Carlo Scarpa Hall
curated by Giulio Cappellini and Domitilla Dardi
For the third and conclusive chapter of Local Icons. Urban landscapes / North-South the designers Form Us With Love, Great Things to People, Gustavo Martini, Steven Haulenbeek, Marc Thorpe, Liliana Ovalle, Seck + Birsel, Ilkka Suppanen explore the urban landscape, fusing the ideal with real life.
Two very different parts of the world come together to dialogue about the city, understood not only as a collection of monuments and buildings, but as a landscape composed of natural elements, inhabited by a community of people who condition it with their way of life. What emerges is a portrait of cities with an environmental rather than touristic dimension, composed of the observations and emotions of those intimate with the places as citizens as well as designers.
Once again Alcantara® is the medium of choice for communicating to the public the designs and the visions of the designers; in this case tackling an unprecedented scale for this material: that which goes beyond the confines of the object and takes on the grand dimensions of the urban landscape.
Objects of everyday use, typical of the Swedish lifestyle, form this portrait of the city. Traditional articles or to do with Stockholmers’ leisure activities or day–to–day life get a new twist through the use of Alcantara. The material implements a number of the individual objects’ ergonomic and aesthetic usage characteristics without disowning their functional form, often of ancient origin.
According to the designers, the Chilean capital’s strongest quality is its geographical location close to the Andes. However, the city’s heavy pollution means its proximity to the mountain chain is often impossible to appreciate. At the same time, the considerable difference in social conditions among the city neighbourhoods generates a contentious map, where rich and poor zones alternate in a rather irregular arrangement. The urban landscape, represented by elevations – which can be used as seats or low tables and emphasise the material’s feel – speaks of this: of the contradictions of the urban space and of a natural landscape which, it is hoped, can be given back to its legitimate inhabitants.
Rio’s allure is inseparably bound to its beaches, which are an integral part of the urban fabric. We see Ipanema as the heart of the Brazilians and their way of living in close contact with the ocean and the beach, in a community whose social life centres here. Altinha (in English: keepie–uppie) is a game in which a football is kept in the air and passed among the players without letting it touch the ground. This flight of footballs coloured with the hues of sunset highlights Alcantara’s vast colour palette and is a snapshot of a carefree moment that represents the spirit of the city and its inhabitants far better than any form of monumentality.
Chicago owes its modern look to the reconstruction after the Great Fire in the late 19th century. According to legend, the disastrous conflagration was caused by a cow that kicked over an oil lantern. However, from this tragic event a modern city arose, the first in the world to grow vertically thanks to Louis Sullivan’s famous skyscrapers, symbols of a new urban–planning era. The artist tells us a local story that goes global through his vision and usage of an exclusive pattern designed especially for the Alcantara–MAXXI project, where the origin of the story is lost amidst legend and reality.
The city–on–the–go par excellence, New York expresses its special quality for efficiency even in its urban layout characterised by orthogonal blocks of buildings that soar into the sky. Only one area breaks this architectural grid pattern: the green oasis of Central Park in the heart of Manhattan. This gap in the dense forest of constructions is a pause of rest and silence, a place where New Yorkers spend their spare time, enjoy open–air activities and socialise. Thorpe, an NYC dweller, uses the material to recreate the sense of this alternation of activity and passivity in an installation where visitors are invited to enter, lie down and change their pace and outlook.
This city is built not only on layers of geological eras but also the peoples and the art that, over the centuries, those peoples created. Mexico City preserves the ruins of its pre–Columbian past and the splendour of the Templo Mayor with its characteristic stepped profiles. The installation is a tribute to this architecture, which is no longer visible but still exists in ruins and ideal reconstructions. It also pays homage to the folk traditions which, during festivities, see the city centre streets decorated with brightly coloured perforated paper – echoed in the precise laser cutting of the layers designed by Ovalle. Layer after layer, as she draws on the historical memory and customs of the Mexican people, the designer recreates today the city’s most authentic genius loci.
According to the artists, Dakar is a very feminine city. Their tribute is all about its matriarchal society, proud of its femininity, warmth and courage. A family was chosen to represent this society, a basic social unit dressed in clothes that become canvases on which ancient yet modern patterns are painted, where abstract and figurative elements go in the same direction, into colour. A powerful and expressive force, like a primitive need which here assumes a new material consistency.
A kind of Finnish Wonderland carries us into an almost dream–like dimension, where we can sit on large red fruits, mushrooms and even a giant salmon. The difference in scale helps us to lose ourselves in the spirit of Nordic legends and in the lifestyle of the inhabitants of a big, modern city like Helsinki. Helsinkians have never broken their vital bonds with their natural surroundings and devote every moment of their spare time to it. An invitation to enjoy an enchanted experience made possible by the raw material’s versatility.