MiDA-lab artwork creates a dialogue between different sensory perceptions
“A deliberate effort to bring out the life and energy present in everything” – Interview with Michela D’Angelo, founder of MiDA-lab
Inspired by everything that surrounds us and lived experiences, MiDA-lab provocatively challenges the anthropocentric view by presenting pieces with its own identity, soul, and character.
Founded by Michela D’Angelo, MiDA-lab is the culmination of years of experience working with a variety of materials: experimenting, exploring, and learning along the way, to ultimately develop a conscious, vibrant, and powerful style.
With a vast collection of pieces, Michela’s work makes use of clay, glass, and rattan, in an unexpected yet astonishing way, where the combination of the materials and techniques used make every piece unique.
By “bringing out the life and energy present in everything”, MiDA-lab will be during Milan Design Week 2023, at the Tools and Craft exhibition (Fondazione Catella, via Gaetano de Castillia, 28), where visitors will be able to see completed pieces as well as meeting the artist in person while making a work-in-progress performance working with rattan.
DesignWanted had the opportunity of an exclusive interview with Michela, who shared her experience as an artist, her creative process and her advice to young graduates, as well as her future vision to become part of a gallery while always staying true to herself, her work and her passion for art.
Who is Michela D’Angelo? How did the journey for MiDA-lab begin?
“As for me, I am a human being that has lived in three different countries and got influenced, or maybe contaminated, by the places and the people I met. My inspiration comes from a lot of things, it comes from everything I see, people, places, and also experiences that I have lived throughout my life. Hence, MiDA-lab began when I realized that my work is shaped by the place, and the people.
I studied product design, which honed my skills in handcraft while working with a variety of materials along the way.
What ultimately led me to this career path was my desire to find a fun and playful way to bring my imagination to life, much like the games I used to play as a child with my father: at the age of 5 I built a fake cardboard film camera, a dubious stroller, and lots of other things, relying solely on my creativity.”
Why MiDA-lab, why focusing on the creation of pieces made with different materials such as clay, glass, and rattan?
“The name “MiDA-lab” is a shortened version of my name. I added “lab” to the end because my laboratory plays a significant role in my work. My research focuses on the interaction of different materials such as ceramics, glass, rattan, silicone and electrical components with the aim of creating a dialogue between different sensory perceptions.
Clay is the main material I use, as it is one of the most malleable substances on the planet. I usually create tentacular shapes by connecting modular fragments that have been pushed through an extruder. Secondly, I make use of rattan because it is a living and sinuous plant-material that allows the generation of alternative surfaces, almost like a skin. Thirdly, there is glass, a noble and ancient material, representing transparency in forms. Lastly, the electrical components I utilize determine the functionality of the products in a logic of sustainability.
The use of clay, glass, rattan and electrical components arise from intense experiences with local craftsmen from Spain, France, Lebanon, and The Netherlands respectively.”
What is a day like in MiDA-Lab studio? Can you describe the general process of your creations?
“The beauty of working in a laboratory is that there is not one typical day. Although, after two years, my routine is starting to take shape, still, anything can happen. Experimentation, research, presentations, and execution flow in an organic and unpredictable manner.
During my work, I listen to my emotions and respond to what is happening around me. The most delightful aspect of unpredictability often arises in those rare moments when my mind suddenly clicks and the mundane tasks – such as paperwork, applications, accounting, and organizing materials – magically fade away, allowing me to surrender to the creative moment.
It would be really interesting to do this interview again in 5 years, to see how my process of creation will have evolved.”
Your designs have unique shapes that bring a nature-like, raw feeling to them, how would you describe the style of your pieces?
“My style is rooted in the present moment. A conscious, vibrant, powerful style that comes out of the depths. A style that permeates.
As a result, many of my creations resemble elements of the natural world, such as animals and plants. This is not only a natural progression but also a deliberate effort to bring out the life and energy present in everything. My environment also strongly influences my work, the materials, memories, and emotions around me leave their mark and contribute to the final result.
My work has an open and Flexible Style of movement.”
The piece Raices Flotantes uses both ceramics and rattan, creating a unique interconnected piece. When experimenting with materials, what are the major challenges of the design process and what have you learnt from them?
“The primary challenge for me as a designer, craftwoman and independent worker is to translate my creative vision into tangible form using techniques honed through years of study and practice. While technical proficiency is important, it is both a tool and a constraint in my work.
Therefore, there is a constant drive for exploration and the desire to expand my artistic vocabulary, often leading to creating new and unique expressions.
From a technical standpoint, the most intriguing challenge lies in seamlessly connecting dissimilar materials, similar to the connection between different people and relations.
Each material or being has its own unique properties and characteristics, such as elasticity, stiffness and fragility. Which can make the connection process demanding and often involve several rounds of experimentation and adjustments.
Interestingly, the concept of Raices Flotantes -floating roots in English, comes from the personal experience of moving my roots from Italy to Spain and finally to the Netherlands. As some plants do, my roots had to find nutrients in different soils adapting to different environments.
Organic shapes, a variety of colours and meaningful pieces. Which designers are you inspired or influenced by? What other fields and inputs outside of the design world provide you inspiration?
“It’s a difficult question as I try to not get influenced by everyone and everything. From an early stage, the Surrealists had a big impact on me.
The fact is that Nacho Carbonell and Paloma Castaño have become role models in my lifestyle since I met them in 2017. The importance I place on the errors and singularities that exist within imperfections. Errors to me are new possibilities waiting to be explored. I have translated this philosophy into a highly intuitive and emotional style that is deeply connected to the earth.
I have recently found a new particular energy in Marco Rainò and Barbara Brondi, on how they collaborate. It fascinated me how they talk as a dialogue, there is no egocentrism between them and it is nice to see how they manage to be together as artists.
History, psychology, philosophy and music are the engines of awareness that give me the tools to make sense of my life. Even if I resist admitting it, the technological field offers me unique possibilities to look forward to.
Currently, my biggest focus is to stay in my lane, by not being influenced and allowing myself to build my own path.”
MiDA-lab was created to explore your own projects, where the current collection showcases a set of new hybrid shapes. What is the most important piece of advice for fresh graduates in the creative field?
“In my case, after graduating, I moved to Eindhoven where I had the option to keep studying, but I chose to work with Nacho Carbonell as I wanted to learn by working and by being in a professional environment.
At the same time, this is a double-edged sword, but from personal experience, I would say to graduates to get professional experience, do apprenticeships, and immerse in the professional world, as it is very different from the student environment.”
With a growing collection of pieces, what is the new step for MiDA-lab?
“In the upcoming weeks, I will be presenting in Milan Design Week 2023, at the Tools and Craft exhibition, where visitors will be able to see some of my finished work and I will be there in person to make a work-in-progress performance working with rattan.
Besides this, starting this summer, customers will find some of my lamps available for purchase in the new design boutique ‘Natural Selection’ in NYC, this store will be carrying only hand made home goods.
Furthermore, in the near future, I am looking forward to having my pieces with a gallerist, as I believe it would increase the width and depth of reach and visibility of my work within the art world.”