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Tag Archives: Lisa White

10 Questions With… EDIT Napoli Founders Domitilla Dardi and Emilia Petruccelli

EDIT Napoli, a new fair created to support and promote independent design and craft, launches on June 6th in Naples, Italy. Focused on the rise of the designer-maker figure, the debut will feature 60 exhibitors—among them well-known and emerging designers as well as established producers and manufacturers—who all have one thing in common: they favor quality over quantity and have a practice rooted in making. Interior Design spoke to the two women behind the project, Domitilla Dardi and Emilia Petrucelli, about the city of Naples, the event, and alternatives to globalized, standardized products.

Interior Design: What does Naples represent to you compared to other Italian or international cities?

Domitilla Dardi: It is the only truly international Italian city. It was the capital of Italy before Rome was and has an urban structure that brings to mind both the great European metropolises of Paris or Madrid with their wide ‘boulevards’ and the small Italian art towns. And then it also has the port and the sea. Naples is one of the Mediterranean capitals and its geographical situation makes it perfect as a crossroads for exchange and cultural encounters. It is no coincidence that it has always been the only Italian city, along with Venice, that is a real reference point for international contemporary art. They are both gateway cities between East and West.

One of the exhibitors at the fair is Beirut-based Nayef Francis. Pictured are his Weave floor and ceiling lamps made of beech wood and wicker. Photography courtesy of Rana Massaad.

ID: What was it about the city that inspired you to create this event?

Emilia Petruccelli: As a city, Naples never leaves people indifferent. There is too much sameness and standardization in the world and I believe that we need more cities like Naples, where you can breathe and cultivate difference and independent ideas. The people who will come to EDIT Napoli are looking for something different, something unexplored.

ID: When did you get the idea for EDIT Napoli?

DD: Emilia came to me two years ago with two very clear ideas: that we should launch a new fair and we should do it in Naples. Together we understood that instead of focusing on sectors like collectible design and design galleries—which already have endless venues and events—we should focus on the world of small batch production, craftsmanship, and the designer-maker. Today this figure is more relevant than ever. We need products that have an identity.

EP: We wanted to create something that was curated, but where people could still be surprised. An event with purpose and clear economic intentions. I believe that independent design has to do business in order to survive.

Read more: 10 Questions With… Lisa White, Curator of the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne

During the EDIT Napoli residency program, Lebanese designer Khaled El Mays worked with the leather and iron artisans of Quartieri, a central working-class district in Naples, to create these refined coffee tables and consoles. Photography courtesy of Claudio Bonoldi.

 

ID: Why was it important, in your opinion, to launch EDIT Napoli?

EP: Because the retail world is moving and changing fast, from the internet to the commercial and industrial strategies of flagship brands. It needs to innovate and to do so it needs specific places in which it can reflect this change and address it. EDIT Napoli proposes being that place.

DD: Because a fair dedicated to this market segment didn’t exist. We have done a lot of research in the run-up to the event, but the fair won’t be about prototypes or concepts; it will be about real products for the real world.

ID: Who do you want to reach, convince, convert with EDIT Napoli?

EP: We aim to reach and connect international buyers, architects, designers, shop owners, interior designers, all the different strands of the design world basically. The ambition of EDIT Napoli is to become an international reference point for authored design, which thanks to the push of the fair we hope will experience sustainable growth within a few years.

Amsterdam-based design duo Faberhama spent their month-long residency working with historic textile company De Negri & Za.Ma in San Leucio, a town known since the 18th century for silk weaving. The prototypes made then will be showc at the fair and then produced and sold  under the Made in EDIT label. Photography courtesy of Claudio Bonoldi.

 

ID: Is there a large community of makers, artisans and designers in Naples and the surrounding area?

DD: There is a large community of artisans throughout Italy and in all Mediterranean countries. It is a historical fact that where industry did not have the right socio-economic conditions to take off, craft continued to thrive. But today craft uses updated tools and advanced technologies. There is still much to do to make this sector more widely known and more accessible and this is what we are aiming to do. We want to be a sounding board for the sort of design that can be a genuine alternative to globalized and standardized products.

ID: Do you hope that the event can work as an economic engine for the city?

DD: EDIT Napoli was created as something that could impact various industries in the region. A good example of this is the Made in EDIT residencies. We hosted international designers for a month so they could work with local artisans. The result won’t just be a unique piece that tells the beautiful story of this encounter, the result will be an object or collection that will be replicated, produced, and sold as part of the Made in EDIT brand. Everyone involved in the process will profit from this relationship, not just economically but also in human terms.

The venue for the festival is the monumental 13th-century Complesso di San Domenico Maggiore, a Baroque monastery built on older ruins that has been transformed over the centuries. Photography courtesy of Bianca Hirata.

ID: Can you give me some examples of important and interesting crafts, materials, and manufacturers in the area that you are looking at?

DD: For Made in EDIT, we investigated the ancient Bourbon silk factories of nearby San Leucio with Amsterdam-based designers Faberhama, the leather and metal artisans of the city’s historic central districts with Lebanese designer Khaled El Mays, and the ceramicists of Minori on the Amalfi coast with NYC-based artist Reinaldo Sanguino. In the future we will focus on other manufacturing processes, too, such as coral brooches and Capodimonte porcelain, for instance.

ID: Are there any other local crafts that we should know about?

EP: We are already looking at numerous other artisans and supporting them, so they can take part in the 2020 edition. They include stonemasons, leather goods craftspeople, weavers, and cabinet-makers. But we also want to open ourselves to other craft sectors and not necessarily only local ones from the Campania region.

Milan-based practice De Amicis Architetti will be at the fair with its modular “Otto” table, which can function as a workbench, a dining table, or a large communal table. Photography courtesy of Alberto Strada.

 

ID: Tell me about a particular highlight at EDIT Napoli? Something you yourselves can’t wait to see?

DD: We are excited to see the new collections. Almost all of our 60 exhibitors are bringing products that they are presenting commercially for the first time at EDIT and for this reason we have launched a dedicated award for best new product to be judged by an international jury. It will be interesting to see the ‘big names’ in design rubbing shoulders with experienced craftspeople and the most disparate typologies being presented side by side.

Read more: 10 Questions With…the Team Behind the Dundee Design Festival 2019

Continue reading 10 Questions With… EDIT Napoli Founders Domitilla Dardi and Emilia Petruccelli

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10 Questions With… MoMA Curator Juliet Kinchin

Juliet Kinchin, curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA. Photography by Robert Gerhardt, courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Juliet Kinchin, dressed in black accented by pops of color from her necklace (a find at the MoMA Design Store) and ruby-red square bracelet, walked through The Value of Good Design exhibition at theMuseum of Modern Art in New York, pausing at an armchair designed by Hans Wegner in the 1940s as if seeing it for the first time. But this was hardly Kinchin’s introduction to the object in front of her—she curated the exhibition.  

As Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA since 2008, Kinchin has organized design retrospectives ranging fromCounter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen (2010-11) to Century of the Child: Growing by Design 1900-2000 (2012) and held faculty positions at The Glasgow School of Art and at The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in Design in New York. Positioning objects in ways that create new dialogue is her forte.  

The Value of Good Design runs through June 15, 2019 and features household objects, furniture, and appliances from the late 1930s through the 1950s when the U.S. emerged as what Kinchin calls a “design superpower.” It also spotlights MoMA’s Good Design Initiatives, which served as an incubator for innovation at the time. After the walk-through, Kinchin shared some insights into her curatorial process with Interior Design, including her earliest design influences, addressing inclusivity in exhibitions, and the joy of re-purposing vintage curtains.

The Anywhere Lamp by Greta Von Nessen (1951), made of aluminum and enameled steel. Photography courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Interior Design: What does ‘good design’ mean today?

Juliet Kinchin: The words ‘good design’ are always going to conjure up different things for different people. And something that was considered good design in the 1950s doesn’t necessarily hold up nowadays. Good design should reflect technological advances and the social conditions or aspirations of each generation. It goes without saying that most people don’t want to live in the past or dress like our parents and grandparents. Having said that, some objects and core values do seem to have stood the test of time—generally those which combine eye appeal, functionality, and affordability. This was a combination of values that MoMA curators, like Edgar Kaufmann Jr., were trying to seek out at mid-century. What’s perhaps different is the way we are now thinking more about sustainability and the ethical dimension of the way things are made and sold.

ID: Why choose to explore the value of good design through mid-century pieces?  

JK: The second world war and its aftermath brought design into focus as a tool for engineering change, whether social, technological, or economic. It was a time of tremendous experimentation, innovation, and idealism in the design of everyday objects and, from 1945 at least, a time of optimism about creating a different, more egalitarian future. I think we are all hungry for that kind of optimism and innovation right now. ‘Good Design’ at mid-century was an international phenomenon and in our exhibition at MoMA we wanted to show the commonality of approaches and thinking in different parts of the world, and the networks through which so many designers and manufacturers moved freely.

Read more: 10 Questions With… Lisa White

Prototype for Chaise Lounge (La Chaise) by Charles Eames and Ray Eames (1948), made of hard rubber foam, plastic, wood, and metal. Photography by Jonathan Muzikar, courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

ID: What’s the greatest challenge when curating an exhibition like this? 

JK: The exhibition includes objects of such different scales and media, which is also half the fun, from a Tupperware popsicle to printed textiles, a Fiat Cinquecento, and a film made by Charles and Ray Eames for the 1959 American National Exhibition held in Moscow. It’s about trying to arrange them in meaningful and visually coherent groups, bringing designed objects into friendly dialogue, or argument, with each other. It is also a challenge to put developments in the U.S. in a broad international context. We have included stunning and familiar design from Italy, Germany, Scandinavia, and the U.K. but also wanted to move beyond them to countries like Czechoslovakia, Mexico, Japan. It was interesting to see how good design was coopted into a framework of Cold War politics. One only has to think of the face-off in 1959 between Nixon and Kruschev in front of a fitted American kitchen on view in Moscow. It is a timely reminder about the power of design as an ideological weapon.

ID: How do you address inclusivity, especially when revisiting work from the 1930s through 1950s?

JK: There is no doubt that in those decades the design professions were far from inclusive in terms of gender and ethnicity, and that often credit was not always publicly given where it was due. We don’t want to whitewash the past, but through research into the collections and staging exhibitions that pose sometimes difficult questions about whose values we represent, we can often throw light upon objects and individuals from the past that reflect current concerns with inclusivity. To give a couple of examples, in the Organic Design competition of 1940 organized by MoMA, prize-winning designs by Ray Eames, Noémi Raymond and Clara Porset were all credited to their respective husbands. We have little representation of African American designers working at mid-century, but we now know a little more about Joel Robinson whose textiles were featured in magazines like Ebony and were highly lauded at the 1951 Good Design exhibitions held in MoMA and the Chicago Merchandise Mart. It is also true to say that the Good Design program was a lifeline for many women at mid-century who were perhaps working in relative isolation and found it difficult to make headway in larger corporate firms of the period.

Butterfly Stools by Sori Yanagi (1956) made of molded plywood and metal. Photography courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

ID: You’ve lived and worked in Europe and the U.S.—what most distinguishes the design appetite in these areas? 

JK: Each city, region, country has its own design culture and material feel, even if many of the actual products are actually the same in different parts of the world, and our high streets are increasingly homogenized by global corporations. New York has a different pace and energy from anywhere else I’ve lived, but I don’t feel design is given as much priority in government-led initiatives and agendas as in many other parts of Europe.

ID: What is your earliest memory of being impacted by design?

JK: As a young child, I remember being mesmerized by the version of Ray Eames’s Hang-It-All coatrack finished with colored plastic balls, and the colorful abstract patterns of curtains my mother had bought in the 1950s—I have patched and relined these over the years and still use them in my own home.

Mitsubishi Sewing Machine Silkscreen by Hiroshi Ohchi (c. 1950s). Image courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

ID: Back in 2012, you organized ‘Century of the Child: Growing by Design 1900-2000’ at MoMA; did any of your favorite childhood toys make it into the exhibition?  

JK: Like many children (and adults) the world over I played for hours with a Slinky. As we speak, I can remember the transfer of its weight from hand-to-hand, and the clinking whirring sound of the spring as it unfurled and sprang back. And the smell of the metal in tiny hot hands! I was delighted to feature this mainstay of MoMA’s Good Design exhibitions in both ‘Century of the Child’ and the current show.

ID: What’s your process when it comes to curating spaces, either for exhibitions or in your home? Where do you start?

JK: I love stuff—not only the way it looks and feels, but sounds, smells, perhaps even tastes … I find the things that ‘call out’ to me often reflect the issues or things I am thinking about in the present. Whether we are looking at design from the past, or future-oriented design, we are always filtering perceptions through the present. Curation is about exploring relationships between artworks. I like to think of it in terms of creating a new social life for things, introducing them to new friends, making up with one-time enemies, having a civilized conversation with strangers. And it’s about trying to pace the experience, creating contemplative as well as abrasive moments, and about mixing familiar favorites with less well-known pieces. Exhibiting everyday objects like an axe, a shrimp deveiner, a cookie cutter in the context of an art museum forces people to look twice at such things and to see them in a different light.

The 500f city car by Dante Giacosa (designed 1957; example pictured from 1968) made of steel with fabric top. Photography by Jonathan Muzikar, courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

ID: What most surprises you about the way people interact with exhibitions through social media?

JK: I think people are often using their phones as a means of looking in detail at design rather than recording and saving images for posterity. Taking and posting photos on social media has become an incredibly important way of consuming design without having to actually purchase it or possess it physically.

ID: What’s your ‘go to’ source of inspiration?

JK: Flea markets, old magazines, libraries and archives, artists’ studios, podcasts, street signs and sounds, factories … design is everywhere you care to look.

Low Chair by Charlotte Perriand (designed 1940), made of bamboo. Photography by Jonathan Muzikar, courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Read more: 10 Questions With… Caroline Till

Continue reading 10 Questions With… MoMA Curator Juliet Kinchin

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