The design world turns its sights to Southern Italy this week with the opening of Edit Napoli (7-9 June), a newly anointed design fair by curators and cultural forces Domitilla Dardi, design curator of Rome’s MAXXI museum, and gallerist Emilia Petruccelli. Focussing solely on artisans and designer-makers, Edit has brought together a diverse group of independent designers, small-scale manufacturers and craftspeople. The fair takes up residence in Complesso di San Domenico Maggiore, a 13th-century church complex tucked deep within the historic centre.
‘In general, many fairs are dedicated just to collectable design,’ Dardi explains of her and Petruccelli’s motivation to inaugurate Edit Napoli. ‘Not that this type of editorial design doesn’t deserve attention, but when I researched into other fair formats, I didn’t find the same kind of match between a great attention to the product and the real possibility of making business [as an independent designer].’
Dardi explained that with Edit she wanted to give designers a platform to communicate their work on a larger scale, without relying on a middleman, like a gallery, to do the legwork for them. ‘In the context of a big design week you don’t have the specific attention to listen to all of the stories behind the work,’ she continues, ‘because this kind of design really deserves the time to hear them.’
Dardi and Petruccelli chose Naples due to the city’s fertile artisan tradition, which was largely incorporated into the fair. For the in-house Made in Edit series (unveiled during Edit Napoli’s announcement in October) the duo paired up-and-coming designers from Italy and abroad with local artisans and producers. ‘There are a lot of artisans that need designers and a lot of designers that are interested in the heritage of the artisans for their projects,’ Dardi describes of the idea behind the collaboration.
Beirut-based Khaled El Mays, Italian duo Faberhama and Venezuelan designer Reinaldo Sanguino were matched with Naples-based manufacturers, who were tasked with translating the designers’ one-off collectible works into replicable series. Sanguino, for example, installed himself at ceramics producer Ceramiche Fes in Minori for an entire month, working with the artisans and technicians to recreate his signature hand-painted vessels. ‘This residency is not just a beautiful holiday,’ Dardi notes, ‘it’s very much a real project. What the makers relay to the designers is the possibility to reproduce their work in a series.’
The curators also roped in some of the country’s largest materials manufacturers to participate. Amsterdam-based BCXSY was paired with century-old Vicenza area stone producer Laboratorio Morseletto, who had previously worked with David Chipperfield on his Cava Arcari project, an auditorium within Morselleto’s quarry caves. ‘Morseletto are great translators of architects’ visions, but for this project, they wanted to create their own editions,’ says Dardi. The result is a clever offering of desks and consoles in pale yellow and grey Vicenza stone.
‘We wanted to make the fair in Napoli because it really is the cultural capital of the Mediterranean’
The much talked about young design crew Ladies Room Collective is present with new work in collaboration with local design firm Spazio Materiae. The group delved into the rich history of Neapolitan mythology for the exhibition’s inspiration. A small collection of kinetic sculptures, tapestries and mobiles make use of materials that range from porous volcanic rock to green-hued copper, which had been corroded with sea foam.
Adding to the Southern Italian influence, Milan-based Domenico Orefice shows Le Terre, a group of terracotta and raw earth vessels that came from research into centuries-old Mediterranean handicraft traditions. The red earth, sourced from around Brindisi, is moulded into shape and air dried – Orefice’s take on one of the oldest building traditions in the world.
French designer Constance Guisset is also showing a collection of her self-produced products, a series of lights inspired by concepts that ranged from the set design of dance productions to the movements of the solar system. Elsewhere, independent designers like Nika Zupanc, Allegra Hicks and Flatwig Studio are on view, as well as larger-scale producers like Bitossi Ceramiche and brass producer Ghidini 1961.
‘We wanted to make the fair in Napoli because it really is the cultural capital of the Mediterranean,’ Dardi says. ‘You have the crossover of so many cultures, but at the same time, you have the character of the south. They are so open, so incredibly welcoming in a very deep sense.’ §