Ris­ing de­sign star MAT­TEO CIBIC has some in­cred­i­ble plans for the fu­ture.


Ris­ing de­sign star Mat­teo Cibic has some in­cred­i­ble plans for the fu­ture

Mat­teo Cibic is driv­ing on a high­way

be­tween Bil­bao and San­tander in Spain, on the way to his friends’ wed­ding. He spent a cou­ple of days tak­ing in the sights of Bil­bao, his first visit to the de­sign gem in the heart of the Basque coun­try. In Septem­ber, he’ll be mak­ing his first visit to Canada for the In­te­rior De­sign Show Van­cou­ver. “I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to it. I heard it’s one of the best places in the world.” He will be pre­sent­ing Il Par­adiso Dei Sogni, a ce­ramic se­ries of fic­tional an­thro­po­mor­phic an­i­mals. “It’s a col­lec­tion of dream­like sce­nar­ios of eight an­i­mals that live in this kind of par­adise where they con­stantly make love,” he ex­plains. There is noth­ing ex­plicit about them; they are rather quirky in na­ture. It’s a trait em­bed­ded in all of Cibic’s work.

If his last name rings a bell, it’s be­cause he shares it with his fa­mous un­cle, Aldo Cibic, ar­chi­tect and co-founder of the iconic Mem­phis Group. Cibic fre­quented his un­cle’s stu­dio dur­ing his child­hood, but pur­su­ing a ca­reer in de­sign wasn’t al­ways on the agenda. “I was a very am­bi­tious kid, I al­ways loved to do crafts with my hands,” he says. “But in a pe­riod of my child­hood, I wanted to be the Pope.” A surreal im­age comes to mind: Cibic as Jude Law in HBO’s “You can see me as the Young Pope?” he laughs. De­spite its un­re­al­is­tic por­trayal of the Vat­i­can, Cibic loves the show. Around his teen years, he traded for­mal church func­tions for the bas­ket­ball court in hopes of reach­ing a Michael Jor­dan-level of suc­cess. De­spite Cibic’s tall and lanky frame and pro­fes­sional train­ing,

love of de­sign pre­vailed. He en­rolled at Mi­lan’s Poly­tech­nic Univer­sity where he stud­ied art, de­sign, and ar­chi­tec­ture, and later spent time at Benet­ton’s renowned re­search cen­tre, Fabrica in Tre­viso.

A decade later, his star is on the rise. Dur­ing Mi­lan De­sign Week this past April, his name was on ev­ery­one’s lips. Just a cou­ple of weeks prior, he won the high­wly re­garded Elle Deco In­ter­na­tional De­sign Award in the young tal­ent cat­e­gory. Although highly pro­lific, Cibic is a one-man show, hav­ing re­cently dis­banded his small stu­dio of five em­ploy­ees in favour of free­lance col­lab­o­ra­tors. “I have so many dif­fer­ent types of projects,” he ex­plains. “For each, I work with the best per­son that can help me with that project, be it video or in­te­rior de­sign.” Some he tack­les purely on his own. Shown in Mi­lan, Va­soNaso took 366 days to com­plete. Every day, the de­signer made a dif­fer­ent ce­ramic vase with its own dis­tinct nose pro­tru­sion—hence the name which means vase-nose in Ital­ian. “I’m a hy­per­ac­tive per­son, and I was very in­ter­ested in in­di­vid­u­als who can do just one thing for a long time.” He was in­spired by the late Ital­ian painter, Gior­gio Mo­randi, who spent most of his life paint­ing still life of pot­tery. In a re­mark­ably dis­ci­plined man­ner, the de­signer pub­lished a new vase on In­sta­gram daily and shipped it to the first cus­tomer. “It was a kind of a so­ci­o­log­i­cal study on ob­jects,” he says.

Cibic’s in­quis­i­tive na­ture is what drives him. “I’m cu­ri­ous about things, and that cu­rios­ity al­lows me to dis­cover and try new pro­duc­tion tech­niques, or a new aes­thetic,” says the de­signer. It’s what at­tracted him to col­lab­o­rate with Scar­let Splen­dour, a young lux­ury fur­ni­ture brand from In­dia. The brand launched three years ago with Cibic’s Vanilla Noir, a col­lec­tion in­spired by 14th-cen­tury to 1930 Ital­ian masterpieces and tra­di­tional In­dian hand­i­craft of bone and horn in­lays, re­sult­ing in sculp­tural wood forms with resin in place of ivory. “They are very iconic shapes. You can see a lit­tle bit of Italy and a lit­tle bit of In­dia.”

The de­signer’s abil­ity to fuse dif­fer­ent styles and tech­niques, cou­pled with his pen­chant for bright colour and ec­cen­tric man­ner helped him sail through the sea of mid-cen­tury mod­ern, paired-down aes­thetic that has so far dom­i­nated the decade. His Span­ish va­ca­tion will be a short one. In a few days, he will be head­ing to Rus­sia for a new project, one of many col­lab­o­ra­tions al­ready in the works. But Cibic has a vi­sion of an ul­ti­mate ven­ture, some­thing he aims to un­der­take at some point in the fu­ture. “I would love to work on some so­cial and dis­tri­bu­tion process more than a project. To end the mass con­sump­tion of very cheap things with low qual­ity de­signed to be thrown away su­per fast,” he ex­plains. “It would be great to make an ob­ject that could change eas­ily, or some­thing you can re­pro­gram so that you don’t have to buy a new one. We have to make slower ob­jects cooler, so they don’t run out of fash­ion in five days.” Is he glad he didn’t be­come the Pope? “I think de­sign was a much bet­ter idea.”

Clock­wise from top left: Il Par­adiso dei Sogni setup. Scar­let Splen­dour Lo­tus Sanc­tum Cab­i­net. Luce Naga Col­lec­tion. Il Par­adiso dei Sogni Col­lec­tion.

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