At Curio Design Miami 2022, the Lanzavecchia-Wai duo uses Poisons to invite to a greener and more aware life: Francesca Lanzavecchia tells

An exhibition dedicated to poisons. It was set up by Particle, the multidisciplinary team that promotes culture, art, design, creativity through real and virtual experiences, in collaboration with the creative couple Lanzavecchia + Wai.

Until 19 June, within Curio Design Miami in Basel, the reality conceived by Bruno Bolfo with the aim of creating empathy between people contaminating art, culture and technology, has set up a space halfway between the real, the digital and the virtual where some glass objects carry a message of responsibility on a current theme such as pollution.

Lanzavecchia + Wai, creative collaboration between Francesca Lanzavecchia and Hunn Wai, have interpreted twelve glass objects, made by Murano glass blowers.

Their goal? Create awareness around the issues of pollution and invite everyone to experience the planet in a more responsible and conscious way.

But in what way? We met the Italian designer to find out more. Born in Pavia, class of 1983, Francesca Lanzavecchia has always focused on the relationships that objects have and can have with the body and soul. This was also the case this time.

Francesca Lanzavecchia, where did the Veleni project come from?

From the request of Particle who invited us to design a sustainable collection. A request that for us creators of objects seemed almost paradoxical.

Indeed, sustainability cannot be tackled in the short term but should be a long-term goal that arises from awareness and collaboration between disciplines, since it concerns every human activity.

The Poisons collection - in which microplastics, microfibres, pills, detergents, tires and lead coexist - thus started, from an extensive research, from a awareness of the harm we do to ourselves daily ingesting poisons that we produce and release into the environment and which then, invisible, return to our table.

Harmful substances that we encounter, breathe, ingest unknowingly. The pieces of the collection set a table creating a comparison, in an ironic, direct, intimate and interactive way, with some poisons.

The project is accompanied by a curatorial text by Maria Cristina Didero.

And what role does glass play?

It is the only barrier that separates us from these pollutants, isolating them yet keeping them clearly visible, thanks to transparency. This collection is a vanitas contemporary: in every sip of water we feel the thrill of getting hurt.

What is the deadliest poison for contemporary design?

Superficiality, looking at design as an empty, self-referential body, an end in itself that does not dialogue with the production context and the end user. We don't want to be landfill designers, we want to design objects that deserve to exist, that tell stories, objects that we become attached to, where beauty is function, objects that last over time as life companions.

Does design always have to be ethical?

I didn't study to save the world but I think I bring my sense of ethics into my design practice every day.

Design should be ethical, respect the production context, the artisans, nature and materials, it should be attentive to human frailties and diversity and, thanks to its beauty, help us in a tangible way. We always try to bring this way of thinking to the companies we work with.

How did the Lanzavecchia + Wai collaboration born?

In the years of the Master at the Design Academy. Hunn Wai and I have built, indeed one could say 'engineered', a bridging study between two continents, between two nations as different as Italy and Singapore.

Why the need for this bridge?

To be sure of ourselves, to have visions of the world from different points and distant cultures, to never take anything for granted, to ask ourselves questions every day, to find in the hybridization of feeling both advantages for our customers that new visions for the future.

A commitment that combines Italian craftsmanship with the best creative workshops in the world, together with technology and Singapore's gaze, always looking to the future.

Speaking of the future, how can the digital world improve that of design?

Man has always built objects to increase his abilities, strengthen his body, extend his consciousness. We have always been in relationship with the objects we buy. They are symbols that tell others who we are.

I chose to be a designer because I am convinced that objects are a beautiful extension of people. They know how to tell the historical moment in which they are created and, at times, they have the ability to predict the future.

As a designer I think we need to ask ourselves what can we do to integrate digital with the world of real objects. With Veleni we have a digital storytelling to our objects. Through the Particle app, they come alive with augmented reality scenes of fish, for example, who ingest plastics or rains of medicines together with video content that tells the collection.

One day he said that the designer is a researcher, engineer, craftsman and storyteller at the same time. Is there a part that prevails more?

I would not say. According to the project, I let myself be guided by lateral thinking and I like to wear different hats. Different projects have narrative contents, different innovative technologies. Our fil rouge is research and the desire to tell a story while keeping ourselves deeply human.

Is there anyone who has inspired you more than others?

I don't have a particular teacher in mind. I am restless and constantly looking for answers and inspirations between contemporary art, pop culture, cinema, the books I read to my little ones in the evening. It is life as a whole that is an incredible source of inspiration.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

In my studio making plans. Or maybe in some distant island, maybe in Lanzarote. I hope for a slower pace but never stop asking myself questions and seeking answers.