An urban scene of the imaginative piazza at K11
It is afternoon in Italy. Upon its amber, tranquil cityscapes, groups of well-dressed men and women tread slowly along the winding, terraced streets, which are enclosed by a rich assortment of shops, owned by the world’s finest tailors, craftsmen, shoemakers, cooks -Italian ones. An amber, tranquil scent is spread by the brick pavement that is warmed in the setting sunlight, as well as by the coffee brewing in the cafe near the end of the street, at the side of the piazza, seated with people who are reading, drinking, sketching, having relaxed chatter, around each of its array of small, round tables stretching outward from the cloister, at the end of which, the bells in the duomo begin to ring, driving away a flock of pigeons. It will soon be dawn -a time to retire from day, and enjoy a draught of vintage which tastes of the blushful, sunburnt, Italian flora. The darkening shadows lengthen and invade the piazza, accentuating its every crease and curve and column and arch: at last declaring the glory of the grand vessel which contains all these lovely images -a vessel which, since ages past, has been constructed, destroyed, forgotten, rediscovered, treasured -its architecture.
Design in Italia
Over the past millennia, Italy’s architecture set the stage for its glorious history and great figures, and is now the only living linkage to the brilliant minds that once occupied it. Now, it remains as the vessel for Italy’s well-known high-end industries of fashion, sports cars, fine dining, furniture. The influence of this inheritance on modern architecture in Italy is well-known: it overshadows and oppresses its development. It therefore prompts the question: how has this vessel shaped la dolce vita and its high-end products?
This project envisions Italian classical architecture, the symbol of the nation’s golden age, as an apparition —an illusion, hovering in the realm of the mythical, thereby questioning its role as the physical incubator of this global cultural superpower, as well as its conceptual influence on the all ensuing cultural endeavours of Italy.
Colosseum in Rome
1/ Silhouette [la silhouette]
This is the image of the Roman classical aesthetics rewritten in a postmodern dialect. Its most symbolic edifice –the Colosseum, once the most magnificent arena of the empire –is abstracted to its sole essence. While celebrating the arch as the key architectural motif of Ancient Rome, its original, functional structure is dematerialised, decomposed into a mere formal ornament.
2/ Shell [lo schema]
An irony is set up in the reinterpretation of the immense, colossal structure in terms of the frail, translucent, parallactic layers of mesh fabrics, as if a formless mirage flaring and fluttering midair. The Colosseum, now emptied with the chanting of the crowd, the majesty of the empire, the lavish celebrations and pompous games, remains as a fading, hollow shell: vacant, cold, and suspended in eternity.
3/ Projection [la proiezione]
During the time when the projection of image into the human eye was still a mystery to science, perspective drawings in Europe were drawn with the aid of a perspective machine.
In 1413, during Italy’s High Renaissance, the first modern mathematical treaty on the geometrical method of perspective is written by Filippo Brunelleschi, in Florence, Italy. By conforming to these principles of anamorphic projective, a near-photorealistic representation of our perception of the world can be documented on paper.
The manipulation of these principles, however, can deceive the human eye and result in anamorphic illusions, i.e. the same human perception of an image can be produced by an infinite number drastically incongruent source objects.
In this vision of the Colosseum, the geometrical harmony of Hellenic classicism is distorted into an anamorphosis, revealing its original proportions only when viewed from a single vantage point, and yet simultaneously provides a multitude of surreal, psychedelic readings of the installation from elsewhere throughout the atrium, as the viewer circulates. The line between the real and the unreal is blurred.
Alberti & Brunelleschi
4/ Reflections [la riflessione]
This transmogrified, half-imagined Colosseum, now with only traces of its primal semblance remaining, floats above a small collection of luxurious, stylish products designed by today’s eminent designers from Italy. As the fabric installation casts its faint shadows onto this lot, the contrasting images above and below reflect upon one another, and the two sets of disparate and yet similar aesthetics juxtapose and/or resemble, and the audience is at last faced with this ambiguous symmetry of the old and the new, the classical and the postmodern. The touch of illusion pervades this piece.