Despite regularly working for some of Italy’s leading furniture brands – among them Gallotti & Radice, Baxter and Tacchini – Studiopepe often feels apart from the world of industrial design. Its design philosophy is based on extensive iconographic research, a conceptual approach to objects and a touch of the unexpected, giving a rich context to everything it does. Its penchant for ancient cultures, symbolism and the history of objects manifests itself into shapes, material combinations and concepts.
‘Studiopepe are able to communicate the worlds of furniture and interior design through a highly contemporary language,’ says Eleonore Cavalli, art director of Italian furniture brand Visionnaire. Cavalli has been following the studio’s evolution for several years, and recently presented the first in a series of collections dedicated to the five senses, created for the brand by Studiopepe co-founders Arianna Lelli Mami and Chiara Di Pinto. ‘Their desire to explore ancient materials by giving them a new meaning brought us a lot closer and pushed us to start this collaboration,’ adds Cavalli.
The initial designs of the ongoing Empire of the Senses collection were presented at Salone del Mobile 2022. The ‘Parade’ lights are defined by hanging moulded glass tongues (for taste), while the ‘Blanche’ mirrors (representing sight and touch) feature a rounded leather frame and fringed curtain that conceals reflecting surfaces etched with the highly symbolic images of a snake, and a naked woman with the moon.
‘We’ve always been intrigued by the mirror as an object,’ explains Lelli Mami. ‘It’s a symbol of entering another dimension, dreamlike and intimate. When you walk past a mirror, you look at yourself. We liked the idea of masking it, adding a sense of mystery through a symbol to discover.’
‘Through our projects, we deal with design, but also with symbols: we like to investigate the symbolic aspects of the objects that surround us,’ says Di Pinto. Their work has often led them to delve deep into disciplines such as tarot, alchemy and astrology, which they incorporate into their designs. ‘They have been the basis of contemporary and modern psychology, and as designers, we think the psychological aspect of our relationship with objects – why we choose them and how we design the environment where we live – is very important,’ continues Lelli Mami. ‘So we look into these disciplines not in a purely scientific way, but with a more humanistic approach, and think about the ancient cultures that have tried to make sense of the imaginary.’
Seeing the mirrors at Salone del Mobile 2022, and in ensuing conversations with Cavalli, Lelli Mami and Di Pinto, Wallpaper* delved deeper into Studiopepe’s passion for the mystical and otherworldly. Inspired by their bringing together astrology and design, we asked them to write a 2023 horoscope for us.
‘It’s a small slice of knowledge of yourself and the world,’ adds Lelli Mami. ‘We are fascinated by this mysterious element of life, but also by the fact that it’s something that connects everything. Ancient philosophers have always talked about our connection to the whole. This is a small tile of something larger, but it can change your perspective.’
‘Blanche’ mirror, £7,713, by Studiopepe, for Visionnaire
studiopepedesign.it (opens in new tab)
visionnaire-home.com (opens in new tab)
A version of this article appears in the October 2022 Legends Issue of Wallpaper*, available in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today (opens in new tab)
Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.
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