WHAT: Installation and Artist Book (IT) - WHERE: Isola Design District, Via Confalonieri 21, Milano. - WHEN: 07.06-12.06.2022 - OPENING HOURS: 10.00-20.00- Author presence: every day 16.00-20.00- ORDER BOOK, Here.
Two men meet in an abandoned countryside in the shade of an olive tree, or perhaps in the shadow of a rusty sheet metal roof. The first man is a farmer. The second is a lawyer. The farmer needs help, and the lawyer works as a volunteer for an organization that reactivates land confiscated from the mafias and is there to advise the farmer on how to start a path to legality.
This scene is fictional, from Antonio Scarponi’s imaginative design process. But it is a clear image, resurfaced as he was working on a project for a mobile pavilion that could host this kind of activity in southern Italy, imagining this kind of encounter and this kind of relationship between two men or perhaps two brave women rebelling against their fate.
Scarponi wondered about the symbolic form of a chair, dropped into this context that he designed and where those two men or those two women, were supposed to meet. In this place, the Innocent Chair was born as a symbolic way not to accept the world but to transform the small part of it into our hands.
The Innocent Chair consists of an installation and a book containing the instructions to build ten dwelling devices, pursuing an idea of design that does not produce products but knowledge. Each object is a narrative that establishes an intimate relationship with the reader. Drawings, diagrams, and schematics will tell a visual poem of living made for things that one can build at one wish. Espousing this hypothesis, Antonio Scarponi searched for a humble and most easily worked construction material with which roofs, partitions, cellar doors, and the illusions and hopes of theatrical stages are built. Together with the Innocent Chair, the book contains instructions to build a hanger, a table, a bench, a deckchair, a couch, a table chair, a bookshelf, a cupboard, and a bed.
This "narrative manual" approach to design is, for Antonio Scarponi, a form of self-liberation that belongs to the archetypes of design. It can be traced back to the great treatise tradition initiated with De Architettura by Marcus Vitruvius Pollonius between 15 and 30 BC, where architecture is described as the art of building through which the civilization of humanity takes place. In modern times, however, this tradition can be traced back to the experience of Thoreau and his Walden as an early form of anti-capitalist protest (1854); the pioneering project of Louise Brigham and her Box Furniture (1910), where she provided instructions for building furniture elements made from shipping crates for Norwegian miners or, later, Thayaht's TuTa (1918) which stood for the motto tout-de-même, all the same, as a unisex, all-activity, all-weather garment, designed to be self-packaged with paper patterns to be disseminated through the newspapers of the time. Then again, Rietveld and his Red and Blue Chair (1917); Enzo Mari and his Autoprogettazione (1974), which is almost coeval with Papanek's Design for the Real World (1971) reflections, or again Yona Friedman's lifelong research and numerous books, to mention a few and to acknowledge a tradition in modern and contemporary design discourse beyond the bare conception of products.
The Innocent Chair and other stories of life, freedom, and design include a collection of ten objects for living that can be made by anyone, anywhere, following illustrated directions. It is a bare collection following the idea that there is no such thing as a design for the rich and a design for the poor, a democratic and an authoritarian design, critical and uncritical design, engaged and uncommitted design, political and apolitical design, sustainable and unsustainable design. These qualities define the nature of design today as a poetic form that infuses objects with the soul. Ten things, ten stories, to inhabit as props our daily drama or comedy of which each of us can be its author.
The installation has been realized for the first time at Konzepthaus Laboratorium, Thun, Switzerland in March 2022. For the Milano Design Week 2022, the project will be presented and reinstalled in a new version in via Confalonieri 21 in one of the venues of the Isola Design District.