The Story of Us and Them is the name of the series of paintings made by the New York-based Irish artist Conor Harrington. The paintings are set against the backdrop of an imaginary nation-state, where the artist explores the concept of patriotism in which:
“walls are being built, borders are closing and countries are moving towards isolation, a post-globalization society is emerging”.
Classic historical portraits of soldiers and generals are rendered in shades of red and blue, exacerbating the contrast between “us and them”, all this is emphasized by his technique that includes the use of fire extinguishers, brushes, spatulas, hand-painted and more to build an impact image. His style blends a great realism played down by abstract elements, which generate dynamism and draw a subtle line between the classic and the contemporary.
If you want to know more, take a look at the video below and the artist’s Instagram.
We’ve already talked to you about Alcova, the leading platform in innovative designthat recorded a very high number of visitors during Milan Design Week. Their focus on emerging talents and, more broadly, on collectible design is amplified with the launch of an online shop on their website. This is a platform entirely dedicated to collectible design, offering a selection of works created by established and emerging designers. In addition to the e-commerce aspect, Alcova is opening a Project Space in Milan, set to become the reference point for the online shop through physical exhibitions. Let’s discover more about the most interesting design pieces on the platform, from the more affordable ones to the more expensive ones.
While browsing the platform, it’s easy to come across the works of designers we’ve already had the chance to see at Ex Macello, such as Laurids Gallée and Stefania Ruggiero, but also designers we’ve previously discussed, such as Côme Clérino. What is surprising – in addition to the refinement and careful craftsmanship of the objects – is the prices. Starting from less than a hundred euros and going up to higher prices, you can purchase a unique item while supporting both emerging and non-emerging design, which is increasingly oriented towards the future. In this way, Alcova reinforces its commitment to sustainability and, at the same time, its position within the international market, with plans to expand to Miami in December 2023.
Increasingly, art in all its forms is coming into contact with historical and sacred places such as former churches, former convents or archaeological sites. The dialogue between contemporary and ancient, as well as the contrast between secular and religious, are increasingly proving their scenic and communicative power. Curators and gallery owners are looking for evocative and magical places with the intention of developing new languages but not only. In this sense, the factor of redevelopment of the historical and cultural heritage comes into play. Art is in the first place in proposing new uses of these often closed and unused places. We have already talked in the past about the exhibition at the deconsecrated church in Corvetto during Milan Design Week, while today we want to tell you about a new contemporary design exhibition in the historic Church of Sant’Ambrogio della Vittoria in Parabiago (Milan) organized by FORO Studio and BeAlpha. Let’s find out more about the project and the emerging designers involved.
Antìtesi: the title and the location
The exhibition is titled Antìtesi and will run from Sept. 30 to Oct. 8, 2023, presenting the public with a selection of design works inspired by the rhetorical figure of antithesis. In this sense, designers are invited to reason about the contrast between two opposing entities, aiming to stimulate a strong emotional impact. The location is a fundamental part of the experience. The Church of Sant’Ambrogio della Vittoria is a place steeped in history and legends. Its construction was inspired by Luchino Visconti’s legendary victory over the rebellion led by Lodrisio, thanks to the divine intervention of St. Ambrose. This sacred place was declared a national monument in 1913 and has recently begun a process of restoration and reuse thanks to the association “La Fabbrica di Sant’Ambrogio.”
The exhibited designers
Within this historical context with a religious aura, the Antithesis exhibition presents a selection of contemporary design curated by FORO Studio. This shortlist includes a variety of designers, artists and makers from around the world, each with their own interpretation of antithesis in design. Participants include names such as AGA/Sign, Alice Crepaldi (whom we have already told you about here), Andreas Palfinger, Jonathan Bocca (you can also read about him here), and many others, each of whom has contributed unique and ambiguous projects that stimulate deep reflections.
FORO Studio said, “Confrontation with the powerful rhetorical figure of antithesis has led us to learn about the multiple approaches of the participants who have unveiled projects that are intentionally ambiguous and thus capable of stimulating deep reflection. The art of design will be our contradictory voice, teaching us to understand and appreciate the harmonious dualism between opposing concepts, where contrast and harmony live on through the creative act.”
How to buy the exhibition’s objects
Another fascinating aspect of the exhibition is the partnership with Nonahora, an online curated-shop offering a selection of unique and sought-after items. Visitors will have the opportunity to purchase items in the exhibition directlyfrom nonahora.com, guaranteeing the quality and authenticity of each piece.
Naturalis Historia is the title of this year’s Lake Como Design Festival, now in its fifth edition. Opening last weekend and concluding on Sunday, September 24, this year’s Festival again offers a rich program of exhibitions and events, but we have selected four not to be missed. For those who are not familiar with it, the Lake Como Design Festival is an initiative of Wonderlake Como that every year aims to organize exhibitions and moments of reflection within historical places of the city, with the goal of promoting and sharing the artistic and cultural heritage of the city through what is the most democratic language of all, design. In fact, we are not only talking about design but also about art. In fact, the exhibitions we will be proposing swing on the thin line that divides, and sometimes unites, design from art.
This year’s subject
As we anticipated, this year’s subject is Naturalis Historia. Rereading these two Latin words, they do not sound so new. They are in fact the work of Pliny the Elder, after whom, by the way, the square overlooked by the Palazzo del Broletto, our first stop, is named. The Lake Como Design Festival chooses to pay homage to and be inspired by the writer and naturalist who was born in Como precisely two thousand years ago. The Festival’s title refers to the first encyclopedia ever written that encompasses under the same container a veritable cataloging of the animal, human and botanical worlds, through medicine, mineralogy, metalworking and art history. What is surprising about Naturalis Historia is the incredible contemporaneity of the writings, with their lively and curious writing. Thus, stage by stage, this ancient writing accompanies visitors to discover works of art and design objects conceived from careful research into the natural world.
#1 Palazzo del Broletto, The Other Animals
We start from the cathedral square, going up to the beautiful hall of Palazzo del Broletto. On the upper floor is The Other Animals exhibition, which among all is the one that best renders the concept inherent in the Plinian encyclopedia. In particular, the exhibition focuses on the volumes devoted to Zoology. Curators Lorenzo Butti and Massimiliano Mondelli have selected sixty descriptions of animals, and for each of them they have chosen a work or design object to place in dialogue. Extremely contemporary creations find themselves communicating with such ancient writing that, paradoxically, appears very current. One example is the dialogue between Andreas Kowalewski‘s work Olifant with Pliny the Elder’s description in which we read, “The greatest among animals is the elephant, and it is also the closest to man’s sensibility: it understands the language of the place where it was born and obeys commands; it is capable of remembering exercises; it feels desire for love and glory.” The variety of the selection is astounding, especially when one notices that alongside a piece by Ettore Sottsass one can find works by young and emerging artists such as Lucrezia Costa and Ilaria Cuccagna, who, by the way, have recently finished an exhibition at the nearby Ramo Gallery.
#2 San Pietro in Atrio, Stories of Fabrics
The second stop is San Pietro in Atrio, which is a few hundred meters from the Palazzo del Broletto. Inside this magnificent location, which is open to the public on the occasion of the Festival, there is a selection of national and international designers working in textiles with a strong experimental bent. The exhibition, titled Stories of Fabrics, sees an evocative layout with special care devoted to lighting. Among the various designers, what strikes us is the installation by the duo Milla Novo, whose bright colors create a strong contrast with the darkness of the environment.
Moving toward the lakefront we arrive at Villa Salazar, an 18th-century villa open to the public for the first time. Inside the magnificent rooms is housed the Contemporary Design Selection exhibition, curated by Giovanna Massoni in collaboration with Catawiki. The exhibition encompasses the work of thirty-five designers from different parts of the world, ranging from industrial design to site-specific installations and craftsmanship.
#4 Villa Olmo, Back to Nature
Our journey concludes at Villa Olmo with the Back to Nature exhibition. The event brings together designers, artists, publishers and galleries of modern and contemporary design. Various special projects take place in the different rooms of the villa, known as one of the main symbols of Como and one of the most famous historical residences in the area.
As soon as one crosses the entrance of Villa Olmo, one is confronted with Kris Rhus’s evocative floral installation The Second Song – Falling to Earth that leaves one breathless. Continuing through the various rooms of the villa we find, among others, the ETEL presentation by Brazilian architect and designer Oscar Niemeyer, the Ken Scott Archive’s exploration of the famous designer’s passion for botany through photographs and archival materials, and Grieder Contemporary gallery’s Mumo Forest exhibition featuring glass sculptures by Austrian artist Melli Ink. In the music room, the last one following the exhibition route, Movimento Club returns, which never fails in terms of staging and experimentation. With an exploration of unconventional perspectives on beauty and nature, The blue flower exhibition aims to be a rarity, like a blue flower – symbol of Romantic literature – emerging with wonder from the classic green landscape.
Don’t miss the Lake Como Design Festival 2023 and other stops: – Former Ursuline Convent San Carlo, Between Art and Nature – White House, FENIX with the installation When Nature Blooms – Ramo Gallery, De Curiositas Find out all the others and more info at the dedicated website
Have you noticed that everyone seems to be going crazy about rugs lately? Until a few years ago, the minimalist aesthetic had almost managed to ‘get rid of them’, yet in recent years they seem to have come back stronger than ever. The colourful and eccentrically shaped carpet, often circular and soft, is definitely a must-have for the home. Already a few months ago, we told you about the surrealist and liquid rugs of the South Korean brand SAY TOUCHÉ, which stand out for their drippy and hypnotic shapes. In particular, however, it is the spread of the tufting technique – and the birth of various amateur courses on the subject – that is fuelling this trend.
This trend also emerges from Paris Design Week, currently running until 16 September. Doing some research and keeping an eye on the Maison&Object Paris fair in particular, we found a few perfect and very interesting examples to illustrate what we are talking about. The first is the Milanese brand Mohebban, which has dedicated its research to carpets for years and this year presented them at PDW in a super contemporary key. The booth in fact hosts a series of rugs made by designers and artists hung on the walls as if they were real works of art. In fact, this new trend very often sees rugs used as tapestries and not as pieces of furniture to be placed on the floor. Guests at the Mohebban booth are designers Ilaria Franza, Miguel Ruguero, Elena Caponi and Studio Zero, founded by Anna Seminara and Maria Francesca Cicirelli. What they have in common is an elegant design, characterised by warm colours in the palette of beiges and greens, as well as refined execution. We are particularly struck by the one created by Ilaria Franza, which at first glance seems to recall an organic, vegetal form.
The second booth that struck us was the one by Doing Goods, which was decidedly more colourful and bold. The barbie-pink walls of the booth house a series of animal-shaped rugs. They themselves call their accessories ‘imperfect and fun’, like this carpet installation that seems to enclose all the animals of Noah’s ark.