driade celebrates 50 years of playfulness with a collection that’s out of this world
Driade’s furniture for the moon
In 1988, the design and architecture historian Renato De Fusco released a weighty tome about Italian furniture company Driade on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. Entitled The Design Game, it highlighted how the company’s output often contained a dash of whimsy. ‘Looking at Driade’s most peculiar characteristics, I’d say there is a recreational factor, a tendency to playfulness that is present throughout its design process, but mainly in its projects and communication,’ he explains in the book. ‘Among all its inspirations, the ludic one stands out.’
In 1968, its three founders, siblings Enrico and Antonia Astori and Enrico’s wife, Adelaide Acerbi Astori, created Driade based on ‘genius and insanity, design and poetry’, as the current CEO, Giuseppe Di Nuccio explains. Since then, the brand has worked with some of the most imaginative minds in design, from Enzo Mari and Nanda Vigo in the late 1960s to Borek Sipek in the 1980s and 1990s. Driade also gave a young Philippe Starck his first big break in 1984 when it produced the chairs he designed for the Café Costes in Paris. Starck’s pieces are still a celebrated part of the collection today. Many more illustrious names in design have passed through the Driade stables, from Konstantin Grcic and Naoto Fukasawa
to David Chipperfield (who served as the company’s artistic director from 2014-16).
For its half-century milestone, Driade passed on traditional anniversary celebrations and gave itself a challenge of sorts: to imagine the outdoor furniture of the future, perfect for taking in the lunar landscape. The Driade Moon Mission was first unveiled during this year’s Salone del Mobile as part of an immersive installation, and it has continued throughout the anniversary year with further events and initiatives. The project’s mastermind is the Turin-based designer and artist Piergiorgio Robino, founder of multidisciplinary creative collective Nucleo.
Robino’s starting point for the project was to look at the origin of the company, in particular how society was changing at the time it was founded. ‘In Italy and the world, 1968 was a visionary time, a creative moment,’ he says. ‘I wanted to take Driade back to that time, to celebrate its visionary approach.’ Robino devised a narrative that involved not just a trip in time, but also into space: a collection of outdoor
‘These pieces can’t be used on Earth.we are bringing back life on the Moon’
furniture imagined for use on the moon in 50 years, ‘projecting the company into the next half century’. As 2019 will also mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Robino opted to anticipate that celebration while paying tribute to four Driade icons: two chairs by Philippe Starck, a table by Enzo Mari and a table by Naoto Fukasawa. Each piece was recreated in a new, larger size, and 3D printed using a material that replicates regolith, a dust found on the moon’s surface.
‘It’s an artistic project. These are unique pieces, and can’t be used on Earth,’ adds Robino, explaining that the material can’t withstand rain as it would decompose (not a major disadvantage on the moon). The original designs are outlined in a matte black material, porous and coral-like. The coral connection, Robino explains, nods to the ‘seas’ populating the Moon’s surface: ‘we are bringing back life on the Moon.’ The project is accompanied by a feature film, entitled Moonage Daydream, directed by Adriano Valerio and written by Gianluigi Ricuperati.
This elaborate construction is a perfect fit for the spirit of Driade, and that irreverent attitude that has carried the company for half a century. But it is also a quintessential Nucleo provocation. Since its inception in 1997, the creative collective, headed by Robino, has touched upon themes such as industrial production, individuality, memory and history. Previous projects, either self-initiated or supported by international galleries, have explored the likes of antique sculpture, primitive design and fossils, all translated by Robino and his team into sleek, contemporary pieces. Collaborating with Driade is a first for the studio, an exception to the rule, he says. ‘To develop a research-based concept with a company: this is a project Nucleo can do, and Driade was open to do something out of the ordinary.’
Di Nuccio echoes this enthusiasm for the collaboration. ‘Robino and his team perfectly understood Driade’s philosophy and joie de vivre,’ he says, ‘how we make domestic living into an open artwork, with the conviction that eclecticism, multiculturalism, curiosity and surprise represent the true spirit of our time.’
above, a maquette of how the driade installation would look on the moon