FLAWLESSLY FUSING TWO CULTURAL AESTHETICS INTO THEIR WORK, DESIGN DUO STINE GAM AND ENRICO FRATESI FIND INTIMACY IN BOTH LIFE AND THEIR ART.
Fusing two cultural aesthetics, design duo Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi find intimacy in both life and their art
ANY QUARRELLING BETWEEN design’s most famous couple, Charles and Ray Eames, slipped under the radar, but contemporary design couple Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi consider a healthy debate integral to the success of their GamFratesi studio. Curating two successive Mindcraft exhibitions on Danish design at Salone del Mobile in Milan, the Danish-Italian couple have built an international reputation over the past 10 years that has won them such collaborators as Porro, Gebrüder Thonet Vienna and Cappellini. Based in Copenhagen, Gam (Danish) and Fratesi (Italian) each represent the archetypal creative approach of their respective culture. Their countries are equally famous for design but at either end of the aesthetic and philosophical spectrum. On the Italian side, Leonardo da Vinci’s benchmark means design is not great unless it’s intellectual and innovative. In Denmark, design is never great if it doesn’t function. “When we start work on a project, there’s always a very strong concept or ideology behind it,” says Fratesi. “That reflects the Italian attitude to design.” So why do their products look so Danish? “Because of our attention to function and material when we come to developing the product,” Gam explains. Whatever the formula, the chemistry works. Solutions during a product’s development can involve “much arguing — in the best sense — and lively discussion”, but their intimacy sets them apart. “We make intimacy a key part of our work, where our sofas or desks almost embrace you,” says Fratesi, pointing to the small Ligne Roset desk with its cradle-shaped hood. “We think there should be communication between the product and user, as love and appreciation of an object will not only give pleasure but also — if it is kept for the long term — be sustainable.” The designers believe they too should ‘love’ the objects they make — Geppettos to their Pinocchio products. They’ve been known to abandon ideas well into production if they’re not feeling the love. Gam and Fratesi met in 2004 while studying architecture in Italy, setting up two years later in Copenhagen. They recently moved into their new studio near the city centre. Light streams in through the large windows and is mirrored by the white walls and clean, ordered displays of prototypes and materials. The studio is sparsely staffed, and the pair likes it that way. Intimacy is, after all, their point of difference. The resolution of love after any disagreements makes it all worthwhile. Visit gamfratesi.com.
“We make intimacy a key part of our work, where our sofas or desks almost embrace you” —Enrico Fratesi