When you look at a mountain you are not observing a ‘thing’ but a duration. What has taken on visible form as a mountain peak is the vastness of deep time, which one millimeter at a time has raised the earth and the stone by hundreds of meters. You can feel a similar sensation if you observe the objects halfway between art and design, sculpture and domestic installation, by Guglielmo Poletti. The sensation of looking not at an idea in concrete form, but at a distillate of time, the material fallout of a process that has been the true dispensing agent of the form.
This idea of objects that come not from an aesthetic prejudice but from respect for a process in which time is awaited, and encouraged, is central to Poletti’s method. Which leads to the typical appearance of his pieces, theorems of architecture free of any shortcuts of styling and instead made as solemn as the boulders of Stonehenge. Architraves of silence that define space. He never resorts to any random, passing fashions.
“The idea of design as drawing is not part of my way of working. In my method,” Poletti says, “I completely bypass the drawing table phase and start directly with the material.” A material explored in its secret ribbing, smoothing down deep tensions, gathering immanent configurations. In pursuit not of an aesthetic solution but of a sublimation of the process. This is how the Void pieces for Desalto take form, subliminal investigations of architectural concepts of mass and emptiness. Likewise, the MM8 table, also for Desalto, displays the structural limits of the material, putting aluminium under tension to the point of bringing it to a minimum thickness of 8 mm.
To make such things, you have to have partners who are willing to let time do its part. Because the laws of physics cannot be bent to your will. You can only align yourself with them, making them your allies. “What interests me is to collaborate with the right figures, based on what I want to do, be it a company or a gallery. With Desalto that is just what happened: I was not presented with a preset brief, but left free to develop the research in my own way. So whereas at the start the project was supposed to lead to the making of one-offs with a demonstrative function, in the end pieces emerged that were suitable for insertion in the catalogue. Not because that was our objective, but because that is where the research took us.”
In this interpretation of design, there is much of the Dutch approach Poletti absorbed at the Design Academy of Eindhoven, that cradle of a method that is widespread by now that puts experimentation with processes, free of any formal etiquette, at the center of the project. It is only by respecting the process, without forcing it into your own aesthetic prejudices, that the equations of architectural geometry that are the objects of the designer can emerge. Not by chance, he cites architects like Peter Zumthor, John Pawson and Maarten van Severen as his main points of reference, acknowledging their ability to coordinate the principle of construction with the deconstructive principle of form.
All this translates into a constant search for limits, seen as “deconstruction of an existing image to take the piece to a point in which it might seem too fragile to be utilized, but with an added strategy that restores its force. The idea is to go beyond the limit and then turn back, along another path.” Thus carving out a new phenomenology of the archetype. A new eternity of the form that sheds light on the logical foundations of the project, synthesizing it as a chemist synthesizes a molecule.