On Oct. 27, Italian industrial designer and architect Gaetano Pesce stopped by Luminaire Chicago (301 W. Superior) and the Art Institute’s Rubloff Auditorium (280 S. Columbus) for a meet and greet and lecture. The event celebrated the 50th anniversary of Luminaire and its longtime relationship with B&B Italia, the retailer of Pesce’s iconic Up Series collection of brightly colored armchairs and eccentric furniture in the shape of the female body.
We talked with Pesce about the inspiration behind his sponge-like furniture and his success fusing architecture with industrial design.
SPLASH: Take us back: How did you come up with the idea for the Up Series collection?
GAETANO PESCE: The idea for the Up Series was born out of the knowledge of the suffering of the feminine universe. From a technical point of view, the idea was born while I was squeezing a sponge in my hand and noticed that once I released the grip, it would revert to its original shape. As you may know, the Up Series was sold in [vacuum-tight PVC packaging] and when the buyer [opened the package] the object would revert to its original volume.
S: How do you fuse practicality with unique design?
GP: Through [production and knowledge] of the current materials. One can find innovating methods that produce objects different from one another, [instead of] creating replicas.
S: How do you feel about the influence your collection has had on architecture and interior design?
GP: The difference between design and architecture is in size [and] scale, [but] their cultural motivations are the same. The modern movement, from which we derive, didn’t distinguish between the drawing of an object or of a building in a city. Sharing this similarity, the Up Series derives from another union of contents: Art in the past was always made by two values — one practical and one intellectual. [For] example, a portrait by a painter in an era where photography was not yet invented. If the painter made a realistic portrait [that resembled] a person who was also an artist, then the duality of it being utilitarian and intellectual was satisfied.
Photos courtesy of Luminaire