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Moscow Design Week 2011: Made in Italy (Curated by Giulio Cappellini)

Moscow Design Week 2011 - Made in Italy 10 What I definitely liked about this year’s Moscow Design Week is its higher class. Last year’s MDW was a first attempt, clearly done with a bit of scepticism towards its own necessity. The quality of English translation of booklets, the infrastructure of events, venues and displays – all was done for the purpose of actually doing it.

I wasn’t sceptical about MDW’s future, but I was wondering how they were going to improve. The improvement came by almost secretly, I’m sure some people didn’t even realise the Design Week was going to happen. It did happen though and amassed such a huge number of high caliber designers from Europe and America that we are already feeling hungry for more. This is exactly what a girl at the Central Artist’s House said in response to my question, whether or not she enjoyed the Week: “I would love to see more“.

Moscow Design Week 2011 - Made in Italy 13Moscow Design Week 2011 - Made in Italy 25

2011 being a cross-cultural year between Russia and Italy, it probably made sense to bring the leading Italian designers to Moscow and to dedicate one of the major exhibitions to all things “made in Italy”. This is also a curious reference to last year’s Design Week when visitors were invited to the Manezh Exhibition Centre to explore ‘the French art of living’. This year it was the same “art de vivre” – but Italian style.

Compared to the Italian, the French “art de vivre” looks almost too classical. Although the French played with matryoshkas and Eiffel towers in their own way, the Matrioska Superhero by Jacopo Foggini, or a classical chair painted in rainbow colours by Giulio Cappellini both breathe new life into familiar, if not dull, objects.

Being a Fabio Novembre Chair 1
Being a Fabio Novembre Chair

Needless to say, such irreverence to classical things inspires, provokes and prompts. It’s not been the first time ever that I saw and sat down into a Fabio Novembre chair. However, it’s been the first time I realised that the entire experience of sitting in this chair reeks on the plot of the famous film, Being John Malkovich. I called my ‘exploits’ with it rather simply: “Being a Fabio November Chair“.


Moscow Design Week 2011: Jacopo Foggini and the Unbearable Appeal of Matrioska

Although the father-founder of the Moscow Design Week, Alexander Fedotov, has said that the event organisers tried not to restrict “design” to Architecture and Interior Design only, but also to recognise the major role design plays in Fashion and Graphic Design, Matrioska Superhero by Jacopo Foggini brings together the Gothic architecture and one of the best-known and widely exploited Russian cultural objects – the Russian doll. Foggini admits that matrioska has long become a kitch symbol, which he has managed to amplify by painting Matrioska in rainbow colours. Bearing in mind that all things Gothic have acquired the same sort of ‘kitchy’ fame in Europe, the two (Russian doll and Gothic elements) complement each other perfectly. Made of acryllic metal and strongly reminding one of a “rose” window in Gothic cathedrals, Matrioska installation pays homage to the object that, according to Foggini, evokes strong femininity and is incredibly poetic.

At the Central Artist’s House, Matrioska Superhero by Jacopo Foggini was mounted on the wall and displayed in semi-darkness, the whole atmosphere once again implying the fusion of Gothic light and Orthodox dim corners. Next to it stood a different kind of installation: a group of rainbow-coloured undressed mannequins with huge (silicone?) lips. I wonder if there could be a better yet just as subtle juxtaposition of contemporary pop-culture and attempts at re-thinking the cultural heritage?

Хотя бы основатель Московской Недели Дизайна Александр Федотов и говорил, что организаторы старались не ограничивать понятие “дизайна” архитектурой и дизайном интерьеров, но отразить также ту крупную роль, которую дизайн играет в мире моды и графики, – тем не менее инсталляция Matrioska Superhero Джакопо Фоджини – это сочетание готической архитектуры и одного из самых известных и широко эксплуатируемых элементов русской культуры: матрешки. Фоджини признает, что матрешка уже давно стала китчевым символом; однако ему даже удалось усилить “матрешкин китч”, раскрасив русскую игрушку всеми цветами радуги. Впрочем, памятуя о том, что и все “готическое” давно приобрело похожую славу в Европе, эти две – матрешка и готика – вполне друг друга дополняют. Выполненная из метакрилата и представляющая “розу” окна в готическом соборе, Matrioska Superhero – это дань уважения русской игрушке, невероятно поэтичной и являющейся, по словам Фоджини, ярким олицетворением женственности.

В Центральном Доме Художника Matrioska Superhero была водружена на стену в полуосвещенном зале. Вся атмосфера вновь напомнила о симбиозе светлого пространства готического собора и полутемных уголков православного храма. Рядом же с нею экспонировалась иная инсталляция: группа “радужных”, неодетых манекенов с огромными (с намеком на силиконовые?) губами. Любопытно: можно ли было придумать лучшее и столь же тонкое сравнение современной поп-культуры и попыток переосмыслить культурное наследие?

Moscow Design Week 2011: Ingo Maurer’s Ablaze and the Holistic Nature of Fire

Ingo Maurer’s project for the 2nd Moscow Design Week (11-16 October 2011) explores the notions of light and fire as applied to the living space. Called ‘the Poet of Light’ by Gilda Boiardi, Maurer presents the house that has just burnt down but is about to come to life again. In both processes fire plays the pivotal role, as the element that destroys and that rebuilds – both times from the inside. In Maurer’s own words, Moscow is like the Wild East, full of incredible tension and provocations. For a designer, keen on exploring the objects and (re)discovering them, Moscow is an ideal place to find inspiration.

Инсталляция Инго Маурера для второй Московской Недели Дизайна (11-16 октября 2011) исследует понятия огня и света применительно к жилому пространству. “Певец света” по выражению Джильды Бойарди, Маурер представляет нашему вниманию дом, который только что сгорел; однако тлеющий внутри огонь возрождает дом к жизни. В обоих этих процессах – горение и восстановление – огонь играет центральную роль как стихия, которая и разрушает, и восстанавливает, и оба раза – изнутри.

По словам самого Маурера, Москва – это “дикий Восток”, полный невероятного напряжения и провокаций. Для дизайнера, любящего исследовать объекты и (заново) раскрывать их, Москва – идеальный источник вдохновения.

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