For our last issue of 2018 we have selected a series of works of architecture that share an approach of narrative impact. From a new cultural center (the Rhinoceros in Rome created by Jean Nouvel for Fondazione Alda Fendi Esperimenti), to a villa on the French Riviera (reinvented by Annabel Karim Kassar as a Hollywood set from the 1960s) or a residence in Venice with a high historical profile (reinterpreted in contemporary tones by Alberto Torsello), and a restaurant in Copenhagen (the famous Noma, updated in a collaboration between Bjarke Ingels and David Thulstrup).
What’s their secret? They are all works with a positive spirit, the result of intense maieutic research on formal and material authenticity, in relation to their contexts. Because as Gianluca Peluffo, an Italian architect presenting a project at El Sokhna, in Egypt, reminds us, regarding the masterplan of a micro-city now under construction, “blessed are those who have an identity.”
Strong identity, outside the box, ahead of its time, is the focus of our feature on Nanda Vigo, retracing a career that has returned to the spotlight thanks to a series of recent exhibitions. Her works narrate an interdisciplinary vision that is very timely today, a vision that is reflected from various vantage points in our in-depth coverage of design. Starting with analysis of the magical and anthropological value of objects, well understood in the past but overlooked by modernity, and shifting to reflections on how the digital ecosystem is altering our capacity for critical thinking (not always in a positive way).
The issue concludes with a review of new furnishing developments, also with an accent on narration and versatile approaches. Arches, waves and geometric figures are the elements in common for chairs, benches, tables with a non-conformist image, while classic velvet, the protagonist of armchairs and sofas, becomes a stimulus for the creation of psychedelic rock atmospheres that pay homage to a legendary group from the 1970s: the Velvet Underground.
With Icon Architects 2018 the Serie Oro of Interni reaches its fourth chapter in the story of Italian design. This year our theme shifts to Italian and international architects who besides creating prestigious buildings and interiors, have also been behind some of the most representative products of Italian design.
What is the relationship between architecture and the design of objects today? The critics say that after a process of distancing between the two disciplines caused by specialization of professional roles, design culture seems to be returning to its original viewpoints. Although in different ways and with different goals than in the past, architects are again expressing interest in product design, settling back into the groove of a long tradition. In a context marked by hyper-production and the digital explosion, their impact on the definition of objects points to new directions of research and new expressive codes.
We have asked almost 100 well-known protagonists how their way of designing changes when they shift from one scale to another. Their direct testimony does not set out to be exhaustive, given the many topics associated with this constantly timely theme, but it can offer a snapshot of what is going on inside the Italian International Design system, contributing to the transformation of creative thinking into iconic products.