«Each time we get to work on a project, we think of it as if we were building a film set», Alberto Biagetti talks about Stanley Kubrick, who, when he started working on 2001: Space Odyssey, contacted scientists, engineers, interior designers, furniture designers, engineers and industrial design consultants from IBM – the world’s top computer business at the time, «so we could imagine the shape that items would have in the future, to understand where the world was going, where science was going, and how to represent that. Kubrick chose a design solution populated by items that serve a function but at the same time convey the idea of a mental, psychological space».
The duo at Atelier Biagetti – Alberto Biagetti and Laura Baldassari – designed a table for the new Objets Nomades collection by Louis Vuitton, presented every year at the Salone del Mobile in Milan. The piece is called Anemona Table. Alberto and Laura are the first Italian designers to take part in the French Maison’s project – following in the footsteps of Maarten Baas, the Campana brothers, and Marcel Wanders, among others.
«The outcome is the least nomadic item you could possibly imagine», says Alberto, referring to the Objet Nomade concept, whose matrix is based on movement, the design of furniture ready to travel, ready for life on the move. «A table is a static object – but if you think about it, a table is also a symbol of meetings; in common terms, it’s almost a cliché: when you say two parties “sit down” it means they are having a meeting, having talks, discussions, finding solutions, coming to a decision, taking new directions. The destination of any nomad». Laura is a visual artist, with a past in opera: «Where else does this sense of conviviality emerge – spending time together, listening, mixing – more than around a table?». Alberto, architect and designer, smiles often. «Today we are focused on what is going on in the digital world. In our line of work, the challenge is about restoring the balance between our constantly changing world and our habits, the items we use on a daily basis».
The name of Anemona Table was inspired by seabeds, whilst the choice of blue for the details refers to the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, «a symbol of our city» – Laura and Alberto both come from Ravenna. The sea was the first idea that led us to develop the idea of traveling, of nomadism. «Ravenna was one of pivotal ports for the Eastern and Western Roman Empire. We thought long about what our hometown – family – means for us. We asked ourselves: what is important for a nomad, the departure point – maybe nothing, maybe something to be overlooked – in any case, the beginning of a journey, an anchor: a table». Both make no attempt to hide their Romagna accent and they make me feel at ease.
Atelier Biagetti prepared a theatrical setting for the Anemona Table. They reiterated the concepts of Italian traditions and classicism through their choice of materials and the construction of the volumes. Their use of leather was inspired by classic set design, generating movement that is soft yet rigid at the same time, «like the curtains in the paintings by Caravaggio. We use leather for its organic texture. There is clearly a reference to the materials used by Louis Vuitton but our choice is linked to the concept of physical contact».
Atelier Biagetti wants to define a dimension linked to the physical as well as the mental sphere. Design is a discipline; it involves interaction between the body and the object, and forms a dynamic relationship with it: «A chair may remind you of a place, a person, a specific moment in your life. It can trigger a series of elements that go beyond its original purpose. What role is played by the body since everything disappears inside a monitor, on the screen of a smartphone?».
The pictures in the book Money, Sex, and Body Building (published last year by Atelier Biagetti) are bursting with contemporary references: Cremaster by Matthew Barney, Richard Prince’s nurses, Physicalism by Sterling Ruby. «The book is divided into three parts: the first is Body Building; the second is No Sex and the third is God. The aesthetic of ‘scratch cards’ is based on these three concepts: fashion, the idea of beauty, of obsessively transforming your body».