The faded wall fresco, damp stains in plaster.
Designed to cover indoor – and in some cases outdoor – surfaces, the large sheets that make up the “Storie” collection are ceramic fields where the skilful and organised mixture of pigments are manifested in astonishing colour shading effects with a visual expressiveness inspired by the slow and fascinating fading over time of plasters and masonry decorations in traditional Italian architecture. In the soft liquidity of their colours, these porcelain stoneware sheets redefine the figure of an elegant modernity in the ceramics area.
CRITICAL TEXT BY CHIARA ALESSI:”STORIES. INSTANTS, MEMORIES, VISIONS.”
Children stare at the walls of a farmhouse, wondering what the cracks are, and whether every mark is a path and every path is a story. They think that miniature beings live in the air pockets that have formed, and the detaching plaster is like an avalanche cascading from a glacier. They don’t ask why the colours are as they are, because they just had to be like that. And every square centimetre becomes the first page of an adventure that restarts at every break in the pattern. Could this be why we say that both textures and plots have twists, and stories are woven? As even children know, walls are tales. Not only do they contain adventures, emotions, moments, loves and hates and record them on their surfaces; their uneven, active surfaces generate new imaginary worlds, in which one can literally get lost. The “Storie” collection by Giorgia Zanellato and Daniele Bortotto brings this metaphor to three-dimensional life by expressing the moods, loves and hates and moments that the walls and floors of old Italian homes conserve, and capturing them in a frozen instant. The theme of time and the changes wrought in matter by the passing seasons, weather and human action have always been a strong source of inspiration for architects: some have tried to freeze it, while others have used sleight of hand to embrace it while resisting its effects, and yet others have accelerated, anticipated, directed and re-created it.
Zanellato and Bortotto do all these things at once, engaging in a duel with History with a capital H, in which it is never clear who is winning: design or object, man or nature, culture or time. And it is probably this unresolved tension which makes the “Storie” designs so universal and meaningful, so intimate and yet familiar. The floor is the only thing we can be certain that everyone entering our home will touch, and at the same time it is the most intimate part, the most steeped in private happenings. They talk about having your “feet firmly on the ground”. This image stands for common sense, but also a recognition of how things are, how things work. The wall is a synecdoche, too: it is the part of the home that expresses an idea of solidity, the layering of time, the passage of lives. “Storie” gives form to this metaphor by drawing a line that links the most classical of taste to a sophisticated modernity of taste and style. The two designers did a great deal of background work for this project: old Italian homes, country villas, noble palazzos, farmhouses and old factors, which become an unlimited source of motifs, colours, textures and materials. But, perhaps unconsciously, literature also re-emerges from this survey of locations, with its blend of aestheticism and decadence, with echoes of Wilde and D’Annunzio, Ruskin and Huysmans. “Storie” would be the ideal backdrop for Des Esseintes, the dandy in “A Rebours”. And in fact the collection clearly has strong theatrical connections, arising partly from its storytelling connotations but also from its scene-setting potential.
It represents life, which we are, have been and wish to continue to be. And it is thrilling to realise that this vision comes from the youngest designers in CEDIT’s new era, who have successfully taken a confident, cultured, astute, sidelong approach to the most ancient of topics, with a persuasive effect which appears, at least, to be not at all intimidated by the many stories, the type of product they are dealing with, the catalogue in which they are included, the designers who have gone before them or, naturally, the adventures that lie concealed in the historic dwellings they reproduce. The reference to Italy, on the other hand, is in perfect harmony with the work of the brand and its past and present designers: it is intrinsic to the perfection of the production process that underlies the collection, the relationship with the brand’s tradition and its local roots, and the intelligent, strategic use of its innovations in the treatment of this complex material. Child’s play? Yes, but with the integrity and ability to enchant unique to specific designs, capable of an immediacy of vision and feeling that makes them little novels written in cement.
Giorgia Zanellato (Venice, 1987) and Daniele Bortotto (Pordenone, 1988), designers, both studied Industrial Design at the IUAV in Venice and went on to take a Master’s Degree in Product Design at the ECAL in Lausanne (Switzerland). Giorgia Zanellato then joined the team at Fabrica - Benetton Research Centre (Treviso), while Daniele Bortotto started to work for the Swiss designer Adrien Rovero. After thus completing their training, the two designers came together on their first joint collection, the Acqua Alta series, dedicated to the city of Venice and presented at the Milan Salone Satellite in 2013. The following year they designed the Serenissima collection for Moroso, an industrial design project in which Venice’s colours and structural features become the inspiration for furniture, fabrics and ornaments.