The Italians are known for doing many things right: suits, shoes and food, among others. But they are also ahead of the game when it comes to furniture design and lighting, a tricky aspect of interiors that requires not only the mind of an engineer but the captive eye of a true artist.
The makers behind the brand Catellani & Smith, in addition to Melogranoblu, have pieces that highlight the importance of light in a home, and how a purposeful necessity has become a purposeful aesthetic object in one’s space.
Catellani is the namesake and designer of his lightning brand Cattelani & Smith -him and his horse, that is.
“Coming to create my name, I didn’t want to call it Catellani Lighting, it sounded too boring; but I had horses, one called Smith. So I thought it would be funny and battish to start off the relationship of my product with my company with such a name, he said.
Affable by nature, Catellani’s designs are just as easy to acquaint one’s self with and enjoy as the company of their designer. Starting 20 years ago with a few models which he produced for his own small business, “with no desire to mass produce my designs, Catellani was stunned when pictures of his lamps were spotted by some Germans and he was immediately requested to show at the Frankfurt design fair in 1989. Over 1,400 pieces were sold at the fair – much to his surprise.
“I thought this is unbelievable, and from this point, I’ve never stopped. I started alone, and it is a funny situation – I have no ability for designing; I need materials in my hand so I can make the first prototype.
Catellani’s success stems from his sophisticated and educated outlook on lighting. He has a philosophical approach, producing concepts that play with the question of how light works in one’s environment and how to project light differently.
His first collection focused on the relationship between man and lighting objects themselves. His second collection, entitled “Luci D’Oro (Light of Gold), is about the concept of the refraction of light against gold and bronze metal within the piece, causing it to appear slightly sanctified.
“This theme I developed so that I can talk with the light and not the lamp itself, he said.
He is a true artist, replicating the way in which both dim and bright light works and producing hundreds of models in subsequent series, all with poetic names such as “Lucenera (Black Light). “My creativity is natural. I don’t look inside me or look at other work, I know the material of the lamps and I’ve sold a lot of lamps and so I have a competence for material.
“I have an understanding of proportions, immediately when I make something, perhaps whether I like it or not, it’s harmonious [in form], Catellani said.
And just as Catellani creates pieces now respected as a medium of art, the makers behind Melogranoblu also create lighting pieces that straddle the line between pure function and sheer creativity.
Massimo Crema and Ermanno Rocchi are the brains and hands behind Melogranoblu, a brand which launched in 1997 with the duo’s first collection of “bright forms, using blown Murano glass.
Today, Crema and Rocchi personally design and supervise the production of their ornamental lighting fixtures alongside a team of Italian craftsmen.
Their delicate designs are powerful in their ability to create an interior’s ambiance.
“We worked in theater design and wanted to transfer that to the house of Melogranoblu. Light is simply an accessory for the glass, the first material for us is the shape of the glass, Crema sai.
Having produced two collections, each is named to represent metaphorically the spirit of the respective design.
Hydra is the name of the largest constellation of stars in the sky, and each design within that collection is named after a star within that constellation.
The result is just as enigmatic as the secrets of the stars.
Fragile cylindrical spheres, and long tubes made from various colored glass hang suspended in clusters and groups.
There is something modern in creating organic shapes that were inspired from pin pricks of light in the sky. Yet the Opera collection is far more dramatic in shape and texture.
Inspired by Italian Opera, and from old Venice, tassels and chords hang from Venetian lampshades of glass, encasing the light source and creating an ethereal setting. Had Romeo and Juliet decorated their own love nest, it seems that pieces from the Opera collection would have been most fitting.
“You already have in your [Egyptian] history a relationship with light. You have a lot of light, and you love the dark with the light. You have a good sensibility for the point of light, and we also do the same but in a contemporary situation. It’s very important for us to give to the ambience some point of light, Crema said.
Art of Form opened its showroom on June 6 at Designopolis, the new furniture strip mall on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road. The sprawling store brings together high-end furniture brands from Italy, Spain and the Netherlands all under one roof.