Sky lines

Art raises the roof for Fendi in Rome

Wallpaper - - March -­for; glob­al­stree­;hil­lel­

Graf­fiti’s cul­tural po­si­tion has long been a po­lar­is­ing topic – van­dal­ism to some, a valid art move­ment to oth­ers. Fendi is clearly in the lat­ter camp as street art forms the fo­cus of The Ring of the Fu­ture, a cir­cu­lar art­work fea­tur­ing the word ‘Fu­ture’ painted in six lan­guages on the roof of the Ital­ian fash­ion house’s HQ in Rome.

‘I see the rooftop as a blank can­vas,’ says Cris­tiana Mon­far­dini, Fendi’s vice pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and the project’s mas­ter­mind. Work­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Lon­don-based agency Global Street Art, Fendi com­mis­sioned a sex­tet of street artists to add their own ty­po­graphic style to the piece. The six artists come from the four cor­ners of the globe and in­clude Hong Kong artist Roes, Lon­don-based Ira­nian artist Cave, Korean artist Jo­dae and La-based artist Hil­lel Smith. Smith works in He­brew to add a spray-painted vi­brancy to Jewish sto­ry­telling. ‘He takes some­thing old and rein­ter­prets it with an un­ex­pected aes­thetic,’ says Mon­far­dini.

Street art made an early im­pres­sion on Smith, when he used to cy­cle past the graf­fiti­cov­ered Melrose Al­ley in West Hol­ly­wood. When he paints, he uses tape to con­trol the spon­ta­neous flow of the spray paint, and his colour­ful, geo­met­ric de­signs are in­spired by Spi­der-man comic strips, Ed Ruscha and René Magritte.

‘My work is about mak­ing He­brew global, fresh and ex­cit­ing,’ Smith says. ‘This is an al­pha­bet that is more than 2,500 years old. It has changed and de­vel­oped. I love tak­ing el­e­ments of other styles to make the al­pha­bet part of the mod­ern de­sign con­ver­sa­tion.’ Smith’s man­i­festo re­flects Fendi’s bid to up­date its own aes­thetic. The Ring of the Fu­ture is part of its F is For project, a dig­i­tal plat­form launched last year with the in­ten­tion of at­tract­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of Fendi fans among mil­len­ni­als. The art­work is also part of Fendi’s drive to change the cul­tural as­so­ci­a­tions sur­round­ing the Palazzo della Civiltà Ital­iana, its HQ since 2015 (W*201). The build­ing was orig­i­nally com­mis­sioned by Mus­solini in the 1930s and Fendi has found it hard to shake off its Fas­cist con­no­ta­tions.

The Ring of the Fu­ture cel­e­brates a bound­ary-blind art. ‘It re­flects the spirit of in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion,’ says Smith. ‘The har­mony of all the scripts is what makes it so pow­er­ful.’

right and be­low, the roof of Fendi’s hq in rome with the ring ready For con­tri­bu­tions From the artists, such as hil­lel smith (right)

be­low right, a sketch show­ing how the six artists’ works will Fit within the ring

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