Design Diary

A personal review of design creations.

Notturno I by Fernando & Humberto Campana

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The fratelli Campana are returning to Rome to unveil a new collection over two years. Notturno 1 & 2 will demonstrate, if still necessary, how complimentary Humberto and Fernando are.

You may think you know Humberto and Fernando Campana and their distinctive signature in the design world but few are really aware that the brothers grew apart and only started to work together at a rather late stage. Their experiences, although opposite, have revealed themselves to be complimentary and they have flowed into a common poetry which is fuelled by fantasy and playfulness. 

The brothers love to create bonds between differing codes uniting thought and matter, imagination and reality. They love to immerse, explore and experiment.

For the Rome gallery Giustini/Stagetti, they have created a 2-fold collection which first part is unveiled today: Notturno #1 (October 2018) and the second one Notturno #2 next year.

The first part is composed of two collections, respectively  titled  ‘Bacteria’ and  ‘Morbido’. The emphasis the geometrical and volumetric virtuosity of the drawings made by the designers. 

A geometric plant, based on a dry and instinctive mark operated on flat two-dimensional surfaces characterizes, for example, both the 'Bacteria' rug, created in collaboration with Nodus (Milan) - made in hand-knotted wool and banana silk - and the ‘Bacteria’ lamps, the new series of lighting fixtures made in perforated brass sheets. On the other hand, rounded, welcoming and somehow zoomorphic geometries characterize the 'Abbraccio' armchair (hero picture) from the ‘Morbido’ collection (which translates into morbid in English and Portuguese). Here, the assembly and overlapping of heterogeneous elements - recurring in the production and aesthetics of the Campana brothers - takes on a new, extremely essential and abstract aspect, to enhance the idea of a wraparound object and to celebrate the primitive value of the sense of touch.

Notturno I opens today until Saturday November, 24th, 2018 at Galleria Giustini/Stagetti in Rome.

'Tutto Ponti' from the spoon to the city

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The most iconic Italian architect and designer of the 20th century is settling in at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (MAD) for a rare and complete retrospective of his prolific career from 1921 to 1978. 

‘Tutto Ponti: Gio Ponti, Archi-Designer’ is a vibrant homage to the man who shaped our lives for decades, added iconic buildings to his home city of Milan and brought sophistication to pure lines of furnitures. It presents a chronological view of Ponti’s six-decade career in the fields of architecture, design, interior design and publishing. 

The main hall is punctuated by five sections featuring major commissions, furniture, lighting and textiles, as well as architectural projects detailed chronologically through drawings, models, photographs and films from the period.

Six “period rooms” conclude the visit with spectacular reconstructions emphasising the global aspect of his work. The garden-side gallery explores the collaborations that he undertook with major art-object manufacturers such as Richard Ginori, Christofle (hero picture) and Fontana Arte, as well as with artisans and smaller companies. 

Over 400 pieces, some of which have never left their place of origin, trace this multidisciplinary display that combines architecture, furniture and interior fittings for private homes and public buildings (universities and cathedrals). The exhibition design was conceived by the agency Wilmotte & Associés in collaboration with the graphic designer Italo Lupi. 

Every year in Milan, I go on a trail hunting when I am in town for the Salone del Mobile. According to Domus, there are 60 buildings in the city made by the Italian genius.

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After staring his career in 1921, he rapidly got his first award two years later at the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris in 1925.

The following year, he designed his first architectural work abroad, the Ange volant villa close to Paris, and collaborated with Christofle (Paris) and Venini (Murano). In parallel, Ponti created a series of modestly priced furniture with simple forms, called La Rinascente, for the department stores, thereby making the decorative arts accessible to the greatest number.

Thanks to his connections with the movement Labirinto which gathered designers and manufacturers, he was able to spread his ideas and promote new talents thanks to the exhibitions that he organised at the Monza Biennial, and especially through Domus, which he founded in 1928.

In the 1930s, his architectural practice took a modernist turn with the construction of Case Tipiche and the offices for the company Montecatini in Milan.

He designed lighting for Fontana Arte, silverware for Krupp, fabrics for De Angeli-Frua and Ferrari and furniture for Casa e Giardino.

In the 1940s, Gio Ponti diversified his activities with monumental frescos, oil paintings, and writing, opera and the cinema, creating new screenplays as well as sets and costumes for la Scala in Milan. At the end of the war, as a major protagonist for the “made in Italy” movement, he promoted Italian design abroad through his journal Domus and the exhibitions he organised. He also conceived of two emblematic objects: the aerodynamic coffee machine La Cornuta (1949) for Pavoni and the Leggera chair for Cassina.

From 1950 to 1960, now famous, Gio Ponti’s style reached an international audience with private architectural commissions in Venezuela, the United States, the Middle East and even Hong Kong. He created two of his masterpieces during this period: Villa Planchart in Caracas and the Pirelli Tower in Milan. Lightness, transparence, clarity, colour and simplicity: these were his key words. 

In 1957, the chair Superleggera, one of the lightest in the world, became the icon of his furniture designs.

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In the 1970s, he envisaged his architectural façades as if they were folded pieces of paper pierced with geometric forms, as in the Taranto Cathedral (1970, above) and the Denver Art Museum (1974). He also took a new approach to furniture design, which became more flexible, mobile, light and luminous in order to adapt the space to contemporary lifestyles.

The beautiful exhibition illustrate what Italian architect Ernesto Nathan Rogers (1909-1969) mentioned about Ponti: “from the spoon to the city”, a perfect embodiment of the personality of the Milanese architect, whose projects could range from the infinitely small to the infinitely large.

’Tutto Ponti’ runs until February 10th, 2019.

The Skin To Avoid The Bin


Three Italian designers use the skin of potatoes to become its own ecological packaging.

Unless you are on a strict no-carb diet, we all like potatoes and the French fries. Simon Caronni, Paolo Stefano Gentile and Pietro Gaeli have noticed the level of peel waste the production of our favourite fried sticks is generating. They wanted to turn the leftover into a useless material.


Made of starch and fibre components, “Peel Saver” was created after maceration and natural dying that bond with each other and harden. Initially, they thought of combining the peelings with natural gelatine or latex but after experimenting, they realised that the potato could produce enough solidity on its own.


The purpose was to find an alternative packaging that is resistant enough for the short lifespan it is meant to be used. The Peel Saver is naturally 100% biodegradable and once used can become either a fertiliser or animal food.


Note to investors: The three Milan-based designers are still looking for funds to support the launch of their invention in a large capacity.

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Hawa Beirut & Wake Up Call By Richard Yasmine For Milan Design Week 2018

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Lebanese designer Richard Yasmine has a busy start of the year. He is presenting two collections during the 2018 edition of Salone del Mobile in Milan.

With HAWA Beirut, Richard presents a collection of very light furniture inspired from the Lebanese architecture and specifically the arches that are a trade mark in the country’s cultural heritage. I like the nostalgic reflection of the collection. 2 chairs, a low flippable coffee table and a screen including multiple materials are composing the collection with mild and soft colour panel. There is also a subtle and elegant touch of handmade silk. HAWA in Arabic language means a light summer breeze or even a deep love, a passion towards someone or something.

The collection will be on display in the FutureDome (via Giovanni Paisiello 6) as part of Ventura Future.

Wake Up Call responds to our general concerns about our environment and dying eco-systems. To Richard Yasmine, we of course all have our responsibility to save it. He creates a limited edition of table lamps composed of brass structure and hand blown organic shaped sandblasted bulbs emphasizing the light on a landscape on a landscape of multiple types of semi precious rocks (black tourmaline, emerald beryl and crystal quartz).

Wake Up Call will be on display at the Palazzo Siam (Societa d'Incoraggiamento d'Arti e Mestieri - SIAM 1838), via Santa Marta, 18.

Pictures courtesy of BizarreBeirut