Ossimori is above all else a beautiful word. It resonates like a wave with the O and I alternating. In english it translates as oxymora. An is a figure of speech that juxtaposes elements that appear to be contradictory. Like placing chalk next to marble. Studiopepe (the italian female designer duo) has constructed nine oxymora, small sculptural objects with a hybrid nature. Composed of chalk elements and different kind of marbles, they appear zen excercises in volumetric geometry. Something Ettore Sottsass would have approved of.
No other event, apart from Christmas, takes shop windows as seriously as the Salone. The installations I saw today through glass were innumerable and consistently inventive, humurous and engaging. It seems Design is as much about scenography as it is about objects.
You do only stop however, if the window is complex enough that it requires second looks to be fully appreciated. The two best set of windows that in my opinion you must not miss, are the ones for Rinascente in Corso Vittorio Emanuele (curated by Libby Sellers and Serpentine Gallery of London) and Tory Burch in via della Spiga (with work by Laura Bethan Wood). In both cases artists have been invited to create ad hoc installations; deciptively easy and fun because aesthetically refined, these installations hide numerous stories and interpretations. I leave it up to you to search and find!
Paolo Ulian is a somewhat unusual designer. Inequivocably italian in his intellectual approach to design, he also possess enough sense of humour to not take his peojects to solemnly. He seems both concerned with practicalities only to than purposfully disregard of them.
One of his latest works interestingly, is more of a performance than an object able to stand freely on a table. Interested in Marble – Ulian comes from Carrara – he has designed together with Moreno Ratti, a vase whose shape is revealed only by hammering the edges. They obtained this by cutting slits into a rectangular block of white Carrera marble so that the thin sections could be broken off. The vase has been showed in different occasions paired up with a video of the production method. The idea is that anyone can hammer at the marble block to reveal the vase. We might not all be designers but we surely can all be makers.
When spring timidily approaches, I get all excited about gardening, and in spite lacking a green thumb, I enthusiastically start buy plants for the house. The choice of pots however, is not quite as exciting as the choice of flowers. Fortunately the design duo Dossofiorito are on a mission to fill the gap. Last year they presented a series of hand thrown terracotta pots with bizzare and curious appendices. Like for example a magnifying glass to better inspect the structure of a petal, or to check no parassites are moving in!
Livia Rossi and Gianluca Giabardo are behind Dossofiorito. I met Livia a few years back in Graz; she is a little elf with a voice like the music of a piccolo. Gianluca stands next to her like the big friendly giant. Their idea behind the Phytophiler project is not to simply create nice pots, but to build a new sensibility to the plants around us. They call it a project of care and exchange, within beauty. I call it a poetic approach to design!
When I meet Rhian Malin at the Design Museum, she brings to mind Katy Perry (of all people!). With her very large lively eyes and blue hair I like her immediately. She is carrying a cardboard box under her arm, and when she finally opens it, out come five beautiful ceramic vessels in different sizes.
Rhian is a potter and one of the 23 designers featured in the exhibition I am organising in Graz for Design Monat. She has been projecting patterns on her work, and tracing them, as they become distorted by the curves of the object. The result is quite startling and somehow meditative. As she entrusts me her work for the exhibition she tells me of some new shapes she is experimenting with. She is not satisfied because this new project is not yet telling a full story. She will go to the V&A to find some inspiration. What a great idea, I might follow her!
I already knew that Oki Sato, the founder of design studio Nendo, is a chocolate geek. (Read about it here) So it was only fitting that he should design the ChocolaTextureLounge at Maison & Objet in Paris.
Like in a pristine white chocolate box, 2000 thin aluminium poles are set out to create a rippling chocolate wave. An exercise in subtlety. At the centre of the space, pieces of furniture designed by Nendo for companies like Capellini and Moroso, have been chosen for their soft-melting feeling and produced in custom made chocolaty colours.
The best bit of course, were the 9 chocokates themselves, also designed by Oki Sato, but those looked so good I ate them before managing to take a picture!