When student designers met with master woodworkers, they gained invaluable insight into the possibilities and limitations of working with wood, knowledge that informed their creation of original wooden objects, including:
• A skateboard designed to showcase the exquisite patterns made by wood grain
• A fan that uses marquetry to evoke the form of wind in nature
• A shoebox, whose form changed radically after expert advice from the master artisan
• A relaxing ornamental object that harnesses the fragrances of different types of wood
This September visitors to the Homo Faber exhibition in Venice will have the chance to view the exhibit Natural Talent, a collection of original wooden pieces resulting from a collaboration between 20 young international designers and two master woodworkers.
At the time they created the exhibit, the talented young designers were students at the Creative Academy, a Milan-based international design school which offers a unique Master’s level programme. Welcoming just 20 young designers a year from all over the world, the programme aims to educate students about the traditional métiers d’art and create a dialogue between designers and artisans, bringing creativity and practical knowledge together.
The brief for Natural Talent was set by Nicolas Bos, CEO of luxury maison Van Cleef & Arpels, who specified that wood should be used for the project. Two master artisans from Lombardy were then invited to work with the students: marquetry specialist Giordano Viganò and expert woodturner Carlo Meloni.
Students drew inspiration from their homelands – including South Africa, China, Italy and Australia – to design their pieces, and worked with Viganò and Meloni to develop them, a process that gave students an appreciation of both the possibilities and the limitations imposed by the materials and techniques.
Italian student Giulia Maria Vavassori, who worked with Viganò to create a shoebox inspired by the shape of the traditional Lucia boat on Lake Como, explains: “I wanted to make a wooden box that opened on a hinge, but Giordano explained that wasn’t possible. We worked together to come up with a tower-like structure, and in the end the final object was much better than it would have been.”
The result of this collaboration is a collection that showcases both the design talent of the future and the long-held techniques of highly-skilled artisans.
“As designers we sometimes forget our roots, but they are fundamental. Every designer has to know what objects are made of.” – Giulia Maria Vavassori
Natural Talent is one of 16 exhibition spaces that make up Homo Faber: Crafting a more human future, a major new exhibition celebrating European craftsmanship, organised by the Michelangelo Foundation.
Notes for editors
Crafting a more human future
Fondazione Giorgio Cini, San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
Free admission upon registration at homofaberevent.com
Homo Faber is the first major cultural exhibition dedicated to the very best in European craftsmanship. Organised by the Michelangelo Foundation, it aims to put fine craftsmanship on the global map and increase recognition and visibility for master artisans. The exhibition will bring together a vast range of materials and disciplines, from jewellery to bespoke bicycles, from the rarest artisanal techniques to some of the most iconic examples of the finest European workmanship. Created by a hand-picked team of world-class designers, curators and architects, the exhibition stretches over a number of magnificent spaces throughout the Fondazione Giorgio Cini. homofaberevent.com
The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship is an international, nonprofit institution based in Geneva, Switzerland, which celebrates and preserves master craftsmanship and strengthens its connection to the world of design. Rooted in a tradition of culture and excellence and in the realities and challenges of today’s global economy, the Foundation seeks to support men and women who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of master craftsmanship and to foster a new cultural movement built around the values that are essential for their work. The Foundation focuses on Europe as a starting point for its activities, in recognition that craftsmanship has been a vital part of the economic and cultural fabric of the region for centuries. michelangelofoundation.org
Based in Milan, the capital of design, the Creative Academy offers a highly specialised Master’s programme taught by working professionals. Unique in the world, it aims to give students a real appreciation of the métiers d’art in order to help them better design with the maker in mind. From up to 200 applications the Academy selects just 20 young designers per year who come from a diverse array of design backgrounds: from fashion and watches to industrial design and even car design. Students spend seven months being taught by professional designers and artisans across three fields – jewellery, watches and accessories – and have the opportunity to work on real projects. This hands-on training is followed by a three-month internship in one of the Richemont maisons. creative-academy.com
Natural Talent is promoted by Creative Academy in collaboration with the Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte with the support of Van Cleef & Arpels. The project was realised under the guidance of Alberto Nespoli and Domenico Rocca of Eligo Studio, Milan. It was originally exhibited at the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan from 4th April to 29th May 2017 as part of the Salone del Mobile 2017.