Forza Tappeti: the Rug Revolution, La Pelota, Via Palermo, 10, Milan, Italy. La Pelota is the venue for designjunction’s curated exhibition and Forza Tappeti is located at the entrance. Please visit and say hello!
Modernist architect, designer, artist, and publisher Giò Ponti described his typology of the “ancient Italian-style home” as domus, a habitat where outside/inside boundaries were mutable or immaterial and surface treatments were considered. To celebrate their compatriot and personaggi famosi di milanese and his love of surfaces, Milan-based CC-Tapis have designed the “Avant Garde” rug collection which includes Hello Giò, Diamond and Lost in the Fifties. (cont)
Ponti’s love of surface treatments is exemplified in Hotel Parco dei Principi. The field of blue and white surfaces inside and out echo what Ponti saw on arrival; blue heat, blue sky, blue sea, and the “blue volcano” Vesuvius. He declared the 100 guest rooms would each have a different floor pattern. Public areas are similarly tiled and augmented with walls of tactile ceramicised pebbles and various sized quadrilateral ceramic “plates” by his friend Fausto Melotti. The tiled repetitions in Hello Giò (above) are a distinctive but familiar homage to Ponti’s Principi legacy.
Ponti’s theory of “finite form” influenced all his work and was signified by his continuous employment of the diamond or lozenge shape, similar to CC-Tapis’ Diamond rug below. (cont)
On the fiftieth anniversary of Hotel Parco de Principi in 2012, Domus magazine (founded by Ponti) declared Hotel Principi captures “un momento glorioso del design italiano degli anni ’50.” It does. And so too CC-Tapis’ designs in honour of Ponti remind us that Italian design has been “glorioso” for millenia. Long may it continue. DJ
Vitruvius disliked unreality. The ancient Roman architect, engineer and town planner promoted firmitas, utilitas, venustas – solid, useful, beautiful architecture. And the decorative arts, he argued, must follow realism. In his seventh book Vitruvius rails against the stage designs of Apaturius which displayed what Vitruvius saw as illogical architecture. Fantasy was forbidden. No vine tendrils acting as columns to hold up a roof. Be real or begone, Vitruvius might have said. Instead what he actually wrote was “such things do not exist, and cannot exist and never will exist”. (cont)
But Vitruvius might make an exception for the now famous trompe l’oeil 3D representation floor from “House of the Faun” at Pompeii. Or he would if he’d known about the fluid mechanics of volcanic activity. Although the House of the Faun mosaic floor is a flat surface with three-dimensional aspirations, the geometric blocks have geologic precedents.
The coastline field of upright basalt columns known as the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland was formed some sixty million years ago when volcanic activity forced molten rock upwards through chalk bed fissures. The lava cooled at varying rates to form a field of polygonal basalt pillars (mainly hexagonal plus five and four sided). Knowing this, Vitruvius might agree the House of the Faun floor is a rendition of reality for the “giants” who roamed the causeway and “saw” the same view beneath their fictional feet that pre-AD 79 Pomeiians enjoyed when they walked through the House of the Faun.
Fancy your own Pompeiian floor or Giant’s Causeway? CC-Tapis in Milan designed Infini Stucco, a beautiful and elegant hand woven rug and contemporary echo of the House of the Faun mosaic. (cont)
If you are in Milan next week for the Salone Internazionale del Mobile please visit the COVER stand at the entrance to La Pelota where CC-Tapis are one of our guest exhibitors. But if you want to see Infini Stucco then take a ten minute walk to the CC-Tapis showroom on via San Simpliciano n. 6. where you will discover they follow the ancient Roman credo remis velisque – “giving one’s best”. DJ
Woven in linen and cotton Red Meander was designed by Anni Albers, famed alumnus of the Bauhaus in Germany and founding faculty member at the legendary Black Mountain College in North Carolina. It was she who can be credited with developing and disseminating a revolution in 20th century contemporary textile design and production. But is Meander truly a meander or is it more mythical maze? (Cont)
The word meander calls to mind a loose, loopy gambol not a rectilinear purposeful path. Albers’ pattern recalls labyrinth floors like St Quentin, Chartres Cathedral or the infamous labyrinthos of Greek mythology.
Daedelus designed the labyrinth to cage King Minos’ stealth weapon – the “man-bull” Minotaur. At war with mainland Athens, the island King prevailed and demanded “tributes” of Athenian youth every nine years to feed the Minotaur. Enough was enough. Athens sent Theseus to Crete. He got lucky. It was un coup de foudre when the King’s daughter saw him. Betraying dad, she gave Theseus the secret directions to the heart of the labyrinth. “Forwards, down and never left or right”, and she gave him a ball of yarn to unroll as back-up “map”. Theseus killed the man-bull. Fair fight? No. Theseus had a sword. Poor Minotaur. Trapped his whole life in a maze, no friends, and infrequent feedings. Cruel. (Cont)
Whatever Albers’ influence for Meander, it seems she may have inspired Keith Haring, or is it only your scribe who sees similarities between Meander and Haring’s hip hop graffiti?
Original Anni Albers rugs and textiles are found in private collections, museums and The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. Several exemplary contemporary dealers are authorised by the Foundation to sell renditions of Meander. Alan Cristea Gallery sells screenprints, and Christopher Farr sells the rug. Find Farr in London or better still, stop by COVER’s Forza Tappeti: The Rug Revolution exhibition at Edit during Milan Design Week next month to see Meander and more. DJ
The cow as villain is probably urban myth, but Chicago’s reputation as a lodestone for architectural excellence began after the conflagration in 1871 when a bovine was blamed for bowling over a lantern and setting the city ablaze. Bold buildings soon followed and the Second City became and remains an influential centre for architecture; renowned as the city that built the first steel-frame skyscraper. The bull market that fueled the boom was the catalyst for a memorable saying coined by Chicago realtors in 1926 to underscore the value of a property’s locale. “Location, location, location.”
Location, location, location is still applicable to real estate. And the phrase becomes meaningful for COVER magazine during Milan Design Week 2013. We’ve bagsied a prime location for Forza Tappeti: The Rug Revolution. COVER’s exhibition pavilion is part of designjunction’s Edit show at the prestigious (and massive) La Pelota venue. Our Forza pavilion will be located in the courtyard entrance to La Pelota. Fair organisers estimate up to 10,000 daily visitors will encounter the Forza pavilion as they enter and exit Edit. However visitors find us, by intent, chance or with COVER’s version of a vaudeville hook, your scribe believes visitors will be captivated by our exhibitors and their handmade rugs.
But while location is key, it only becomes the winning trifecta when linked to superb content contained within sublime space. Acclaimed designer Michael Sodeau has designed our Forza pavilion. His innovative accordion-shaped frame emphasises the iconic shape’s architectural virtues – structurally sound, flexible, dynamic, and expressive – to create a sheltered stand with infinite spatial solutions and significant volume. All of which combine to make the Forza Tapetti pavilion unmissable. DJ
The Alf Onnie curtain shop in East Ham, London, was on its uppers. Established in 1920, the family owned curtain company was one net curtain away from financial disaster. But then along came Alex Polizzi. Star of BBC television reality show The Fixer, Polizzi uses her business nous to rescue a company in each episode (filmed over four months). Daughter of hotelier Olga Polizzi, niece of Rocco Forte, granddaughter of Lord Forte, Polizzi is – in an unconventional but illustrative use of the legal phrase – a force majeure. Ignore her at your peril.
The three brothers who run Alf Onnie were in a pickle. The store was crammed with unrelated merchandise, the accounts were shipwrecked and the brothers were at odds. Most of Polizzi’s advice made sense, and without her expertise the shop was doomed. But on the subject of craft and skilled hand work your scribe sides with brother Jeremy. In 2008 Robert Hanks reviewed Richard Sennett’s book The Craftsman. Hanks told a story about his decorator Peter. Hanks feels guilty because he can’t pay Peter enough to account for “his meticulousness and dedication”. One day Hanks finds Peter re-doing an area because irregularities had appeared. Hanks jokes about obsessive-compulsive disorder. “Peter responded with an agonised, reproachful look. ‘It’s not me’, he said. ‘It’s how it has to be.'”
“How it has to be” is at the heart of superlative craft. It is the bulwark against bodging. And it is at the heart of the rug companies who will exhibit superlative handmade rugs at COVER magazine’s Forza Tappeti: The Rug Revolution exhibition at Edit during Milan Design Week 2013.
Polizzi takes the brothers to five star Brown’s Hotel. They visit a guest room. Youngest brother Jeremy – “I am a perfectionist” – examines the room’s curtains. He doesn’t like what he finds. Polizzi calls him a “curtain nerd” and tells viewers he’s “all het up about some very minor details”. But the devil is in the details, and Jeremy has observed the curtains are unweighted at the hemline, a professional taboo. His hangdog expression says it all as he tells Polizzi, “I’ve never ever made a pair of made-to-measure curtains where I haven’t put weights in . . . I think that would be almost like cheapening myself.” Polizzi is unrelenting. But Jeremy is right. He is a consummate craftsman. He knows how it has to be. And for that your scribe salutes him. Here’s to the next ninety years of Alf Onnie, and “how it has to be”. DJ