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Lighting design

Ferruccio Laviani creates a daydreaming space in Foscarini’s showroom for MDW2023

Imagine yourself sprawled on a comfy, unpretentious sofa, gazing upwards at a beautiful ceramic bas-relief, surrounded by grass, herbs and reeds. With the (Im)possible Nature installation, Foscarini gives a contemplative twist to its Milan Design Week

Attracting people to a showroom using grandiose tricks is not that complicated. But retaining their attention, and focussing it on something that requires time to be discovered and experienced, is a whole different cup of tea.

Especially if the showroom is in the Milan Lighting District – corso Monforte – and if the scene is set during the Fuorisalone, the Milan Design Week 2023.

Creating the scenario for a story

Reaching a meaningful balance between a powerful, colorful voice and the subtle fascination of a whisper is an art that Ferruccio Laviani masters extremely well. And that is precisely the reason why his installation designed for Foscarini for the Fuorisalone 2023 will be so interesting to see.

Entitled (Im)Possible Natures, it will feature grass, herbs and uncultivated plants occupying the outdoor spaces of the Foscarini showroom in Corso Monforte: climbing out of windows, balconies and any available space. 

A detail of the nature-driven installation by Ferruccio Laviani at the Foscarini showroom in Corso Monforte, Milan

They are meant to be the “call out”, the cover of the novel that will allure the reader into starting the story.

The story, indeed, starts inside, where a wild landscape will be sheltering a sofa: to such an extent that it will be difficult to find. But once you get to it…

A detail of the Fregio lamp, the centerpiece at the Foscarini showroom, design Andrea Anastasio. Ph. Massimo Gardone

It will be like your aunty’s couch, with a flowery pattern, definitely not a signature piece but the sort of couch that makes you feel instantly at ease”, says Laviani.

All around this un-named and un-branded comfy presence there will be flowers, reeds, leaves so that “when you sit on it, you will feel sheltered by nature”, continues Laviani. “Then, as you lie in relaxation, smelling the buds and feeling the freshness, you will look up and see a ceramic bas-relief emitting a light: the Fregio lamp by Andrea Anastasio. Which is the core of the story and where the showroom concept development began”.

Impossibile Nature by Ferruccio Laviani x Foscarini _ Milan Design Week 2023
The making of Fregio, by Andrea Anastasio. Ph. Gianluca Vassallo

Go on, daydream…

Indeed Ferruccio Laviani was given one main challenge by Foscarini. The showroom was to be, as usual, the city outpost for the Foscarini presence, displaying the new collections that the Venice brand will also bring to Euroluce (in a stand also designed by Laviani): the glass lamp Hoba by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba, the suspension Pli by Felicia Arvid, two families of table lamps by Rodolfo Dordoni (called Chapeaux and Fleur), and a scultural ceiling and wall lamp by Gabriele and Oscar Buratti named Anoor. Plus of course also Fregio by Andrea Anastasio.

Yet while all other pieces find a place in the basement, the whole ground floor set up of the Corso Monforte showroom was to be designed around one lamp the ceramic, enameled bas-relief with embedded LEDs designed by Andrea Anastasio: Fregio.

Impossibile Nature by Ferruccio Laviani x Foscarini _ Milan Design Week 2023
The Fregio lamp brings ceramics into lighting while also reviving the ancient art of bas-relief. Ph Gianluca Vassallo

It’s a contemplative piece, almost an artwork”, says Laviani. “The sort of object that requires concentration and time to be figured out. At the Design Week people normally have neither.

So all my efforts were put into using exuberancy to invite people in with (because everyone is after excitement and instagrammable situations) but also finding a way to convince them to stop and gaze at the Fregio lamp in contemplation once they are inside.

The feeling that people should have when they will be lying on the sofa and looking up, should be reminiscent of being in a field and looking at the sun in the sky. It’s a silent call to say: go on, daydream…

A detail of the making of the Fregio Lamp by Andrea Anastasio: the idea of a ceramic lamp came to life after a research project with Bottega Gatti. Ph Gianluca Vassallo

From a lamp to a spatial concept

Ferruccio Laviani developed the showroom concept by focussing on the Fregio lamp. He studied it, observed it like an “outsider”.

I wanted to figure out what the core of its fascination was and I soon realized that it was dual.

On one hand it had to do with the subject reproduced on the lamp: Fregio is all about flowers, natural elements often disregarded in design, considered too retro to be interesting. And, on the other, this lamp makes people curious because it is made of ceramics, an unusual material in lighting.

Impossibile Nature by Ferruccio Laviani x Foscarini _ Milan Design Week 2023
The skills required to make Fregio are artistic ones: yet this version of the lamp has been adapted to be made in “series”. Ph Gianluca Vassallo

So I created a space in which nature overwhelms humans and where humans are given the possibility to daydream while observing the detailed quality of the ceramic, enameled decorations”.

The Fregio lamp by Andrea Anastasio

Indeed, Fregio is a section of a floral bas-relief, presented as a suspension and wall lamp.

It’s made of two ceramic sections anchored to the central metallic profile that hosts the LEDs strips: the support is thus a structural but also an ornamental element.

These profiles keep the two different elements that make up the lamp (the ceramics and the LEDs) purposefully separate from each other, also visually. Metaphorically, they thus underline how two types of expertise merge in this object: the artistic, crafts-like skills on one hand, and the high tech industrial knowhow.  

The collection is the evolution of a research project called Battiti carried out by Andrea Anastasio and supported by Foscarini last year. Within that framework, Anastasio created lighting objects by disassembling and re-assembling ceramics from the prestigious Bottega Gatti archive and inserting LED strips. Fregio is the first production lamp coming from that experiment, presented in 2022.

Fregio is not just a beautiful lamp”, says Ferruccio Laviani. “But also one that makes you think (especially if you are a lighting designer or an architect): about the role that decoration has or could have today, about the expressivity of unexpected materials such as ceramics, about the role of light in today’s interiors”.

Impossibile Nature by Ferruccio Laviani x Foscarini _ Milan Design Week 2023
A Detail of the flowery decor of Fregio. Ph Massimo Gardone

Indeed, in Andrea Anastasio’s words, Fregio was born by “sabotaging an original image and re-building it”. Fregio is a production piece but has the allure of an artistic object, one of those that you could be talking about for hours and that requires time, attention and imagination to be captured thoroughly.

I had been looking for ways to revamp the bas-relief tradition that used to ornate homes and palaces but abruptly disappeared with Modernity”, explains Anastasio. “Rediscovering things from the past always brings along the risk of nostalgia, which I needed to avoid at all costs. So I looked for contemporary languages and methods. I wanted to tap into the fragmentation that characterizes our everyday experiences (on and offline) and distracts us from everything. I started working with fragments of ceramics which I would then re-compose, mimicking the cut-and-paste approach that we all use in the digital age”.

There is a lot more than meets the eye in this lamp”, concludes Laviani. “It deserved a contemplative place where people could observe it and feel it, freely. Like it happens with art pieces in museums or exhibitions. It doesn’t often occur with a design piece, but when it does, it’s worth creating the right set for it”.

Visit:
Foscarini Spazio Monforte
Corso Monforte 19,
18-23 April H 10-20

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