Recurring geometries, combinations of figures. Marble and marmorino plaster: comparison and dialogue.
The collection’s repertoire of large slabs features motifs inspired by two separate sources: on the one hand the exquisite, always surprising vein texture of some specific metamorphic rocks, and on the other the sophisticated colours of Marmorino plaster. In spite of their different natures, these two materials are embedded in the culture of Italian architecture.
A rounded arch is then used to offer suggestions for combining the two decors in the same ceramic covering, which becomes a marvellous inlaid area for use alongside other, similar slabs to generate a rich web of figurative weaves and possible two-dimensional patterns, each with its own specific visual impact.
Annalisa Ross: "Milan interiors"
Cristina Celestino’s smartphone contains a folder of images entitled “Milan”. Photographs that are more like notes. Photographs of architectural features, materials or details of shapes encountered by chance during a walk, but they cannot be described as merely a vague “source of inspiration”. This filing system, created in response to a fleeting instinct, is an integral part of the method of work adopted by the architect and designer, who starts off without preconceptions – or “free”, as she puts it – before drawing inputs from a vast world of references, from Hermès scarves to the works of the great Masters (in the specific case of Policroma). This accumulation, partly spontaneous and party the outcome of in-depth historical knowledge and study, naturally activates a process of synthesis and personal interpretation common to all Cristina Celestino’s output.
The wall covering collection designed for Cedit was no exception, although in this case the designer was dealing with a project with variable dimensions, reaching up even to the architectural scale. In her own distinctive way, she combined a variety of references. Adolf Loos’s passion for coloured types of marble, and Cipollino in particular. Carlo Scarpa’s angular metal frames and Marmorino plaster in Venice. The French fashion house’s square silk scarves. The entrance halls of Milan palazzos, Gio Ponti, the city’s Cathedral. All expressed in the designer’s own language: well balanced geometrical forms, subtle colours (shades similar to those of Scarpa himself), an effortless, almost restrained, playful elegance. The mood is that of the homes of the enlightened bourgeoisie who shaped the history of Milan, Celestino’s adoptive city and an endless source of inputs. She has worked its interiors, including some of the least expected – a 1928 tram, the historic Cucchi confectionery store – hybridising her own style with the existing context. An imitative effect which is also the key to the meaning of the new Policroma collection: the marble varieties replicated using the Cedit technology are all from Italian quarries that are virtually “worked out”. This revives an increasingly rare material as a “living” presence, in a different form which makes no claim to replace the natural original. Quite the contrary, Celestino immediately states her intention to imitate, by combining marble and Marmorino plaster in some variants with a contrasting frame (a typical feature for her, just as it was for Scarpa), and evoking the centuries-old marble-imitating scagliola plasterwork with a contemporary formula.
The types of marble chosen are central to the project’s character. Verde Alpi, a favourite with Gio Ponti and often found in Milan entrance halls, features tightly packed patterning. Breccia Capraia, still found in a very few places in Tuscany, has a white background with just a few veins. Cipollino, in the special Ondulato variety in green and red, is patterned with spirals. Rosa Valtoce, on the other hand, was used by the “Veneranda Fabbrica” guild to build Milan Cathedral. It is an iconic stone with dramatic stripes, popular in the past; it is now sourced from one very small quarry in Piedmont which has been virtually abandoned.
The many different elements that make up the Policroma collection all reflect the importance of craftsmanship to Cristina Celestino’s design style: the modules can be freely mixed and combined, for example to create a concave or convex semicircle, or for the large-scale replication of small features initially conceived as trims, functional details transformed into a dominant motif. There is a return to the theme of the interior, a large or small protected space, conceived as suspended in space and time yet also reassuring and protective. It is designed through its coverings in a stark yet not minimalist way, with intelligence and with no overreaching artistic ambitions. An understated space and an extremely stylish declaration. In Milan style, of course.
After completing her university studies at the IUAV’s Faculty of Architecture in Venice, Cristina Celestino began her professional career by working for leading architecture firms, with a particular focus on interior architecture and design. In 2009 she moved to Milan, where she founded the Attico Design brand, under which she created original lamps and furnishings with distinctive materials and forms. In 2012 she was chosen to take part in SaloneSatellite; further to this important showcasing opportunity, Attico Design pieces went on display in a large number of international galleries and showrooms. At Design Miami 2016, she designed the The Happy Room collection for Fendi; the following year, for Sergio Rossi she created a fascinating interior design and a furniture collection for the concept for the brand’s new boutiques.