There are Roberto Sironi’s contemplative interpretation and the Millim Studio’s harmonious cross-sections, Ilaria Bianchi’s intuitive reclamation and Paolo Ulian’s masterful carvings: the contemporary design scene is packed with examples, because stone, in all its forms, exerts a mysterious archaic charm on the creativity of designers of all generations.
Without going back to the origins of ‘good design’ and trampling on the toes of Angelo Mangiarotti — to whom Agape dedicated several rooms at its 50th anniversary exhibition at the Mincio Park headquarters - it is worth underscoring a few passages from Ugo La Pietra’s book Lithos. Pietre Marmi Mosaici nell’Artigianato Artistico Contemporaneo, [Lithos. Stones Marbles Mosaics in contemporary artistic craftsmanship] in an attempt to find out why so many people love surfing on stone surfaces. “Altering the shape or consistency of stone is the first action that man makes in art and architecture,” writes Domenico Potenza. A seemingly simple act, but one that is actually by no means easy to achieve: “given that that action triggers a transformation that changes the primitive nature of places to retain in its memory the origin of construction.” A sort of baptism of fire for designers keen on getting to grips with the harshness of this ancient material.
Testament to this are at least three contemporary episodes, in which the pencil transforms rock into docile domestic animals and orchestrates the space with new harmonies.
The Episodi di Mosaico Contemporaneo [Episodes of Contemporary Mosaic] exhibition curated by Maria Cristina Didero at Palazzo Rasponi delle Teste (Ravenna, runs until 14/01/2024), attempts to steer mosaic in the direction of the world of industrial design. Along with six designers and creative talents (Arthur Arbesser, Atelier Biagetti, Gio Tirotto, Marco Guazzini, CARA \ DAVIDE and Francesca Lanzavecchia), the curator has attempted to cross-pollinate the everyday dimension with material explorations. “The tradition of mosaic has a crucial role to play in Ravenna, even influencing the thoughts of the psychologist Carl Gustav Jung,” says Didero, reiterating that mosaic is a patient and sacred art. “It is the instrument through which Divine Inspiration is manifested: light transforms the opacity of the material into a kaleidoscopic play of colours.” This is demonstrated in Gio Tirotto’s Andamenti series of light bodies that slide across the walls, bringing LEDs and opalescent glass tiles together: “my way of enabling centuries-apart techniques and technologies to dialogue.” Despite the challenges associated with serial production, mosaic is a ‘type-of-construction’ to quote La Pietra, lending itself well to the challenges of the contemporary.