In corporate communication, we are witnessing a change of pace towards a more realistic and warm image, full of details, where architecture is often contextualized. Or towards settings influenced by Instagram shooting techniques, with vivid colors or abstract geometries, which make use of 3D animation. Far from an 'international style', companies emphasize identity and recognizability. So let's forget the cold environments, the abstract styling and the rarefied showroom atmosphere that characterized corporate communication until a few years ago.
The ceramics brand 41zero42 implements two curious projects inside an already impactful ad campaign coordinated by Martino Manni and Simona Bernardi. “Naked!” suggests an unusual way of cross-connecting product lines: “It is a photography project that narrates forgotten or unexpected corners of our living spaces,” says Bernardi. “The result is an alchemy of details, raw, stripped down, only apparently random, which tries not to be too trendy, obvious or contrived. Naked! is a spontaneous story made of everyday fragments.” With DWA Design Studio, Area41 is a multimedia project organized in a book and audiovisual animations for Instagram. It is a sort of collage of surreal non-places, created in collaboration with Karmachina, to present products. “It comes from a creative process that goes beyond the standard product representation, placing it in a dimension between the symbolic and the tangible,” DWA says.
Graphic design becomes product, and vice versa, giving rise to a coordinated image. For antoniolupi, Gumdesign has developed a sort of visual code, underpinning the entire range of communications and setting their direction. Everything starts with the Tra le Righe wallpaper and now extends to packaging, company vehicles, the sets of the new ad campaign and the forms of some of the new products. Just as the drawings of Vitruvius put natural figures into geometric multiples or sub-sets, so Tra le Righe inserts the production catalogue into geometric sets, contaminating them. “Such a multi-form project,” the design duo from Viareggio explain, “has been possible only thanks to constant dialogue between us, as designers, and the creative director Andrea Lupi: a professional relationship of empathy. It is an operation that covers the construction of a language without typological boundaries, based on geometric lines and multiple dimensions, with rhythms that can be broken up or overlapped. The project becomes the minimum common denominator, in both two and three dimensions.”
Cristina Celestino has been the art director of Billiani for over a year now, and works not only on products, but also on the image of the Friuli-based company. “We started with the restyling of the logo, and then worked on the main tools of communication - from the website to digital media, to the catalogue - with the aim of narrating a company that focuses on the contract market, while developing pieces with a home furnishings approach. The catalogue is not just an effective sales tool, but also a narrative of a vision, summed up in the motto ‘Beyond Belonging.’ The mood of the catalogue, with photographs by Mattia Balsamini (taken in buildings by Joze Plecnik and Ivan Vurnik in Ljubljana, ed), starts with reflections on the history and identity of the company, on the theme of ‘borders’ seen as an enrichment, rather than a limit. The message I wanted to convey is that of a solid reality, rooted in the territory and the district, which makes good construction and workmanship with wood into a strong point, while embracing design in its essence. I believe the settings do not have to be real, necessarily, but should help the products to come alive, offering clients the proper freedom of interpretation.”
The use of color and graphics makes Pedrali’s image stand out, in the products but also in the tools of communication. “With the expansion of the catalogue of upholstered furniture,” CEO Monica Pedrali explains, “we needed to have installations that would suggest true settings. The use of colors and soft, almost theatrical lighting brings character and drama to the representation.” The Bergamo-based firm relies on the art direction of Studio FM and the photographs of Andrea Garuti to make dreamy, colorful atmospheres: “We focus on games of light and shadow that bring the products into the foreground, while giving rise to an image that differs from the abstract, suspended approach of the past.” In the new Pedrali Working Spaces catalogue, the sets are theatrical, hybrid situations, neither office nor home, underlining the flexible character of the furnishings. This mode of communication is joined by a pathway of digital presentations, which are more necessary than ever today due to the lack of trade fairs: “We also want to pursue more immersive, ironic communication, above all through the social networks: during lockdown we sent our designers a GoPro, asking them to record short videos to describe new products. The results are exclusive contributions, shot in unusual places and in the designers’ own homes.”
With the Vite (Lives) project, conducted by the photographer and director Gianluca Vassallo, Foscarini has headed in a radically different direction. “We were tired of seeing products put on a pedestal, in controlled, lifeless images,” says Carlo Urbinati, president and founder of Foscarini. “Vite changes the vantage point: we have taken the product away from center stage, putting people and their homes in its place, entering on tiptoe, without changing anything. We selected 16 homes in five different cities on three continents, with lights and rooms with which many people can identify, in a wide range of styles and household situations. Vite is not just a photography project; it is becoming our emotional catalogue, complementary to the other, ‘rational’ catalogue, a practical ABC that gathers only the information on the products.” Gianluca Vassallo: “Here the design imaginary is dismantled, the intellectual abstraction of design is transfigured when it enters a real home, and objects can take part in the lives of people. I have taken the company closer to the truth of things, rather than a representative image. Because when you already have a strong identity, filtered representation is no longer needed to reach your audience.”
Who would have imagined that the rock star Bryan Adams is also an excellent photographer? His gaze, a novelty for the world of furnishings, interprets the ad campaign for 2021 of the German company Kaldewei. “We have chosen a different language of communication,” says Yvonne Piu, marketing manager of the firm. “To narrate a real product that reflects the spirit of the times and our values of quality and ecology requires communication that touches people and makes them think.” Natural Union is the concept behind the photography project for the Ming and Milena washstands in enamel steel, suggesting ideas like social contact and hygiene that are crucial in times like these. Paying great attention to detail, Bryan Adams offers us an intimate view of the affections and habits of everyday life. “To connect with others, without compromises, seems to clash with the rules of social distancing imposed by the present situation. But if we take our responsibilities seriously, to each other and to the environment, we will be able to get closer than ever before. Little everyday gestures like washing your hands have never been so important before,” the photographer says.