STORIES OF DESIGN

Gaetano Pesce

“It is not what is visible that exists, but what we look at” 


One of the Masters of design, eccentric, provocatory, inventive, radical. The most important point of contact between his work and the Salone del Mobile was the launch in 1969 of what was to become a design icon, the Serie Up (C&B Italia, produced for a few years from 1973 before going out of production and then being reworked by B&B Italia in 2000): “It caused a sensation because of its innovative technique, material and content” Gaetano Pesce.

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Those great invertebrate shapes – because there is no internal structure apart from the material out of which it is entirely constructed – polyurethane foam, covered in nylon and jersey mesh, “are also the pieces I am most fond of”.  Its launch at the Salone del Mobile was a happening: vacuum packed in advance, once the pieces were released from their airtight plastic they began to take on shape and volume. Perhaps with this in mind, “whenever I go to the Salone, I always look forward to the chance to breathe in the effervescent atmosphere and meet interesting people”.

“They say ‘it is not what is visible that exists, but what we look at’, and therefore everything I’ve seen at the Salone relates to two aspects of Design, one useful and the other useless.”

 This “thirst for innovation” is an element that distinguishes the whole of his prolific career, and is what the Master believes every great designer needs. From designer to design, in a current definition: “an adult expression that carries practical values and existential content”.

What about design in the next 10-15 years? “I think it will draw on recognisable shapes rather than abstraction – which we’re all a bit sick of. We will finally see minimalism and a certain type of rationalism go out of favour: design will then veer away from decorativism, as will architecture.”

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Designers and entrepreneurs: a potent combination. “I think that the most important person in this combination is the entrepreneur, particularly Italian entrepreneurs, who are blessed with the qualities of curiosity and daring, which their foreign colleagues lack. The availability of this category means that creators who have no chance of seeing their designs make it in their own countries flock to Italy. Therefore yet again Italy is helping foreign makers, like El Greco, Georges de La Tour, Rubens, Velazquez etc. in the past.”