words like culture, humanity and profession are actually the fundamental elements of every project and of our life.
Often our most interesting ideas were paradoxically conceived in the car, sitting side by side
…themes that are fundamental in contemporary culture, such as beauty, sex, the idea of digital space, money, power.
Alberto Biagetti and Laura Baldassari are Romagnoli by origin but Milanese by adoption. He is an architect and designer; she is an all-round artist. They develop their work drawing from various disciplines, focusing mainly on the obsessions and clichés that characterise contemporary society.
Would you like to briefly describe what the most important moments of your training were?
We both come from Ravenna, a provincial town famous for its Byzantine basilicas, swamps and the thick pine forest in which Dante imagined the Divine Comedy. There is a strange energy here that has always inspired everyone who has frequented it, and certainly our roots have strongly influenced both of us, as if there were a very similar way of looking at things, at details, at the world. Even our families, although quite different, one from the other, have influenced our training. In both there is a strong link with art and creativity, and this has sparked in us a strong desire for beauty.
Alberto, what did your experience with alchemy leave you, both in professional, cultural and human terms?
I worked with Alessandro Guerriero from the first moment I arrived in Milan and I think I have understood, thanks to him and to other people who have been an important reference for me – Alessandro Mendini and Ettore Sottsass, that words like culture, humanity and profession are actually the fundamental elements of every project and of our life.
Laura, what prompted you to prefer an artistic, pictorial profession rather than a musical one?
Multidisciplinarity has always characterised me, being able to accomplish an idea, a suggestion, having a palette of colours available and different possibilities, real superpowers to rely on, has led me to dedicate myself to many apparently distant disciplines. There has never been the desire to choose because I believe that one thing does not exclude the other, indeed it is precisely in the mixture of multiple mindsets that I find my truth.
Your works move on the border between design, art, architecture, fashion, and performance; would you like to tell us how you plan your projects and your working method?
We do not follow a precise method, but everything is linked to a sort of flow of consciousness, of energy. Often our most interesting ideas were paradoxically conceived in the car, sitting side by side, looking down the straight line of a highway and imagining new possible scenarios. Then our work becomes almost surgical, and everything revolves around a word, to a story that traces the road. We use pre-codified forms, clichés that belong to a specific collective imagination, absolutely recognisable, a real workup on the DNA of a specific situation. We begin to imagine the scene, the people who live it, the objects that interact with our body and enter into a relationship with our psychological sphere. We draw from multiple disciplines, which as media become already coded alphabets to be recombined, to constitute each time a very personal formula, and which allows us to work on the border of what is sedimented in our memory and the unexpected, to trigger a real short circuit.
Do you use a different approach each time depending on the theme, or do you have “standards” that you try to repeat?
Our approach is always the same whether it is a scene in which the objects are thought of as actors or vice versa if the object itself is the protagonist ready to tell us a story. For us, each project potentially opens up a scenario of possible interactions and suggests behaviours and obsessions that belong to the common imagination.
A key theme of your projects are the “obsessions” of contemporary society: why?
Obsession for us is a powerful force that drags you beyond reason, makes you lose your coordinates and to different degrees appropriates each of us. The world of obsessions is a fertile basin of clichés and taboos, tools to read the reality that surrounds us and, fundamentally, even ourselves.
What did the three experiences of “Body Building”, “No Sex” and “GOD” leave Alberto and Laura? Did your research provide the answers you were looking for, or did it provide new, even more challenging questions?
The trilogy came from the desire to cross the boundaries between disciplines, experiment and create dialogue between our worlds, still distant and protected. It was the first time that we were officially working together on a completely new project, and it was at that precise moment that a very personal, unexpected expressive code was revealed to us, like a mixture that could only be conceived through the mixing of our personalities very different yet profoundly similar. Through the trilogy we wanted to question ourselves about themes that are fundamental in contemporary culture, such as beauty, sex, the idea of digital space, money, power. The trilogy is a series of episodes, a way of telling stories through objects, hypothesising and plotting, making fun of, getting lost in situations that belong to each of us to a different extent.
Your objects are made of different materials. Are you more comfortable with any one in particular?
Each story has its own material temperature or degree of saturation, brilliance, and roughness.
Which are the authors you love the most and do you think could be more akin to your work?
The authors we love most are those who have the ability to subvert the reassuring and usual personal coordinates and are capable of opening unexpected scenarios. Personally, we are not attached to any particular author, but it is in the mixture of details that we find more or less affinity.
In one of your interviews you affirm “… today we probably don’t need a new chair, but an object that can transform our home into a theatre…” What does this statement mean and how can we transport it to design practice?
It is an argument that concerns the idea of living in a space that represents us more and more, a theatre of ourselves in which our psychology plays a central role. The house is a sort of diary in which to share one’s personality; where the traditional object conceived to give shape to a function expands in favour of a more digital dimension – anti-material, psychic, a sort of theatre; where you set the stage for one’s life through desires, obsessions. The chair can be uncomfortable, senseless, bare, extraordinarily rich, wet, alone…
What are the future projects of Atelier Biagetti?
Very few, chosen from the many who propose with great attention, those with the right people, who we like because they share our view, who accept the degree of risk necessary to face complex structures, or those that we will have to face in solitude, risking everything.