Space in­vaders

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

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