Photo courtesy© Associazione Wonderlake Como ets
Photo © Andrea Butti
Villa Salazar and Sheraton Hotel photo © Robert Mawdsley
Photo © Maria Butti (detail of "Forte Fibra" tapestry)
The fifth edition of the Festival, which took place from 16 to 24 September 2023, celebrated the two thousandth anniversary of Pliny the Elder, occurred in Como in 23 AD, and chose nature as its underlying theme.
An event that embraced the union between art, nature and design, exploring the mix between tradition and innovation.
The presence of the Contemporary Tapestries and the i-Mesh "fabric" was included in this context.
We asked Alberto Fiorenzi to explain the meaning of the collection and the link between it and the work of i-Mesh.
“To explain the link between the Tapestries and i-Mesh, we thought of an architectural installation on Villa Olmo’s façade.
The exhibition of three large panels pays homage to i-Mesh’s most monumental urban and dynamic installation to date: fifty-three thousand square meters of retractable roofing embedded in the urban fabric of Expo City in Dubai.
The three panels, discarded at the time due to minor defects, were reused for this new mission.
Adapted in size and appearance, they are a prime example of how we work at i-Mesh. We design our production to be long-lasting, and we may not need to recycle a piece of i-Mesh until 20-30 years after it is made, or it might not even be necessary depending on its usage.
This does not take away from the fact that whoever owns it may get tired of it or move and want to use it differently.
If possible, they may modify it or ask us to adapt it to the new situation.
In fact, we prefer not to recycle, but to reuse a material that is very durable. This policy helps to keep the energy cost of our product low.
The sustainability of a given material is measured in terms of the energy required to create it and to dispose of it.
We discuss these themes with the authors and involve them in the creation of the material.
By accepting our invitation, they are forced to immerse themselves in our world of zero waste, zero release into the environment, zero stock and energy contained at the lowest level.
In practice, we make them participate and be aware of the choice of our product to express themselves artistically, but also to express themselves in their architectural works. Our hope is that working with i-Mesh will serve as an inspiration for collaborating with all material manufacturers. In other words, that architects are aware of the sustainability of everything they choose to carry out their profession.
But the connections are many. Contemporary Tapestries are our visual research laboratory. They are the paradigm of what we do on a daily basis with architects who choose to use i-Mesh. The creatives we invite to design a tapestry are Architects or Artists, and we ask them to imagine a work made of thread. This request is a challenge for us each time, as each of them “pushes” us beyond our production limits.
Very often, what we have experienced in manufacturing tapestries is applied to the surfaces we create in architecture.
One example for all: Ico Migliore likes to create tapestries whose density is variable. Ico believes that i-Mesh is an ever- changing material because its transparency puts it into dialogue with its surroundings. The surface is therefore the protagonist, but it is part of a context in dialogue. The variable he applies to his tapestries is, therefore, the density gradient.
His work has inspired us in a very technical application. When we study architectural facades with the aim of creating comfort in interiors, our surfaces have a variable density. Such studies provide a strategy to create screens with density only in the areas where the sun’s rays directly hit the window.
As Werner Sobek claims in the film “Softness. i-Mesh. Designing the city”: with i-Mesh you only use the material where needed.
The advantage is clear: our shading blocks glare and excessive heat in some areas, but still lets natural light into the building from other areas. Such a strategy leads to energy savings.
Marco Ferreri’s tapestries are called ‘Forte Fibra’ and have taught us how to manage the reflectance of our raw materials. Mineral fibers react to light in unexpected ways, and the way they are placed makes his tapestries something you never tire of looking at.
Giovanna Latis’ tapestry pushed us to study how colors mix to create new ones and led us to introduce melange fibers.
And so forth. Each tapestry has its own story and making them has always taught us something.
How can “Contemporary Tapestries” be conceived? Artistic research or High Design? My curatorship has been very careful about this dualism. I think the collection contains both pieces of Art and Design.
They are pieces of Art when the development of the tapestry is in line with the author’s personal research. For this reason, Art is the piece by Graphic Surgery, which has always expressed themselves with the same visual language by painting urban walls. High Design is the piece by Marco Ferreri, who develops a variety of themes, each time using a different material.
The creation of a tapestry is a source of pride for our craftsmen, halfway between artisan and technologist, because only the most skilled and passionate can work on it.
Also in the production of i-Mesh, they are aware that their work serves to create visual, light, and thermal comfort, to create more livable and beautiful environments and cities. This way of working too, is Sustainability.
Soft Architecture is our strategy, the mission spoken of in the film “Softness. i-Mesh. Designing the city” produced by i-Mesh, a true Manifesto, in which architects are once again the protagonists, explaining how a better world can be created”.