At Fuorisalone 2022, Galerie Philia will present the collectible design debut by Milanese designers Arianna Lelli Mami and Chiara Di Pinto of Studiopepe. Titled ‘Temenos’ (a name signifying Temple Court, the circular sacred area found in ancient Greek temples), the collection stems from the designers’ ongoing anthropological research and is inspired by the objects collected by the Luigi Pigorini National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography in Rome.

Although this is the first collection of collectible design by the pair, Lelli Mami and Di Pinto have often employed the codes of the genre in what they call ‘manifesto projects’: experimental and research-based design works that over the years have set the creative tone of the studio. Of these, the 2016 ‘Ossimori’ collection featured sculptural objects (lamps, mirrors) exploring future archeology, and the project’s research and aesthetic planted the seed for ‘Temenos’. 

Studiopepe Designers Arianna Lelli Mami and Chiara di Pinto working in their studio
Arianna Lelli Mami (left) and Chiara Di Pinto (right) at work on the ‘Temenos’ collection

The ‘Temenos’ collection includes objects whose aesthetic references ancient objects and architecture, imbued with modern functionality. In the studio’s translation, thrones become armchairs, altars morph into more modern tables, the duo’s design canon somewhere between the original reference and the modern equivalent. The vastness of their research can also be seen in a series of smaller objects that include the ‘Menhir’ candleholder and ‘Canopic’ vases, respectively referencing Bronze-age monoliths and Egyptian artefacts. ‘As we study and learn more about these cultures, we discover connections between beliefs, collective imagination, archetypes – they are like threads connecting humanity,’ says Lelli Mami. ‘This is what design is based on: objects that everyone can understand.’

The primitive, raw aesthetic of the designs’ forms is contrasted with the sophisticated material palette and exquisite craftsmanship (created in collaboration with Italian artisans): translucent onyx is paired with charred wood, hand-turned terracotta, mirrored metal and white plaster. Lelli Mami describes the overall aesthetic as ‘sculptural primitive with a decorative refinement’, each piece combining an iconic, typically Studiopepe look with a cultured background. 

Table with raw materials and design models by Studiopepe
Moodboard by Studiopepe

The project will be presented in Milan through an immersive installation based on a circular temple, with interactive elements including a film produced by the studio. 

‘Studiopepe’s organic sculptural designs, entirely made by hand, highlight the beauty of imperfection in a finished work,’ says Galerie Philia co-founder Ygaël Attali, who worked closely with the designers on the project. ‘They have produced a powerful ensemble of pieces that stand out through thematic and aesthetic coherence.’ §