01.05.12 | Stories
Retro-nostalgia: The rise of the authentic
Perhaps as a reaction to an unstable world the search for authenticity and meaning is reaching new heights. Think Instagram, artisan bakers, vintage fashion, beards, backyard chooks and urban beekeeping, we are yearning for wholesome and familiar and what’s now being described as the retro-nostalgic.
With this in mind it’s timely that the heritage of leading design groups is now under the microscope. At the Milan Furniture Fair this year many well-known brands, including Edra, Arflex and Zanotta, renewed conversations with the past and back catalogues were brought out of the archives.
At Edra and Arflex this meant re-visiting their collection of chairs that are significant and iconic markers of the time. Arflex re-released two armchairs by architect Marco Zanuso – Lady and Martingala – who began working with the company in 1947, along with technicians Aldo Bai, Pio Reggiani and Aldo Barassi. Experimenting with new materials and technologies they built strong and fruitful collaborations with some of the most important designers and architects shaping the then new and industrialised design industry. While at the Edra showroom on via Ciovassino in the Brera quarter of Milan, Edra reviewed its twenty-five years through the armchair – twenty-five armchairs narrating its trailblazing history that began in 1987.
For Zanotta who launched in 1954, it was not only about making products it was also an important cultural journey at a time when the world was changing. In the 1950s and 60s, a new approach to designing was being shaped by designers from Zanuso to Superstudio, coined by terms such as techno-functionalism and sculptural minimalism. At Zanotta, Superstudio and Achille Castiglioni were reshaping the company that had begun humbly with the simple upholstered sofa. Soon new ideas were flourishing and by the 70s this new approach to the way we design, and how we live, came to life through a pivotal exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art called ‘Italy: The New Domestic Landscape’.
The Quaderna collection by Superstudio was central to the show at MoMA and represented the radical design movement at the time. Designed by a group of architects from Florence – Adolfo Natalini, Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, and the Frassinelli and Magris brothers – the collection included an extensive range of furniture pieces and architecture concepts, with the furniture range picked up by Zanotta and put into production in 1972.
So here we are looking back at a time when everyone was looking forward. It’s ironic in one way but also an important moment as authenticity turns mass-production and over-consumption on its head. Designed obsolescence is well and truly losing its mojo when a sixty-year-old chair still holds our gaze.
Words_ Heidi Dokulil
Photography_ Images ©Zanotta and ©Edra.
27.08.15 | Stories
At Architecture Media’s Design Speaks event, designers and thinkers – including Ministry of Design’s Colin Seah, Clive Wilkinson and Foundation for Young Australians Jan Owen – discussed the shifting work place and the power of invention and connection. Here more space takes a look back in time at some of the trailblazers who have helped shape the office of today. More
07.07.15 | Stories
It is not many companies that can celebrate 90 years, and in particular one with the impact on the design industry that furniture maker Porro has had since 1925. More
01.06.15 | Stories
Brooklyn-based lighting group Roll & Hill has released seven new designs during New York’s biggest annual festival of design – NYC x Design. More
14.05.15 | Stories
04.05.15 | Stories
At the Museo della Permanente during the Milan Furniture Fair this year, Japanese designer Oki Sato exhibited 100 designs produced over the past year including new pieces for Glas Italia shown for the very first time. More
21.04.15 | Stories
The Memphis movement is back, but maybe it never really went away – the colourful, exuberant and optimistic ideas first launched at the Milan Furniture Fair in 1981 are found just below the surface and still influencing designers today. More
06.03.15 | Stories
A true renaissance man, Turin-born Carlo Mollino was a designer, an architect, a photographer and thrill seeker, who once famously remarked: ‘Everything is permissible as long as it is fantastic’. More
06.02.15 | Stories
28.11.14 | Stories
Charles and Ray Eames turned their LA apartment into a workshop in 1941. The Kazaam! machine, a DIY-device for molding plywood was the key to the creation of the Plywood Group as well as Vitra’s Eames Elephant stool for kids and the iconic Organic Chair More