HandMade Design

The interest and curiosity aroused by the cover of Perini Journal No. 46 has led us to deepen our acquaintance with CasaLaboratorio, the studio belonging to the two young designers who created it. And we discovered that not all designers are “raptured” by digital: Vivianne and Christian still design and work with their hands...

Nico Zardo

She, Vivianne Medeiros, is Brazilian, born in Belo Horizonte; he, Christian Fregnan, is from Vigevano, in the province of Pavia, in Italy. They are both very young, in their early thirties, and met on a social network. Their first meeting was, romantically, in Paris, under the Eiffel Tower, where they decided to merge personal feelings and work interests, too, by setting up a design studio having the telling name of CasaLaboratorio. Vivianne: “I wanted the word Casa and he wanted the word Laboratorio. CasaLaboratorio is an expression of who we are, above and beyond a couple and professional partners. Each of us brings abilities that perfectly complement each other. We began by making products for ourselves. Today, CasaLaboratorio is ours but it also belongs to those who participate in our work or who stop by for a coffee.”

CHRISTIAN IS A MECHANICAL TECHNICIAN but he “tempered” this training with a period of apprenticeship in a renovation workshop where he developed a passion for working with materials that he defines “warmer” such as wood, cement, resins. “Of that world, I maintain the manual skills and the passion for utensils,” says Christian, and continues: “I distanced myself from mechanics for a few years, just long enough to understand that furnishings and design have always been latent passions. So I brushed up on technical abilities in using utensils, but this time focusing on wood. Almost for fun, I entered the world of renovation and learned to appreciate the lines of objects of yesteryear, at times mixing them with current trends, turning classic furniture into unique, timeless pieces. “It was a gradual process,” continues Christian. “Initially I interpreted the work of renovation as a personal enrichment, to enhance my capabilities and start thinking about a laboratory of my own. Later I understood that this wasn’t enough for me. But I didn’t want to become a carpenter, either. I wanted to create something more”.

VIVIANNE HAS A SOLID PREPARATION that includes a course in Garden Design, a degree in Internal Design, a Master in Design Management and one in Brand Communication. And then, says Vivianne: “Lots of other courses such as jewelry design, Territorial Systems Brands, and others, all with no apparent connection between them but that are now an indispensable part of who I am and of the way I design.” These studies aroused a strong interest in landscape visualization that, for now, becomes concrete through two ways of representing it. “Paper Territory was born from my desire to confer an identity to a given territory,” she continues. And adds: “The contours are like the digital impression of a landscape; every line, every level is part of its history, together with the passion for paper sculptures. MossGarden instead stems from a friend of mine’s desire to have a “pocket-size” garden for her tabletop. The species was chosen in order to give moss a different meaning, removing it from humid corners and placing it on the table as a valued element. Like the large-scale composition of the garden, this one is based on the architecture given by the cement it rests on. MossGarden is completed by a glass dome that encloses the elements inside an autonomous ecosystem. The next project whose concept is still being studied but that already has a name is called NO-vase, for totally autonomous species; it will be an irony, the second garden of the “pocket-size” series”.

IN TIMES LIKE OURS where, if something creative is not made using a good dose of digital programs is it considered out, Vivianne and Christian’s activity resting prevalently on manual skills, on rediscovering the trends of the past and, why not? - on a certain dose of poetry, seems to balance off a trend towards human factors that seemed forgotten. But their attitude is not an isolated example. Recently, visiting the many interesting proposals of Milan’s Fuori Salone del Mobile, surely indicative of today’s design status, there are many proposals by young designers aligned with these trends. Together with experiences influenced by new technologies, the event featured experimentations between art and design oriented towards the use of friendly materials such as paper and wood, on nature, the environment and the simple pleasure of conviviality. The feverish, unrestrained productivity seems to find humanistic counterparts.

“WHEN SOMEONE ASKS ME WHY I DO WHAT I DO”, says Christian, “I can’t give a precise answer: why that particular form, those proportions? It is a completely personal idea of beauty. We buy a painting because we like it, not because we need it. Sometimes I feel like creating objects that answer this need exclusively”. “CasaLaboratorio projects are our expression,” adds Vivianne, “what comes out of our hands or our head is the product of what we are today. Tomorrow we will already be different. When there is a problem coming from a customer, we must of course resolve it, keeping his or her objective terms in mind, but we also like it when it is less art and more design”.

CASALABORATORIO BREATHES AN INTERNATIONAL AIR. After spending some years in Milan, the natural homeland of design, it moved to Amsterdam several months ago, and here it found an environment rich in new spurs. But it is always ready to move again, anywhere in the world, to participate with its works at Design Week, at art expos and other occasions, matching itself up against other experiences. *

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