Creative ceramics in a collector’s home

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At Palazzo Bovara, in the Elle Decor Italia installation for Milan Design Week, architect Giuliano Andrea Dell'Uva creates an installation focused on light and the expressive characteristics of materials. The artist selected the Crogiolo Rice collection for its shade variation and the imperfection of its surface, which recalls hand-made pottery, Crogiolo Memoria and Confetto for its matt finish and strong relationship with light. Ceramics that create scenarios in a collage of references to the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Milan’s historic Palazzo Bovara regains its splendour in the installation for Elle Decor Italia by Neapolitan architect Giuliano Andrea Dell'Uva, which focuses on the theme of light, expressed here in artworks, transparent glass and reflections and refractions on different coloured surfaces. The installation presents the home of a bon vivant collector who loves to receive and surround himself with exquisite works. It transports the visitor into a hedonistic world that evokes the colours and moods of the ‘70s and ‘80s.

“We’ve re-created a home where we can express our approach to working with tactile surfaces. Our firm specialises in residential and hotel projects, mainly in Mediterranean areas, with a feeling for the hand-made, slightly imperfect look intrinsic to the culture of Naples”, Dell’Uva explains.

Marazzi’s collections have been used in three interiors in the installation, which highlight their potentials: their ability to interact with light, the material effects and textures of their surfaces, and the way they can evoke a hand-made product even though they are the outcome of high-precision, sustainability-aware industrial processes.

In the Bedroom, with en-suite bathroom, the Crogiolo Rice collection is used on the floor in white and blue, while the walls are covered with tiles, also in white and blue, with an uneven relief surface that recalls a hand-made texture. “In our design method, ceramics are never used as a mere covering; what matters to us is their tactile dimension and the sensorial dialogue they establish with users. A wall is never two-dimensional – it is an architectural feature, as in this bathroom, where the tiled block structures the space. Here we’ve intentionally achieved a “flawed” look with the shade variations and micro-ribbing of the surface. These tiles convey a hand-crafted impression we’ve never found before in industrial ceramics.”

For the Disco Club, Dell'Uva has chosen Memoria from the Crogiolo collection, in 15×15 cm size in black; the same collection recurs in the cladding of the table, in Stamp 3D structure, with a distinctive bas relief effect. “In the Disco Club we set out to evoke ‘70s and ‘80s style interiors. With the Stamp 3D structure, we’ve succeeded in recalling the rubber-coated technical surfaces popular at the time. We used a matt finish on the floor to reinforce the mood of a dark interior, contrasting with the brightly-coloured furniture.” The doorway leading into the Disco Club is lined with Confetto from the Crogiolo collection, in the Savoiardo bas-relief structure. “Set within the doorway walls, this tile is placed where visitors can touch it and its opaque surface absorbs the light; it responds to light by varying its colour, but without ever generating real reflections.”

Finally, the Color Experience room, which contains the installation by lighting design firm Metis, features Crogiolo Memoria collection tiles (size 15×15 cm), this time in white with black joints, suggesting the graphic grid of Superstudio installations. “This solution enables us to evoke the ‘70s and emphasise the bright colours of the furnishings when the light spectra of the installation change.”

In this installation, Dell'Uva reveals an impressive sensitivity to and understanding of the expressive potential of ceramics, skilfully exploiting their colour, texture and ability to absorb or reflect light. “Ceramics are in our genetic makeup and have been part of the Neapolitan tradition since the mid C18th. For us they’re not just ‘practical’ surfaces; we view them as materials of artistic value. What’s more, since a hand-crafted look is particularly popular in the hotel industry but strict regulations limit the use of some materials, having industrial products with a ‘hand-made finish’ opens the way for us to work with the concept of flaws, and surfaces with shade variation. As Gio Ponti taught us, ceramics can also be structural and suitable for use outdoors.”