and encounters with artists and professionals in the field, who will be asked to talk about the main theme: To Change. Photography and Responsibility, divided in four sub-issues: surprise, faith, estrangement, vision.

Among the people invited to exchange their point of views we count the writers Tiziano Scarpa and Dževad Karahasan, the biologist Yael Lubin and the artist Tomàs Saraceno. 
With a multidirectional approach, Fotografia Europea presents a wide range of photo exhibitions scattered around the beautiful, historical, and sometimes unknown, locations offered by the city. 
Palazzo Magnani proposes the show entitled Murder is my business with pictures by Weegee – pen name of Arthur Fellig – one of the most famous photo reporters of the ‘40s in New York; At Chiostri di San Pietro you’ll be spoilt for choice: from Anders Petersen’s reportage of the earthquake that hit the area in 2012 (exhibition curated by Studio Blanco in collaboration with Slamjam) to David Stewart’s Stuff that focuses on the eccentricity of people, and to Andrea Galvani’s Higgs Ocean, curated by Marinella Paderni, which reflects on the natural energy transfer with the artist’s typical poetic approach.

The list is too long and could go on and on, but we cannot avoid closing this overview talking about the first Italian solo show by Peter Sutherland (b. 1976, Ann Arbor, Michigan), entitled Too Young To Care, coming from the collaboration between WONDER ROOM and Studio Blanco, which will be hosted by Spallanzani’s Collection (Musei Civici, Via Spallanzani 1, in the city centre). The American photographer will present a series of unreleased images and archive works that retrace a both intimate and evocative artistic path.

“I have been taking pictures since about 2002.” Sutherland told us. “Around this time my father passed away and photography was a place to focus my energy to, and avoid thinking about that part of me that was lost. I wanted to photograph everything I knew as a child. I did this over the following few years, and it became the backbone for everything else I would do. I have never wanted to control situations or carry a heavy camera, I just want to enjoy what I’m doing and get some poetic images along the journey. I want to go out and explore. I have always been interested in youth cultures because they give kids a chance to express themselves. I grew up skating and snowboarding, and learned so much at a young age from taking part – I was born at a good time, when I started skateboarding, no one had done a “kick flip” yet… -, but things are different today, everything is global and it’s all about the Internet and digital sharing of information.

He explained us how he liked the change: “It inspired me to evolve creatively, making films, installations and then back to photography. I take cellphone photos, do all the social media stuff and appreciate the way it is changing and speeding up trends and the way images behave/exist in the world in general. As for responsibility, we are reconsidering what that is. Once I was listening to John Baldessari being interviewed in an old episode of Art21. He was saying that he doesn’t think images should be owned. He thinks that would be like owning words and wouldn’t make sense. I think I agree with him: if you are uploading images, you are sharing them and you loose control over what happens to them.

I am very interested in things that happen because of photos, not who owns them. In 2006 I took a photo of a deer drinking out of a storm drain in the city. This photo became the cover of a Korean magazine, four years later a beautiful girl wrote to me on Facebook and told me she really liked this picture, she was living in Nepal. In 2010 I visited Nepal, 3 years later we were married in Kathmandu. Keep shooting photos, you never know!”

The exhibition will run until June 16, 2013.

Monica Lombardi – Images Peter Sutherland 
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European Fashion Schools: Polimoda

A while ago we spoke about the phenomenon of fashion schools. What is it all about? In what lies the allure and why do people cross country borders to attend them? First out in our series about European fashion schools is the famed Italian school Polimoda. The Blogazine had the pleasure of speaking with the school’s dean Linda Loppa about education, the business, social media and the advantages of being located in the heart of Tuscany.

A centre of excellence always in close relation to the business world – since 1986, Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design & Marketing has been internationally renowned for its high-quality professional training and lately also for its beautiful location at the Villa Favard in Florence. Design, patternmaking, marketing or communication, undergrads, postgrads, masters, orientation or specialisation courses: they offer it all. With 55% of the 1200 attendees, the Polimoda student body also confirms the statement of eager fashion enthusiasts going across frontiers to attend a special, chosen, fashion program. The positive adjectives around a renowned school are many, especially with front faces carrying names such as Ferruccio Ferragamo and Mrs. Loppa herself, but why should one choose Florence and Polimoda?

“Many students come from big modern cities with shopping malls and arcades and yet here, they find a creative tranquility where they are able to reflect on their future careers and find inspiration!” Linda Loppa mentions heritage from moments such as the Renaissance and the uniqueness of the small historic city as impacts on the way one thinks and works. “Obviously we cannot forget Italian brands such as Gucci, Pucci & Ferragamo that represent the dream and signature of Italian fashion, and Florence that offers a beautiful and stimulating environment, but the main reason to come here really is the high quality of education. Our communication, messages, website and business languages are all modems that positively project brand strategy.”

The Blogazine also spoke with a student from the Fashion Marketing & Communication program about being a student at Polimoda. “I had heard a lot of positive things about the school, and after researching other Universities in Milan, I decided that Polimoda is the best in my field. It’s not only a University but also a career centre and a brand – their brand image is impeccable. When I say I’m a Polimoda student, people are impressed.” The student mentions that her education has helped her narrow down her choices of interest for her future career and says that some courses might be more useful than others, but that her program in the end feels relevant to what a profession in the industry will require. “They want us to succeed, because when we do, Polimoda does too. However, it is a two-way street: as students we can boost the school image as well as we can ruin it. They are very careful in which students they present to external companies for internships.”

Besides a long list of completions, Mrs. Loppa grew up in Antwerp, another city well known for forming fashion excellence. About how the city might affect her management at Polimoda she says that her mature strategies aren’t so much dependant on one city’s influence as it is because of all her previous experiences together. “I have been in fashion a long time and worked in many different aspects of the industry: from retail to education, worldwide distribution and also museum management and curating. What I learned from all this wonderful experience I felt, and still feel, can be easily translated to Polimoda, through my directorship.” Looking at the more academic programs, Linda Loppa means that the importance of an education directed specifically towards fashion lies in the complexity of the business: having a lot of tools isn’t enough to communicate fashion, it also takes a lot of skills, research and understanding of this specific business. “The fashion business is more complex than 10 years ago. Branding, communication, design, production, distribution and store management have to be well balanced for the end consumer. That’s why when studying one of these facets, it still has to be seen in a broader context.”

As for almost any industry of today, the expressions of new media, digital PR and social media are everyday encounters, and no matter what position you aim for, the social sphere has added another aspect to the pace of the fashion industry. “Well, if you work in the fashion business, this speed is not unusual. Therefore we are used to work and think ahead. Thanks to the Internet we are updated on every change that happens in the world and as a consequence our faculty challenges the students to work in the business of tomorrow, not the business of today”, says Loppa when discussing the matter. What regards following a path in fashion she finishes by saying: “A good fashion school should offer its students the technique to develop a personal opinion based on knowledge, and an open mind-set and intuition will help develop an interesting career.”

At Polimoda you find an international and modern direction and maybe it is somewhere in the clash between historical buildings and modern technology that the charm of the school, as well as the fashion industry, lies.

Lisa Olsson Hjerpe 
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Guest Interview n°47: Studio Blanco

The Blogazine met Sara and Valerio Tamagnini – the founders of Studio Blanco – to discover their personal recipe to deal with art and creative direction of commercial, editorial and cultural projects, linking together freshness and unconventionality, along with an international network of creative minds.

Creative crossroads and artistic bonds, along with an extremely professional and distinctive approach are just some keywords of your activity. What led you to form a team and which are the common and different aspects of your personalities?
The studio began in a very simple and natural way. We basically felt the need to start doing something by our own – at that time I was mainly a promoter of events and club-nights while Sara was a freelance graphic designer. We decided to split a small space (around 30 sqm) and to try start doing something together: I used to do parties and consultancies for entertainment brands, so sometimes I needed also some graphics and I involved Sara – that’s how it started. Then step by step we had the chance to start developing real projects together: the first years were very hard as we used to work from 10 to 10 trying to mix commercial assignments (for the money) and cultural projects (for the soul or at least the pleasure). This was not a marketing thing but more the way we intended (and still intend) our work.

In your statement you underline your choice “to be placed on the margin – both geographically and mentally”. What does it mean for you from a professional and personal point of view?
Our studio is in Reggio Emilia, which is a small town in the North of Italy between Milan and Bologne, so we are not in the centre of anything: our area is more about doing than appearing or talking and we’re in the middle of the “Pianura Padana”, so everything’s flat, quiet and there’s always a sense of nostalgia – the one that Luigi Ghirri magically stole to his images.

So we are on a margin (as we are not in Milan or Rome) of a margin (Italy is not really the centre of the world), but at the same time we like the fact that Reggio Emilia is very well-located, so you can easily move to Milan, Bologne, Mantova, Verona, Florence (…) and it’s stimulating. Ok, to be honest with you, we are not in love with our town, but growing here helped us to understand the basic needs and sometimes after the Milan – Paris – New York and the “arty farty” circuit, the back to basic of our town – the fog, the ordinary life, the local food, the friends – is a great way to come back to reality.
And then, as Godard said “the margin holds together the page” which means that you can look to the text and the contents on the main area but without the border you can’t have the whole page. We like the approach in which the details are important as the most direct things. And we also like to be one step back, behind the curtains, not in the front row.

Have you ever considered of moving to another place anywhere in the world?
Yearly! But in the end we remain here so it must say something. Anyway, staying here is a struggle sometimes because we felt the need for more pressure, life and energy as you may have in a big town. But then again, being here means that you don’t lose your time in too many PRs or events and you focus your time on doing a good work, on developing a new project – and this is really important for us.

You established your studio in 2005, so it’s now your 8th birthday. If you would make a recap of your experiences until now, which are the main events/projects that influenced your professional growth?
I would say that the Carte Blanche capsule collection project for Sportmax is a good example of a small indie project born in 2008 that now has arrived at its fifth edition and it’s very well considered. Carte Blanche started as a collaboration with Christophe Brunnquell (former art director of Purple magazine) and then – year after year – we involved a lot of interesting personalities such as Kim Gordon, Lola Schnabel and Ambra Medda. It’s also really interesting because we are giving “carte blanche” to the artist in his/her collaboration for the project, but we also received a “carte blanche” from the brand as we curate the project from A to Z – from the identity to the selection of the personalities and so on. We grew up with Sportmax and this is a collaboration that make both of us proud of.

Then there are a lot of other projects we remember with pleasure: Control+C in Carpi (MO), a musical-based festival we art directed with Corrado Nuccini for 5 or 6 editions and in which we involved musicians such as Broadcast, Prefuse 73, Plaid, Nathan Fake, Apparat, Junior Boys, Sylvain Chauveau, Swod, Hauschka, Dustin O’Halloran, Johann Johannsson, Josephine Foster, The Field and many others.

And then the first italian exhibitions of Mark Borthwick or Christophe Brunnquell, the Recession editorial project in which we asked 35 international artists to interpret the recession theme through words, images, artworks and music with participants such as Richard Kern, Ed Templeton and Ari Marcopoulos.

Is there any creative person – old master or contemporary artist that you’d still love to work with?
Luigi Ghirri, Daido Moriyama and the Provoke members, Max Richter, Ennio Morricone, Ed Ruscha… But the list could go on and on and on.

You’ll soon be at “Fotografia Europea” (Ed. Note: the yearly international event devoted to photography held in Reggio Emilia) presenting TO BELONG, the project  - arranged with the Swedish photographer Anders Petersen, in collaboration with SlamJam – which is strictly connected to your home town and the earthquake that hit the area in 2012. Could you tell us something about the exhibition?
The earthquake of the last year really hit very hard our region. It was not only about the dead people, the damaged buildings and all the other scary things you can associate to each earthquake. It was also about the sense of impotence, the ordinary life as a gift and not as something that you can take for granted. Me and Sara had our first baby last May and for me it was strange to think about how life and death are very close to each other.

Anyway, we decided we had to do something, but we wanted to help in our own way, with our language, not trying to organize another benefit event or something that could sound like a fake. We wanted to do a project about the memory and saw this beautiful book called “Un Paese” by Paul Strand and Cesare Zavattini about the small town of Luzzara – near Reggio Emilia. The book was done in the fifties and then celebrated again with other photographers such as Ghirri and Stephen Shore. We thought of doing something similar starting from the earthquake and trying to shoot people and places from the hit area, involving someone that was not italian, that we appreciated and that had a special sensibility in portraying people in trouble: Anders Petersen.

I’m copying here parts of the beautiful text that our friend Cosimo Bizzarri wrote about the project – which is far better than all my words:

“On May 20th, 2012, at 4:03:52, a crack opened in the earth’s crust under a village near Modena called Finale Emilia, where for more than a thousand years the territory of Emilia has ended and the rest has begun. It lasted for twenty seconds. Then the streets quickly filled with men and women in their pajamas, scared to death. All but seven, who would never come out.

Over two months, 2,300 aftershocks left almost thirty people dead and a society in shock. Cars were smashed by the debris of the buildings under which they had been parked. Jackals stole uniforms from rescue teams in order to pillage the evacuated houses. Those who had been evacuated screamed at the other jackals: the TV crews. Palaces without facades, whose furniture could be seen from the street. Castles and bells towers torn down without dignity with dynamite. Everywhere, barriers and dust.

A people that wakes every morning on a broken land can have only one goal left: pull it together. So week after week, doctors went back to heal their patients, factory workers to cast their girders, cheese makers to sell their cheese and builders to erect houses.

Studio Blanco contributed with what they do best: a visual story to join together Emilia’s faces and places, as if to ward off the possibility that the crumbling of the land could be followed by the crumbling of the people who lived on it. To tell this story, they invited Swedish photographer Anders Petersen, a man who has nothing to do with these places, but who has made raw and moving reportages about vulnerability for more than forty years. Over eight days in November 2012, Studio Blanco brought Petersen to toll roads and museums, riversides and devastated squares, letting him photograph wherever, whomever, however he liked, with the idea that only an outsider could find and capture the spirit that keeps these lands together.

A young contortionist, a knotty tree trunk, two elderly people dancing in a ballroom. One year after the earthquake, Petersen’s photos create a small poem about Emilia, which sews up that deep crack and returns this land, whole, to the humanity that has always belonged here.”

Monica Lombardi – Images courtesy of Studio Blanco, Anders Petersen, Sportmax, Estelle Hanania, Carlotta Manaigo, Matteo Serri, Ari Marcopoulos 
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Guest Interview n°46: Philippe Malouin

We met Philippe Malouin, one of the most exciting young contemporary designers of today, during Salone del Mobile 2013 held last week.

Philippe was born in Canada but has studied in Paris and at Design Academy of Eindhoven, a school that has surely influenced his approach towards design. In fact, Philippe is more interested in un-orthodox production processes and exploration of different materials than in formal virtuosity. We had a pleasant chat with him on the occasion of his first solo show in Italy, properly titled ‘Simple’, held at Project B gallery in Milan.

Written by Rujana Rebernjak, interview by Monica Lombardi, video by Renzo O. Angelillo 
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Salone 2013: Something Good

Something Good is a project initiated three years ago by a group of young Italian designers with the idea of creating a platform for creation of hand-made objects, raising awareness towards the quality production of local artisans as well as giving an output for emerging designers, who often find it difficult to enter the corporate world, dominated by bombastic international names. For their third appointment at Salone del mobile, Zaven (Marco Zavagno and Enrica Cavarzan), Matteo Zorzenoni and Giorgio Biscaro have created a series of simple, but beautiful objects, designed both through their impeccable vision as well as the profound knowledge of local artisans, their partners-in-crime.

How did you designers meet?
We basically studied in the same university so we know each other from that time. We are a sort of a team of three different design studios: one is Giorgio Biscaro, one is Matteo Zorzenoni and then Zaven which consist of Enrica Cavarzan and Marco Zavagno. We started this project two years ago when we started working with artisans of the local area of Veneto, where we are based. The main group of organizers are us four and we started this new company with a first collection based on our designs, with the idea of opening up to other projects in the future.

What is the idea that guided the creation Something Good?
We started by inviting people to collaborate with artisans and local producers and we saw that it was going really well so we decided to start this project, Something Good. This is the first time since we started two years ago that we are here with some sort of structure that is not an exhibition, and it’s the first time we are actually selling the products we developed together. It’s very exciting!

Can you tell us something more about your show here in Milan?

We are presenting a few projects that are made in the Veneto area with local artisans. Since everything is made by artisans, the objects are really perfect in one way, but can also have certain ‘deficiencies’ or ‘mistakes’ due to the material we work with. They are not actually mistakes, but result in unique pieces. Like these vases, they are made of borosilicate glass and are hand blown which means that each piece is made individually, so there can be a difference from one vase to another.

Could you explain the particularities of the objects displayed? How and where were they made and who are the artisans you have worked with?
The vases (DIP) are designed by Zaven and this chromed centre-piece (NISH) is made by Giorgio Biscaro. The cutting board (IN-LAY) is designed by Matteo Zorzenoni and made with two different types of wood. These pitchers are also designed by Matteo and developed by a glass master in Murano. 
You can see from the display that we work with different scales of the project. We don’t want to be stuck with something that is complicated, we want to manage the production in the right way, so we try to find a way of working with the right scale of things together with the artisans. The product basically comes from our dialogue and we solve the problems and develop the objects together with the artisans. Their role is as important as ours, it’s really half and half in terms of design.

What were your goals in creating this project and pursuing this kind of production?

The idea is based on working in a way that is flexible: we can choose what to produce according to the abilities and skills of the artisans we are working with. The point is to make something that is of quality, and strictly related to the tradition of the work of the artisans. We work with small quantities each time according to requests and we are going to sell online – the shop opens in 10 days.

What do you think is the role of traditional crafts in Italian design?

People always think every project is made in the industry but in reality the first project or object is made by the artisan who makes the first prototype. Also, many times it’s the artisan who works with the final product for the industry. The artisans are the core of the industry in Italy – we don’t have the culture of machinery and we have really powerful skills, and traditions are still very important for Italian design. It’s important to keep the abilities of artisans alive. People think that the work of an artisan isn’t that ‘cool’, but actually, being able to work with your hands and your head together, is what creates great things.

You as designers curate the production process as a whole with Something Good, do you feel that the traditional role of a designer has changed today?

As a designer you must know everything. Every time you work with a company that works in different fields or with different techniques, you need to have the knowledge of the production process. So for us, to curate the whole process, being ‘on the other side’, has been a great challenge. It makes you grow as a designer because you start thinking about the communication, the packaging etc.

Lisa Olsson Hjerpe & Rujana Rebernjak – Photos Alessandro Furchino 
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