Authorship: Sam Baron (F), Catarina Carreiras (PT), Mariana Fernandes (PT), Dean Brown (UK), Valentina Carretta (IT), Charlotte Juillard (F), David Raffoul (LEB), Giorgia Zanellato (IT), Ryu Yamamoto (JP), Daniela Mesina (IT). Photo Marco Zanin (IT)
Belvedere is a collection of unique objects that showcase landscapes of Italian heritage as places of creative inspiratio. Ten international designers were invited to visit ten of the most stunning locations in Italy, as a distinctive collaboration between FAI - Fondo Ambiente Italiano and Fabrica. Each designer endeavored to experience their own cultural journey with fresh eyes, and translate it into a symbolic object, awakening old narratives in new individual ways.
The richenss of the inspiration is in the depth of FAI's historical properties, from the ancient Kolymbetra Garden of Sicily to the prolific Art collection of Villa Menafogio Litta Panza. The project interprets local perspectives, through photography, conversations, traditional materials and the skilled artisans who crafted the objects with their particular insights. The Belvedere exhibition documents each of these creative voyages, mapping the process that connects the nobility of the Fai mission, with new and personal cultural visions.
via Mozart, 14 - Milano
10 April - 5 May 2013
VESSEL - Designer: Dean Brown
Vessel was inspired by the contrast between the underground environment of the medieval foundations and the sumptuous 18th-century apartments in the castle. It also alludes to the well water, a much-needed and symbolic element of life in the building. Similar to the architecture of Masino, there is a uniting element, a stone top which holds the carafe and cup and, simultaneously, marks the boundary between the lower, rougher part and the upper, more refined one. The carafe’s lower part, below the stone, is made of simple terracotta, a reflection of medieval taste, while its upper part is a “finished” piece of pottery as is the matching cup. The colour of the articles’ inner surfaces allude to the presence of water, while the outer decorative details, in the same shade of green, seem like windows and doors, illusions that evoke the interplay of reality and fantasy in the trompe l’oeils painted in the castle’s rooms.
SPACE DIVIDER - Designer: Charlotte Juillard
Inspired by the Abbey of San Fruttuoso’s architectural stratification, the Space Divider screen reproduces the shapes of windows dating back to the three main periods of the abbey’s history: the earliest is symbolised by a round-arch frame; the time of the Dorias is represented by a lancet window evocative of the Gothic triple lancet windows in the new façade built by the Genoese family; lastly, the presence of fishermen in the monastery after the Dorias left is represented by a simple rectangular frame. While the three frames depict the architectural changes, the materials woven inside them stand for continuity and the activity carried out here for centuries: an old fishing net, a new one, and a piece of macramé to represent the craft work done by the women in the village as they awaited the return of the fishermen.
CANDLEHOLDERS - Designer: Valentina Carretta
The candleholder was inspired by both the sentimental and bellicose aspects of the concepts of protection and attack. The candle is stuck on an arrow, which may belong to Cupid or a soldier. The flame is a metaphor for the fragility of love, be it for a woman or the love that binds a family. While the domestic life of the castle was defended by the tower with its allegory of Love, the candleholder’s eternal flame of love is protected by a shade in the shape of a shield with a slit, the only opening which lets the light through. The candleholder’s metal components, hand-forged in a local, centuries-old forge, evoke the idea of strength and protection. The pastel-coloured base conjures up the idea of femininity, it is made of Rosso Verona marble, a local material used for building the castle walls.
LAMP - Designer: Giorgia Zanellato
The lamp, an expression of light and inner discovery, evokes different kinds of relationships between people and their environment. Made entirely of wood, its three parts represent the different areas along the path. The base is an untreated oak trunk, celebrating the kind of wild landscape typical of the Franciscan vision. The central piece depicts the clearing (symbolised by a piece of beechwood with its bark removed) that the Benedictine nuns lived in and anthropised. The last part translates nature in an art form: eleven olive branches in a circular arrangement bring to mind the work by Pistoletto and protect the light source. The aqua-coloured electric lead suggests the idea of the stream running through the lowest part of the woodland.
STAMP - Designer: Mariana Fernandes
This set of a stamp and its box symbolises the endless reproductions of an iconic landscape. Creating a new image of the wonderful waterfall is quick and necessary: the hand-engraved “work of art” becomes a simple, democratic object with which to create copies and multiple images. This instrument, considered archaic in our digital era, is made of wood and copper, two of the main materials used in Tivoli; it was made by local craftspeople. The stamp’s moulded edge represents the visible signs of the varying levels of the fickle, untameable river that transformed the landscape over the centuries.
BASKETS - Designer: Sam Baron
The contrast among the three levels of the bay’s scenery – the sea, the level land covered in vegetation and the headlands – is evoked by the three baskets made using different materials and techniques. The higher areas of the coastline are represented by the basket of fresh olive shoots and split cane. The sun-dried grass of the earth closer to the sea is depicted in a decorative element made using the local technique for making oven brushes. Lastly, the rushes-and-myrtle basket was made the same way as fish traps to symbolise the sea. Made by three local craftspeople, these baskets give a new form to centuries-old technical skills and they continue the timeless dialogue between people and the sea, a game of seduction and power in which Man tries to master Nature, which always has the power to return to a wild, virgin state.
ALPHABET - Designer: Catarina Carreiras
This new alphabet is a tribute to the feeling of involvement, public spirit and love for the arts which led to the opening of the little theatre of Vetriano. Its creation was a symbolic effort aimed at keeping the theatre alive. The wooden box is made of chestnut, the same kind of wood used for building the theatre and making the chairs. The box contains thirty metal stencils of the letters of the alphabet, evoking the importance of words as a tool of the arts and dialogue and as the means by which news about the shows was spread by word of mouth. The stencils include three special characters: a 50 for the fixed contribution of 50 centesimi paid by the eighteen members of the Società Paesana; a pictorial detail of the building; and the date of opening, 1890.
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The fruit bowl symbolises the richness of these gardens, where the beauty of the scenery is fused with multilayers of history and traditions. It drew inspiration from the ancient irrigation system and, more specifically, from the stones used for the troughs and for the underground chambers that were dug out of the rock to collect the subterranean water and distribute it around the area. The furrow carved into the block of tuff (the stone seen throughout the valley) is interrupted by three spaces shaped like the casedde, or plant beds, which were part of the irrigation system. In the flower bowl, they are used for holding fruit of different sizes: a representation of the variety of citrus fruits of which different kinds are often grafted onto a single tree. The fruit bowl’s profile reproduces the outline of the capital of the Temple of the Dioscuri. The temple can be seen from any point in the valley in a landscape like no other in the world.
PROJECT BOX - Designer: David Raffoul
Designed for the villa’s last owner, the box reflects his passion for the arts and the farsightedness of a man focused on the future. The Project Box is a container intended to hold an untiring collector’s next purchase, here represented as a blank page in homage to the work by Flavin, which Panza bought when it was only a drawing on paper. This single sheet of paper represents the archetypical blank canvas awaiting the artist who will fill it. The box’s volume is defined by two minute details based on a 18th-century decorative motif seen throughout the house and on a contemporary corner which is split open to reveal the work of art inside, the A4 sheet. The box pays homage to the contrast between the villa’s historical periods and its many stories: a collision among classical architecture, contemporary art and the courage of ideas.
BALANCE - Designer: Ryu Yamamoto
The balance is a symbol of the harmonious relationship between architecture and nature which characterises Villa dei Vescovi. This balance is represented by two elements that epitomise the link between the house and its setting: an arch and stone. The first is a common architectural element seen in the loggias, the windows, the doors and in the frescos as a sign of the passage between the interior and the exterior or as a pictorial illusion that seemingly breaks through the wall to open it onto fantasy landscapes. The stones are local, they come from the chalky, volcanic hills surrounding the villa. The material chosen for the body of the balance is wrought iron, widely used for the gates of the villas of the Veneto and for outdoor furniture; it was worked by a craftsman from Torreglia.
FAI - Fondo Ambiente Italiano