The de­si­gn gu­ru li­ves in a 40-squa­re-me­tre apart­ment inMi­lan, the re­si­den­ce of the fu­tu­re. He cha­ts at the ta­ble, sleeps in the al­co­ve be­droom and ea­ts in boa­tsi­zed kit­chen. «If I need any­thing el­se, the­re’s a who­le ci­ty wai­ting to wel­co­me me»

Living - - English Text -

When you ar­ran­ge to meet Aldo Cibic - who in 1979 was a young fel­low from Schio who be­gan wor­king wi­th Et­to­re Sott­sass, the giant wi­thout equal, and who al­rea­dy be­ca­me his part­ner a year la­ter - the on­ly thing of whi­ch you can be su­re is that you can’t be su­re of any­thing. Li­ke Sott­sass, who of all the great mae­stros of to­tal de­si­gn was the one who mo­st re­sem­bled Leo­nar­do da Vin­ci, Cibic too li­ves on the ba­sis of sud­den fal­lings in lo­ve dic­ta­ted by his obli­que, sin­ce­re way of seeing the world: the world of ar­chi­tec­tu­re, de­si­gn, and grand in­ter­na­tio­nal ex­hi­bi­tions, whe­re he has been a pro­ta­go­ni­st in su­ch im­por­tant epi­so­des as de­si­gning the in­stal­la­tion for the 2006 Ve­ni­ce Ar­chi­tec­tu­re Bien­na­le, whe­re the ur­ban ex­pe­rien­ces of 16 great ci­ties we­re di­splayed com­pa­ra­ti­ve­ly. But it’s al­so the world in its an­th­ro­po­lo­gi­cal and phy­si­cal di­men­sion: from Ca­li­for­nia, whe­re he spent a long ti­me tra­vel­ling so that he could un­der­stand the se­cre­ts of an El­do­ra­do 4.0 moun­tain bi­ke, to Chi­na, whe­re he’s now tea­ching at Ton­g­ji Uni­ver­si­ty in Shanghai. Wi­th the sa­me light­ness wi­th whi­ch he talks about him­self, Cibic al­so talks about the pro­jec­ts and re­sear­ch that con­cern us he­re from ve­ry clo­se up, in Ita­ly. You might meet him at the Ri­na­scen­te de­part­ment sto­re in Mi­lan, whe­re in 2007 he in­ter­viewed hun­dreds of ex­perts in the sto­re win­dow (as thou­gh in a YouTu­be vi­deo) by asking them all a sin­gle (and fe­ro­cious) que­stion: ‘De­si­gn. Why?’. Or at the ta­bles of the Caf­fè Flo­rian in Ve­ni­ce, whe­re over the­se pa­st mon­ths he has been pre­sen­ting (IN)Com­ple­te (www.in­com­ple­te. de­si­gn): «an in­ve­sti­ga­tion of li­fe and de­si­gn in or­der to col­lect da­ta on what is real­ly re­le­vant for de­si­gning our fu­tu­re». He might turn up at the Galleria Jan­no­ne in Mi­lan - de­mo­cra­tic de­si­gn at its mo­st ex­tre­me - or in the cour­tyard of his long-ti­me friend Pao­la C., for whom he has de­si­gned beau­ti­ful glas­sware and ce­ra­mics as well as a col­lec­tion of small woo­den ob­jec­ts, Wood­work, wi­th In­dian ar­chi­tect Bi­joy Jain. On this par­ti­cu­lar oc­ca­sion we are wel­co­med in­to his new ho­me in Mi­lan: the kind of hou­se that mo­st peo­ple would call a pied-à-ter­re, whe­reas if it’s Cibic who’s tal­king about it, it be­co­mes so­me­thing that has to do wi­th us all: a prototype. «A hou­se in mi­nia­tu­re, li­ke mo­st of the hou­ses that will co­me to po­pu­la­te ci­ties that are mo­re and mo­re den­se­ly in­ha­bi­ted and whe­re al­rea­dy now, apart­men­ts are re­spon­ding to new ha­bi­ts or are for­cing us to adopt tho­se ha­bi­ts, whil­st the sha­ring of com­mon spa­ces is be­co­ming mo­re and mo­re neu­ro­tic. Hou­ses li­ke ho­tels, whe­re we work and whe­re we meet ea­ch other in the lob­bies. In my par­ti­cu­lar ca­se, he­re in the­se few 40 squa­re me­tres, the­re’s a room whe­re I can ha­ve tran­quil con­ver­sa­tions, a ta­ble of si­gni­fi­can­tly lar­ge di­men­sions, an al­co­ve-be­droom, and a kit­chen that’s no big­ger than the gal­ley of a boat. If I need any­thing el­se, the­re’s a who­le ci­ty wai­ting to wel­co­me me». Cibic is not new to the­se ex­pe­rien­ces. One of his mo­st po­tent works is Mi­cro­rea­li­ties. «A pro­ject about pla­ces and peo­ple», as he sums it up to­day. «It was an op­por­tu­ni­ty to pro­du­ce an iden­ti­ty and a sen­se of be­lon­ging in the ou­tskirts of ci­ties. That was back in 2006, when al­rea­dy in Chi­na a mul­ti­tu­de of peo­ple we­re being mo­ved out of the old re­si­den­tial areas of the cen­tre, whi­ch we­re being de­mo­li­shed, to li­ve in big con­do­mi­niums far out in the pe­ri­phe­ries. It in­crea­sed their per­so­nal spa­ce and com­fort, but a uni­ver­se of va­lues and re­la­tion­ships was lo­st fo­re­ver. From that ca­me my idea that the li­nes of the me­tro system, wi­th their sta­tions, could be­co­me an in­cre­di­ble op­por­tu­ni­ty to crea­te, ea­ch ti­me, the cen­tre of a new com­mu­ni­ty wi­th whi­ch they could iden­ti­fy». As a self-taught ar­chi­tect and de­si­gner, Cibic is a de­scen­dant of the 1989 Bo­xing Ring Bed pho­to­gra­ph by Et­to­re Sott­sass (the fa­mous bed sce­ne that por­trays the who­le dream team of Mem­phis, from Mi­che­le De Luc­chi to Mat­teo Thun), af­ter whi­ch he be­gan wor­king on his own by set­ting up Cibic& Part­ners. How would you sum up the pa­st few mon­ths? «I’ve ju­st fi­ni­shed a small set­tle­ment of sto­ne buil­dings, in the woods abo­ve the bay of Fe­thiye in Tur­key. Th­ree dwel­lings, one big kit­chen, and a shared li­ving room. The com­plex al­so in­clu­des an ate­lier, a ve­ge­ta­ble gar­den, a swim­ming pool, and a pool for fi­sh». Na­tu­ral­ly, the­re’s no room for any of that in Cibic’s own ho­me in Mi­lan. But it doe­sn’t feel po­ky. That’s be­cau­se the­re’s a bree­ze blo­wing - blo­wing to­wards the fu­tu­re.

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