Studio Martinelli Venezia: a well-thought-out contemporary design that maintains its link with tradition
By Carlotta Ferrati & Andrea Carloni
Vittorio Venezia was born in Palermo where he graduated in Architecture in 2005. Immediately the quality of his work was recognised; he won several awards including the Grand Prix and Emile Hermes in 2008, the Promosedia in 2012 and the Designreport Award in 2015 at the Salone del Mobile in Milan with the Officine Calderai project. In 2015, together with Carolina Martinelli, he founded the Martinelli Venezia studio. Their attention would not be focused only on the world of design, but also on architecture, interior design and visual communication. Their work is distinguished by a well-thought-out, contemporary design that sits well with tradition. The studio, although very young, has already had the opportunity to exhibit at the Louvre Museum in Paris, at the MAXXI in Rome and at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan. They collaborate with different brands, including Alcantara, Falper, InternoItaliano, Jannelli & Volpi, Martinelli Luce, Mingardo and Moleskine.
Vittorio Venezia and Carolina Martinelli – Photo: Daniela de Vito and Silvia Tenenti
Could you tell us about your design method?
We have an anti-method rather than a method. Our approach changes from one time to the next. There are, however, fixed points that we are always respect and “concept of limit” is one of them.
S_coordinato – Italian Institute of Culture in Paris – 2013
Do you also apply the “concept of limit” to materials?
I would say yes, and not only in their conception, but also in their use and how they are used. The limit can also be conceptual. When a designer designs, he never starts from scratch, he is confronted with history and with what we call ” rhetorical design figures” in the studio. In the case of the 4/10 Lamp series the limit was the maximum thickness of the metal that could be worked manually. In the S/Coordinato project for the Italian Cultural Institute in Paris we applied the concept of limit to memory, asking ourselves continuously: “What are the simple geometries capable of generating memories related to being Italian?” A collection / citation of geometries that belong to the territory was ideated. For example, salt and pepper convey De Chirico’s paintings, the pencil sharpener alludes to the shape of a small Moka and the rocking stool rocks similarly to a Venetian gondola.
4Decimi – 2015 – Photo: Angelo Cirrincione
Some of your projects like LINEAGE BAG for Moleskine or Falper have to do with industrial production, others instead, such as ROCCA DEI VASI / CALTAGIRONE, developed together with Branciforti, with the world of craftsmanship. How do you relate to such different worlds?
Although the approaches at the beginning may seem similar, they are two completely different areas of work. Carolina and I are architects, we don’t just move between types of companies or between artisanal and serial, but also between the world of objects and that of space. I believe that leaving the door open to different worlds gives us greater awareness of what we are doing.
La Rocca Dei Vasi – 2016 – Photo: Martinelli Venezia
Do you think Italian companies have a certain value?
Our companies are famous for their ability to adapt to change. They are small and because of this they move with difficulty and tend not to unite, but at the same time they are able to adapt to market innovations.
Babele – Photo: AlbertoParise – Client: De Castelli
Today the online market is growing, do you think it can influence the design of objects? I refer to the fact that things are chosen without being touched and viewed three-dimensionally.
Ninety per cent of the things we look at on Instagram aren’t seen live, but they influence us anyway. Social networks are full of renderings that are exchanged for photos of real objects. This leads to the paradox that we can fall in love with an object that we have never seen in real life and that perhaps does not even exist! The risk is losing a good part of the intelligence that goes into a project. Knowing how to convey becomes more and more fundamental.
Affilata – Photo: Martinelli Venezia – 2016
So are you partly pessimistic about this method of knowledge?
Usually I’m not pessimistic and I almost never get side-tracked by the idea of ”before it was better”. Also, because the future has always been uncertain, and the past has never been as beautiful as we like to believe. I think, instead, that it is important to know and reflect on the reality that surrounds us.
Etna Sgabello and Maioliche of Pietra Lithea – 2018 – Photo: Nino Bartuccio
It seems that many objects are designed with considerable thought for their success on social media.
This statement is correct, but we used to say the same thing about magazines. In the past, in every studio there were many magazines funded by companies that bought advertising space to dominate the market. With the arrival of the Internet, all these balances have changed. With social media, the problem is that we are shortening the historical value of things, everything is consumed faster. Today there is an immense number of things to see but the experts can still overcome this background noise and discover what’s new. The plurality that exists today would have been unthinkable in the past. The new vehicles have not only given a greater number of actors, but they have also given the opportunity to fortify their work thoroughly, quickly gaining much experience. I’m referring for example to the possibility of making 3D models and then printing them, or to the world of photography that has been completely revolutionised. Lastly, today the designer no longer has single-issue skills, but also possesses other expertise such as prototyping and photography. Everything has become more organic and complex and the designers are the ones that are best suited to this world.