* Sara Ricciardi, artist, designer and creative director. She teaches Social Design & Relational Practises at the Naba in Milan.
I’m 31 years old, and I have never owned a couch. The first objects I wanted for my domestic spaces were: a big table, ready for anything, an evocative, magical painting, and a large carpet for dreams and rituals.
Then, slowly, the rest found its way in… memories, necessities, time.
But no sofa. I love to find a sofa in other people’s homes. But a relationship of continuous seduction is a must, between us and our homes, and it has to be kept alive.
Comfort swallows you, leaving you in a daze
What do sofas have to do with it?
In my case, I see it as something that physically swallows me up, getting me drunk, leaving me in a daze. And because the square meters of space are few, they impose choices to keep creativity on edge. Like a flamenco dancer, I have banned objects that might open the way for sloth. Apart from the bed, I have opted for the horse’s approach to rest: standing up, always alert.
This is because my mental processes and ideas have always thrived on “critical” situations. The creative process has to be stimulated on a daily basis by the presence of limits and obstacles. The design muscles stay in shape, and for me that implies daily practice.
I have my 60 square meters, where everything happens: work, dreaming, entertaining, love, nourishment. My home and I are still very much in love, in spite of all the time we spend together. As if we were engaged, but with a relationship we can reformulate constantly, considering and applying ongoing variations. We never get bored in this intense tango.
Avoiding the perpetual motion of habit
Because the risk of wearing things out is very real, driven by the perpetual motion of habit. This is true for everyone. Try to imagine observing your home from above, for days on end.
What do you do? You go from the bathroom to the bedroom and then enter the living room, and then make coffee. Later you go to bed, and the next day? Let your imagination and your memory run free, observe yourself and your movements. The types of interaction become habitual, obligatory dynamics… we lean towards a very human process of “conservation of energies” in which we do not modify our actions, so as not to get lost. But our moods and our desires change, and our places have to change along with them. The house is often so obvious that it leaves us without any astonishment: this brings emotional inertia. The magic formulas have to be constantly updated.
Tucking the blankets into chubby temporal expressions like “forever” and “never” can be dangerous. It is a natural process. When we walk in the woods we are always concentrated and attentive, because we do not take the information of the surroundings for granted… In an airport it is just the opposite: everything is designed for immediate comprehension. Signage, exits, restrooms, emergency aid.
But houses are places where the intimate and the unconscious have to come forward, in a visible way. They can and should make room for geographies unknown to scientific maps, narrating different human characteristics to become places of great pathos, not squalid anti-dynamic apparatus.
Then there is another fundamental factor: tidal waves can’t happen in a lazy body. Feelings and ideas ferment in living bodies. Enthusiasm is generated in thought, and inside our skin.
There is magic in collisions
This is why in my home the positions I can take are many, and they all require a certain physical presence, a certain concentration. Everything is always moving, the objects vary, they get hung up or hidden. Books form trenches, little altars crop up and are constantly changed. I move the things in my home from one place to another without thinking about it, in a constant game that sometimes requires lots of effort to put things back in order. But this is how great breakthroughs happen. There is magic in collisions. Going from one place to another, bringing cut-out words and little objects, is like pollinating ideas.
Can we do this in spaces we spend time in every day? Absolutely!
Our ideas burst forth in this variation on a theme.
How? Let’s organize drifts in domestic spaces. Let’s ban things that have to last forever. Deconstruct the home! Don’t live in it by stacking everything at its perimeters. In the home, there can be no “best way” or “perfect position” based on flows of energy or light… Everything is relative and variable, on the basis of age and moods
When I was a child, my mother couldn’t understand why I liked to sit and read in the car in the garage. The half-dark interior, the way of sitting, excited me and stimulated my mind. All people have different desires and needs, which may not coincide, and can change the course of our lives. Today the place I like to read is on the stairs leading to the loft. My mother still can’t understand it.
I appreciate designers who follow psychological inclinations to create spaces. Not a style, but cascades of well-groomed identities.
This is the only way I want to design spaces. I like to imagine that they will change over time, because the design baton then passes into the hands of people, who in everyday life – if their spirit doesn’t fade – are the creators of their space, making it into a powerful manifestation of themselves: their masterpiece.
Cover photo: Ezio Scarlatella, scenography with Carlomaria Filippelli