While artificial intelligence progressively enters the toolbox of artists and designers, a new polarization advances in the world of design. At one extreme, the contamination between man and robot, at the other a generation of authors who relaunch the human factor in purity.
The revenge of the analogue and the new stills
In this revenge of the analogue, the key word is alchemy. Far from the debate on digital, in the ateliers where Made in Italy has always taken its most challenging forms, designers work on unprecedented fusions of distant materials, distill mixtures that seem to come out of new stills, invent surfaces and coverings using unexpected formulas.
It is a sort of alchemical journey which, for example, leads Sara Bologna to create for Eleit a glass vase designed to govern the growth of a substance that is difficult to harness such as mother yeast, while another independent designer like Ilaria Bianchi dedicates her most recent collection of ceramics to Temperance, the card that in the Tarot signals protection and healing.
The effort to be unique designers passes through the materials
Almost everywhere, among the talents dedicated to research, the effort to be unique emerges by generating products in which each element blends into the other and it becomes impossible to identify the origins and matrices of the final result.
It is no coincidence that Alchimia is the name of one of the latest collections designed by Luca De Bona and Dario De Meo for Incalmi, a Venetian atelier dedicated to the most advanced experimentation of ancient manufacturing.
"We wanted to create a dialogue between metal and glass, two apparently very distant materials, through the surface textures that we developed by experimenting with the various glass production techniques and the different options of metal enamelling to find a point of contact between these two realities" say the designers and art directors.
"The result was a family of objects where glass and metal are united and contrasted in a game of shades, streaks and textures that tell and keep alive the story behind each object, made up of craftsmanship, artisans and profound knowledge of the subject.
We also wanted to go against the perpetuation of rules to push the historic Venetian processes beyond tradition. An alchemy between materials that are irreversibly transformed, but also between master glassmaker, enameller and designer".
Paper imitates marble and marble imitates paper
The alchemical measure of design has always been the distinctive feature in the approach of Giorgia Zanellato and Daniele Bortotto, authors for Delsavio 1910 by Marble Marbling.
"The project" say the designers "was born from Giorgia's passion for Venetian marbled papers and for this process which has something magical, where the color suspended in water leaves an ever-changing imprint on a sheet of paper.
The resulting patterns imitate marble, sometimes challenging it in creativity in a series of incredible veins and details. We took up that challenge, and with Delsavio 1910 we decided to imitate with marble the paper that imitates marble".
Alchemy, therefore, as a method “Yes, it is the right word to talk about our research. A theme that is very close to our hearts is that of shades of colour, which sinceAcqua Altahas represented for us the idea of the tide and the signs it leaves on Venetian plaster.
For us it became a starting point for research which however we have always tried to obtain not with simple applications of colour, but as the result of a reaction between different elements. This is the case of Marea for De Castelli, where the oxides expertly applied by hand react with the metal surfaces, shading them in an ever-different way.
Or the Fire-Eating tables for Moroso, where the vitreous powder expertly applied by the artisans of Incalmi is applied to a copper plate with which it reacts in the oven at 800 degrees, creating plays of light and incredible color.
Or the engobe, the copper enamel applied to the Barene tiles designed for Botteganove. It also reacts with the ceramic once cooked, creating variations and shades that recall the sandbank of Venice illuminated by the sun.
And finally Del Savio, who for more than a century has been saving marble fragments by binding them with colored cements and creating compositions destined to live over time".
Porcelains that become surfaces
The ambition to bring something truly new into the world instead pushed in 2020Andrea De Marchi, CEO of the family company of the same name based in Verona, to bring porcelain to previously unthinkable planets.
"Many types of materials already existed in the covering sector, but all of them were much less valuable and performing than porcelain.
Nobody understood why I saw porcelain as an ideal material for creating covering surfaces, but the answer is simple: it is an eternal product, it has a smoothness superior to ceramic, it is waterproof and provides a shine equal to Murano glass".
In 2020, De Marchi met the future art director of the brand, Giacomo Totti, and together we began to develop the De Marchi Verona collections, enhancing porcelain with the design of elements from architectural references and sophisticated chromatic research.
"We have raised the bar quite a bit, we have succeeded thanks to continuous research and incessant tests and modifications: in the moulds, in the way and times of drying, on a structural level... Continuous variations to bring the material to our final goal .
Even for the chromatic outcome, a long process of tests and corrections was made: there were no pigments that could withstand the 1200 degrees necessary for firing the porcelain and make it resistant to atmospheric agents.
It happened that the color entered the oven with one shade and came out with a completely different result. Thanks to our tenacity, we managed to arrive at a palette that enhances porcelain in all its beauty". This too is alchemy.