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issue 16 - October/November 2013
CURVE magazine cover October/November 2013


The Visual Art and Dance Fusion Performances of Antonio Pio Saracino

The works of Italian architect and designer Antonio Pio Saracino give a whole new meaning to the term 'moving experience'. His chairs are alive. They speak to your visual senses and dance to the rhythmic beat of your body. No, seriously, they do!

His four-petal shaped Blossom Chair is a figure-hugging structure that closes when someone sits on it and springs back when vacant. You can feel the pulse in his Leaf Chair as well, the 'veins' of which follow a curvilinear form, thickening and becoming trapezoidal at the points where the pressure of the body is the greatest. His Modular Chair, meanwhile, rocks this name for a reason: conceived with the structural logic of a living system, the design object flexes and reacts with the user as with the structure of many natural forms. You have just stepped inside the organic universe of Antonio Pio Saracino, where everyone becomes an agile dancer.

On reviewing his oeuvre and the different strands of his practice, it's hardly surprising that Saracino, who works out of Rome and New York City, is an award-winning designer and architect. He has been recognized as one of the Top Ten Italian Architects under 36 years old by the New Italian Blood Award and he's also been knighted as one of the 25 most interesting trendsetters to ever walk the Earth. But Saracino is not letting the accolades and grand-scale commissions get to his head. He is, however, wearing that as a badge of honor. 'I try to do good work that can positively affect people's lives; that is my best award,' he remarks.

Looking at such works as the Modular Chair and Molecular Chair, itʼs self-explicable why youʼve been named ’one of the worldʼs 25 most interesting trendsetters’. At a time when everything has been done and redone in the design world, how do you keep your voice fresh, and what keeps the ingenious ideas flowing?
In order to keep a fresh voice, you should not be looking too closely at the work of others. You should focus instead on developing your own vision.

Your Ray Sofa and Ray Chair are design marvels, yet they don’t seem like the most comfy chairs in the world. Do you sometimes compromise functionality for the sake of form or aesthetics?
The shapes of functionality are part of a cultural mindset. To respond to an evolving culture, we create new things, and functionality gets reshaped by the innovations.

Peopleʼs jaws drop when viewing your Cervo Chair. What was going through your mind when you were creating this design?
I wanted to create an object that resonates with nature. This is why the silhouette recalls the ribcage and antlers of a deer.

There is an organic pattern in many of your designs, such as Blossom Chair and Leaf Chair. Do you habitually submerse yourself in nature or do you get subconscious cues from the natural world?
It's the latter! We are not separated from nature. We are one with nature. Our 'human product' is nature in her constructive ability.

What is your design credo?
Design is the place of continuity between humans and nature; it is a place of integration with nature. Good design is intuitive, universal and timeless. It creates an empathic bond with humans both functionally and aesthetically.

Letʼs talk about the 2010-11 Formula One and Moto GP World Championship trophy. What was the coolest thing about this commission?
It is a major honor to be asked to redesign one of the oldest and most important logos of Italian culture - the Eni logo is deeply integrated in our culture. When I saw that trophy during the Formula One Award Ceremony, I was filled with pride

You have yet to design a car. What is your dream car project?
A new Ferrari!

Earlier this year, your ’City Within’ installation for Bloomingdaleʼs-Dubai, in line with Design Days Dubai, wowed audiences. What did it take to create this imposing piece?
It was a philosophical work. It was about creating a metaphor for a city of the third millennium, a city made with immaterial quality, where its shape is made with ephemeral space. It is the digital city that inhabits all our physical cities.

If Beirut Design Week were to ask you to contribute next year, would you accept?
Of course, I would be honored. I find Lebanese creativity today to be very interesting. One of my showrooms in New York City (Mondo Collection) is owned by a Lebanese, and I have been closely exposed to the work of many other Lebanese designers whom I have great respect for.

What are your favorite architectural landmarks in each of Italy and New York?
In Italy, the Pantheon Roman Temple; in New York City, the Chrysler Building.

Some of the things youʼre looking forward to in 2014 are...
Hopefully more projects in the Middle East.

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