Quaderna by Superstudio, the Radical's manifesto collection, turns fifty and Zanotta celebrates it with three unpublished projects

Fifty years are a guarantee to be able to start looking from afar. And it is from this position of privileged detachment that we return to the Zanotta showroom in Milan to celebrate the anniversary of the Quadern Series a designed by Superstudio. And to realize that, despite the distance, Superstudio's work still has a lot to say. Indeed, to shout, as he used to do during the seventies.

For the occasion, Zanotta set up a window at the Piazza XXV Aprile toll booth dedicated to the total look of Quaderna. The effect is still hypnotic, disturbing, difficult. It is the observation that Adolfo Natalini and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia had chosen a complicated way to free themselves from the weight of functionalism and historical design.

Because Quaderna was revolutionary

The Quaderna Series stems from a thought on surfaces and the invention of a neutral two-dimensional landscape which, while connecting everything, leaves the freedom to create objects, environments, neutral landscapes.

The idea is to make the space democratic: no history, no stylistic or material references. Only space divided by a grid that can be extended at will on an orthogonal mesh and called a "histogram".

Superstudio's idea is first and foremost consecrated to freedom of interpretation and to regaining a longed-for 'peace' of thought.

Natalini and Toraldo di Francia seem to allude to Zen, but the 1970s, although imbued with spiritual ambitions, were not years of 'peace'. Indeed: the invitation of the Radical is to set ideas in motion, all together. As also happens at Superstudio, for which collective and connected creativity is a fundamental humus of the productive and design revolution.

Producing Quaderna in the 70s: the courage of Aurelio Zanotta

The transition to the product, however, is made once again by an entrepreneur, Aurelio Zanotta, after many brands (including famous ones) reject the Series proposed by Superstudio.

The squared, as we said at the beginning, despite the best intentions is vaguely disturbing and hard to understand in its neutral elementary graphics.

In 1972 Zanotta therefore put into production, with a courageous entrepreneurial gesture, the Superstudio Series and gave it the name Quaderna.

An apt name, which makes the graphic alien printed on laminate more attractive. The architectural forms (as Superstudio understands them) that make up the collection are three tables, the desk, the console and the low table. To which are now also added a desk, a low table and a rug.

Halfway between industry and craftsmanship is the revolution

As with all of the Radicals, the provocation that challenges functionalism passes through a productive mix which is always halfway between industry and craftsmanship.

On the one hand, the white Print laminate with an isotropic digital print (with the same qualities in all directions) with squares. On the other hand, a complex craftsmanship, similar to inlay, which transforms each piece into a work of manual skill and patience.

Eight hours of work, because "each Quaderna object is born from a single sheet of laminate so that the center distance, even if misaligned by a few tenths, is the same. Only in this way are the squared surfaces continuous in the three dimensions oriented by the Cartesian axes in compliance with the original project", explain the company.

It should end like this, with this productive explanation that denies industry and even denies artisan inspiration. Because the Radical hides, everywhere, a rock band look: provocation, total freedom and a good dose of indifference to the common sense.

At this distance, as we said at the beginning, it really seems a good starting point to start thinking about everyday things again. Which is what needs to be done now.