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Michael Anastassiades, Marcantonio and Fabrice Berrux do not need any introduction in the design world. They have three different nationalities and styles but they share three imperatives: challenge, excite, and delight. We met them during the latest Milan Design Week, which left us with a certainty: to be a designer you must also be an anthropologist.
Michael Anastassiades says he has always drawn. But in addition to becoming a creative by profession, he also started taking and giving yoga classes. And practice became a mindset, characterising all his projects for Flos.
The goal is very simple: overcoming your limits to achieve balance and stability.
Jewels After Jewels After Jewels, a verse from a song by Björk, is the name of your latest installation for Flos at MDW 2018. It stood out for two features: geometry and modularity. Do you think these are two important aspects for today's design?
I think that today we as designers must give people something more of a static object. Something that involves a certain degree of interaction. We are control maniacs, we always want things to be true in a specific way. But we must learn to see things differently.
Very difficult indeed, yet a very generous gesture.
Giving people the chance to be creative is a very nice gesture. It is interesting to let them be what they want to be. The Arrangements series, the protagonist of the Jewels After Jewels After Jewels installation, includes five basic shapes that can be easily arranged as desired. It is the same principle of String Lights, the 2013 project that could be reinterpreted at will. It was like putting a pencil in the hands of people, allowing them to freely express themselves and give an idea of themselves to others, as they do on social networks. Many people have felt intimidated, frightened by the String Lights project, because it is difficult to manage freedom. Often we as human beings do not want to be free. But it's a nice gesture to allow someone to be free.
The IC Lights instead came from a different idea, that of a juggler who makes a series of crystal spheres move with ease and balances them at startling angles.
Yes, it was a completely different project, but still it was declined in a series of versions, table, wall, pendant lamps... And people liked the idea of being spoiled for choice.
If Michael Anastassiades draws what his mind imagines, Marcantonio sculpts it. He likes to think of his work as a continuation of what he was doing when he was only a child. An idea of immediacy and spontaneity that approaches him to Stefano Seletti, for whom he has designed iconic products such as the Monkey Lamps.
What do your choices, your projects, from the Monkey Lamp to the Luminaire, tell us about you and our society?
My production doesn’t stem from the desire to say something but from the need to create. I think it is a natural process, like a plant flowering or a rock that turns into crystals. I only have to choose the best ones. It’s just like falling in love and then it is the same love and the same care I put into creating or developing these ideas. I feel that people will like what I create because I like it, too, and I am normally very critical even with myself.
Through my work I understood that my identity does not want to be defined but to be left free to change, and this is a great privilege. Indeed, if there is something I want to communicate, it is this idea of freedom.
More generally, in what direction is design going and why?
There are many types of design and often they go in opposite directions, so it is not possible to have a common perception.
Certainly we can say that design goes towards the future, and aims at discovering new languages and new technologies. It will help us live better, but I hope there will always be room for emotion.
What do you think is or should be the role of the designer in a society like ours, in which for example your beloved bond between man and nature is extremely neglected?
Obviously, a designer, who has the chance to communicate to many people, has the duty to spread an intelligent ethics. But this should be done by anyone, actors, sportsmen, politicians as well as artists. A designer’s role is to design products that people like.
I feel a strong appeal to nature and I constantly relate to it and I take inspiration from it. I like creating objects that represent animals and plants because they make me feel better. And it is true that sometimes we identify ourselves as something other than nature, even if we are nature’s maximum expression. The modern world is a bit alienating, which is why I tend to create objects that evoke our belonging.
Fabrice Berrux is a professor of design as well as a designer, therefore he is always in contact with young people, which has allowed him to maintain a spirit that is both playful and mature. He designs to surprise himself. At the latest MDW he presented, among other projects, a modular bookcase with a revealing name: Cabinet de Curiosité.
As Michael Anastassiades often reflects on the polyvalent meaning of the English word pendant, Fabrice Berrux was inspired by the French term bibliothèque which designates both the physical place in which we consult books and the piece of furniture where we store them. That's why - he explains - I wanted to create a bookcase with an architectural dimension.
Where do your creations come from?
From a common feeling: all of us, when we wake up in the morning, hope to be surprised during the day. We want to be amazed by stories or meetings, but that happens seldom. So the best way is to surprise yourself: and that's exactly why I chose to be a designer.
So even this bookcase, which for her is also a memory of her grandfather's souvenir studio, is an invitation to be curious, to be surprised?
Of course: the Cabinet de Curiosité is obviously suitable for collecting books but it is also a space in which to show souvenirs, treasures, sculptures, elements of our past, the triumphs of modernity. It's a bit like when we receive flowers: we like to put them in a vase because we'll be surprised by the way they will settle inside it, which will be different from the bouquet.
In the same way, we will have the pleasure of filling this library: what book do I put there, what pictures do I put there? This dialogue with the object is a dimension that interests me. I love all the rituals we entertain with our environment and in particular with objects.
A philosophy of life perfectly in line with the icons of the Veneto brand, from Big Table to Eddy, still protagonists at the last Salone del Mobile.
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