Architectural Digest (UAE) - - Contents - WORDS TALIB CHOUDHRY

Ital­ian ar­chi­tect and de­signer Vin­cenzo de Cotiis will ex­plore earth-in­spired con­cepts at his up­com­ing ex­i­bi­tion

Vin­cenzo de Cotiis’ beau­ti­ful, func­tional sculp­tures find

in­spi­ra­tion in na­ture

"Ilike to create things that are im­per­fect, but that still of­fer a sense of lux­ury,” says the Ital­ian de­signer Vin­cenzo de Cotiis, who is some­thing of a cre­ative poly­math. Af­ter train­ing as an ar­chi­tect in Mi­lan, he started a stu­dio in the city 21 years ago, and has be­come as well known for his strik­ing sculp­tures as the high-end in­te­ri­ors he dreams up. Most re­cently, he launched a lim­ited-edi­tion furniture col­lec­tion, which bridges the di­vide be­tween art and de­sign with aplomb.

The lat­est ad­di­tions to his furniture port­fo­lio - each cre­ation is unique, but sim­i­lar styles can be com­mis­sioned - were a high­light of Mi­lan De­sign Week in April. The in­stal­la­tion in his Br­era stu­dio, was dubbed En Plein Air, French for ‘out­doors’ - a nod to the late 19th cen­tury art move­ment of the same name, which saw artists leav­ing their stu­dios to paint out­doors. “I al­ways think about how cul­ture from the past can be rein­ter­preted in a mod­ern, con­tem­po­rary way,” de Cotiis ex­plains. “I grew up with that

cul­ture. I feel more like a man from the 1900s than the 2000s. I think con­tem­po­rary ex­pres­sion al­ways needs to be re­lated to his­tory.” The 20-strong col­lec­tion - seat­ing, light­ing, ta­bles and cab­i­nets - com­bines semi-pre­cious stones, Mu­rano glass, re­cy­cled resin and cast brass. It is be­ing trans­ported to the Car­pen­ters Work­shop Gallery in May­fair for a show open­ing on 15th Septem­ber to co­in­cide with the Lon­don De­sign Fes­ti­val.

The sculp­tural, or­ganic forms come in earthy hues, and the warm brass pan­els create ‘re­flec­tions that are sim­i­lar to the light of the sun.’ “I wanted the pieces to be as close to na­ture as pos­si­ble,” he ex­plains. “The chal­lenge was try­ing to rein­ter­pret some­thing that is al­ready per­fect and show it in a new light. Peo­ple have a very strong emo­tional re­sponse to the de­signs and want to touch them. That’s the big­gest com­pli­ment. It’s the same in the coun­try­side - you want to touch and feel things, to make a con­nec­tion with na­ture.”

It’s hard to ex­plain how ex­quis­ite de Cotiis’ work is when viewed up close. A wall cabi­net in sil­vered brass, trans­par­ent glass, and rare In­dian stone set in resin, looks like it is hewn from a moun­tain­side. Its sim­ple, el­e­men­tal beauty chimes with our atavis­tic need to be close to na­ture in a way that a pre­cisely man­u­fac­tured stor­age unit never can. Lit­tle won­der then, that de Cotiis refers to his oeu­vre as ‘func­tional sculp­ture.’

The stag­ing and sound­scape for his ex­hibits are reimag­ined each time, adding to his cre­ative vi­sion. All of the one-a-kind pieces are hand­made by de Cotiis and his team of ar­ti­sans in a work­shop 400km away from Mi­lan. Sur­pris­ingly, he trav­els there al­most ev­ery day, the long drive serv­ing as think­ing time to dis­till ideas and take in the beauty of the north Ital­ian land­scape. Once he ar­rives at the work­shop, he is very hands on: the crafts­men do not work on pieces when he's not there. Ev­ery de­ci­sion, ev­ery shape is very in­tu­itive as he grad­u­ally moulds and lay­ers the ma­te­ri­als.

The works start life as sketches, but there are no pre­cise mea­sure­ments or sharp an­gles in­volved in their mak­ing.

As in na­ture, an over­ar­ch­ing or­der com­bines with hap­pen­stance to create daz­zling ef­fects.

A cof­fee ta­ble made from cast brass and stone ap­pears to be en­tirely or­ganic in form with dis­tressed and pati­nated sur­faces. These per­fect im­per­fec­tions el­e­vate the piece from de­sign to sculp­ture.

Artists who were part of the En Plein Air move­ment painted quickly to try and cap­ture the ef­fects of shift­ing light and winds on the land­scape. The dabs of paint they used came to be known as pointil­lism. To echo the ef­fect, de Cotiis uses small Mu­rano glass beads set in resin, which add depth and lus­tre. The two ma­te­ri­als have dif­fer­ent melt­ing points, fus­ing to­gether to create stun­ning re­sults, which look en­tirely nat­u­ral. It is an in­no­va­tive tech­nique that's never been em­ployed be­fore.

Some of the works are purely dec­o­ra­tive, such as a vase-like sculp­ture which is mono­lithic in form, draw­ing view­ers closer to ad­mire its raw-yetre­fined sur­face. This tac­tile ap­peal and con­trast be­tween pol­ished and matte ma­te­ri­als is a thread which runs through the whole col­lec­tion.

As well as imag­in­ing the wind mov­ing through the land­scape and the ef­fect of shift­ing light, de Cotiis thought about the force and beauty of mov­ing bodies of wa­ter. The lat­ter in­spired the mes­meris­ing sur­face of a four me­tre­long ta­ble, its sin­u­ous sil­hou­ette adding to the feel­ing of flu­id­ity.

“I be­lieve that my work needs to be full of pas­sion and dif­fer­ent in­spi­ra­tions. It’s not like in­dus­trial de­sign which is all about repet­i­tive pro­cesses. I con­stantly need to find a new idea, some­thing that is very emo­tional. I’m hap­pi­est when I’ve just fin­ished a piece. I feel some­how re­lieved and ready to move on to some­thing new.” de­

Vin­cenzo de Cotiis will be show­cas­ing his earth-in­spired col­lec­tion at the Car­pen­ters Work­shop Gallery from15th Septem­ber

“Peo­ple havea strong emo­tional re­sponse to the de­signs and want to touch them. That's thebig­gest com­pli­ment” VINC EN ZO DE COT I ISDE­SIGNEREA RT H STONES THE COL­LEC­TION BRINGS TO­GETHER N AT U R E A N D A R TH I STO RY

A side ta­ble of stone, brass andresin

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