When the stimulus of senses allows a shift from matter to meaning, decoration turns from surface to essence. Like a skin that relates things to what’s around them

About ten years ago I bought a work by Peter Wüthrich at Arte Fiera. It is a mixography. A technique that allows you to print in relief on fine art paper, accurately returning every single detail and texture to the surface.

The work is called Shortstory I and is characterized by a sequence of five rectangles of various sizes aligned on the lower base in such a way as to reproduce a skyline. The five rectangles are distinguished by monochrome alternations and five figurative subjects in color, each contained within the rectangle to which they belong.

Upon close exploration, two elements immediately catch the eye. The rectangular shapes reproduce in an extremely faithful way the fabric surface of a book cover and the figurative subject, replacing the title, is embossed.

These two elements are fundamental.

The surface, the material and the technique used are central to giving meaning to the work. Sight transmits, through the recovery of knowledge and cultural baggage drawn from memory, a tactile value of a different material (fabric) compared to that of the work (paper) and a transfiguration from the figurative work to the history it expresses. These shifts become central, in my interpretation, to give meaning and value to this work.

Without them, the artist would have obtained a different result: a decorative and graphic effect creating a good chromatic balance, a balance of forms, a refinement of the figurative subjects. But not enough to restore soul and depth to his work.

This work helps me to express a point of view on the value of decoration, a value that in my design approach must go beyond its visual immediacy to seek a deeper identity by relating to all the elements that contribute to the definition of the project.

When I work on surface projects, from ceramic to laminate to textile and wallpaper, it becomes essential for me to get in touch with the starting material, with the technology used and production techniques and on the impact that the product will have at the end of its life, also in relation to its use. This knowledge is necessary for the project, also trying to create a dialogue between apparently irreconcilable aspects of the process but which instead intertwine, in their interaction, a story.

If I had to resort to a translation, I would compare a surface to the skin, that thin layer puts us in contact with the world and its solicitations and I would like to think of it as a constant receptor.

The surface / skin is not just a layer of protection and physical completion but a frontier, a communication interface with the surrounding environment and the complex system of contemporaneity, a medium of its cultural and design contents.

The surface project, in addition to being a product, is a vehicle of values ​​that does not end with its decorative appearance but also seeks to communicate on multiple levels with its user.

Despite the years I look at that work of Wüthrich with ever new eyes, trying to imagine behind that string of covers, what contents, statements and posters can hide those books / non-books, imagining an ideal depth that does not end with the first glance.