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Come Stai? Bottega Veneta & Gaetano Pesce at Design Miami

in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist

Come Stai? chairs at Bottega Veneta SS2023, Milan

Part of an immersive environment conceived for the Bottega Veneta SS2023 fashion show designed by Matthieu Blazy, the Italian architect and design pioneer Gaetano Pesce has created a collection of chairs entitled Come Stai? — currently on show at Design Miami until December 4th, 2022. Come Stai? consists of resin-impregnated fabric chairs in 400 unique colour combinations, as a tribute and celebration of diversity and individuality. Scribbled in resin on the set of the SS2023 collection in Milan, Gaetano affirms, “Questo è un tributo alla diversita, la diversita è quello che realizza la persona e la rende unica,” which translates to “This is a tribute to diversity, diversity is what fulfills the person and makes one unique.”

On the occasion of the Come Stai? exhibition at Design Miami, Bottega Veneta has released an accompanying monographic book documenting the encounter between the two design talents, their production process, and a catalogue of the 400 unique chairs. The numerous variations, including figurative doodles, question and exclamation marks, smiles and sunrises are photographed against a sterile white background, putting Pesce’s whimsical touch on full display. Inside, the Italian designer joins Swiss critic Hans Ulrich Obrist in a long-form interview revealing details of the project from its earlier iteration as a ‘giant piano keyboard’ to the ideological foundations of the Italian designer’s opus. Also entitled Come Stai?, the book takes an asymmetric trapezoidal form and each ribbed textile cover is splashed with resin, mimicking the sensory and singular qualities of the chairs, which are now both available for purchase.

Below is an exclusive excerpt of the conversation between Matthieu Blazy, Gaetano Pesce and Hans Ulrich Obrist that took place on Sunday, September 26th at the via Orobia showspace in Milan, the day after Bottega Veneta’s SS2023 fashion show.

Come Stai? (2022) published by Mousse Publishing

 

Gaetano Pesce on Milan, diversity and the Bottega Veneta SS2023 show…
In the air there is a strange energy, something very evil that wants to create one world for everybody. A world where everyone is the same and no one has the right to be different. It reminds me of one hundred years ago when the ‘International Style’ in architecture was created, allowing architects to do the same architecture everywhere. Maybe for that time it was a good moment, but not today. Today, if you are a creative like Matthieu, me and others, you are here to create diversity. Places need diversity. Milan does not need bigger skyscrapers in the centre, because those skyscrapers are everywhere. Milan needs particular architecture. And Milan needs the fashion that [Matthieu Blazy] created yesterday.

Matthieu Blazy on meeting Gaetano Pesce…
The first time with Gaetano, it was a dream, because at some point you need to meet your heroes. It was a super nice day. There were cookies on the table. and I brought some images with me that I thought were inspiring. There were African masks, there was Umberto Boccioni. All these pictures were the starting point of our discussion. Immediately what we talked about was the idea of uniqueness in diversity and its ability of creating a beautiful cast of characters. At the same time, at Bottega, I try not to design for one woman or one man, rather women and men.

I didn’t see it as a collaboration with Gaetano, because the word ‘collaboration’ did not function for me. I make clothes, bags and shoes but Gaetano does a different type of design and landscapes. I thought that we could juxtapose our worlds instead, so we both stay individuals as well.

Gaetano Pesce on designing Come Stai? for Bottega Veneta…
We decided to do a chair without structure, but because Bottega Veneta mainly works with fabric, it’s a chair made of fabric impregnated with resin. It was an interesting little discovery, because it allows you to make the chair in a very manual way, which lends itself to the idea of our diversity. Collaboration is difficult when people are the same. It’s very boring and there is nothing to say. When you are different, you can exchange, you can have different points of view and the brain becomes richer. This is the root of creativity – enriching the brain more rich and discovering the future, and allowing this future to become the result. And I think we did that very well.

Matthieu Blazy on the process of creating Come Stai? …
We met many times over the last few months and each time I decided to bring people from my team, even people that were not directly linked to the project. There were people from the fabric team, there were people from the image team, and basically it was an ongoing talk. We tried certain things and sometimes it didn’t work. Gaetano showed me some ideas and I was tapping back into the collection as well. As we were designing the collection, Gaetano was working on the crazy chairs and it was almost like a mind-sketch. We had many great times in Gaetano’s studio and also outside of it. There were many dinners with many bottles of wine, and it was extremely joyful.

Matthieu Blazy on the project’s name…
Gaetano came to me and he said, “Mattieu, when you think of me, you have to think about me asking you, ‘Come stai?’’ And you have to think about the answer, ‘tutto bene!’ He didn’t phrase it as a question, rather a positive word that was very empathetic. For me, it encapsulated our story. If one day we do a stool, we’ll call it ‘tutto bene’.

Hans Ulrich Obrist, on Gaetano’s chairs…
We’re all sitting on these amazing Bottega chairs, which made me think of all your previous chairs, for example, the Pratt chair. Even then, there was this idea of difference depending on the chemical formula. Can you talk a little bit about your history with chairs?

Gaetano Pesce on his iconic ‘Pratt’ chair…
Pratt was a chair that was done in nine iterations, each with a different formula. The first one was so soft that when it came out of the mold it collapsed, like a body without the bones. The second stayed upright, as soon as you touched it, it collapsed. Some that are very uncomfortable because it’s rigid and you’d break your bones. The first one is art, because you see this body on the floor. Number four and five are very comfortable. Then once again there were uncomfortable, non-functional ones that became pieces of art. It’s a dialogue between an object and the formula you set which makes it art.

HUO on Come Stai? …
Coming back to these chairs we are sitting on…there are many different channels. There’s the one-coloured chair, there’s the double-coloured chair, there’s the three-coloured chairs, and there’s some chairs with figurative drawings on them. Can you talk a little bit about these different chairs?

Gaetano Pesce on Come Stai?
What I had in mind was a production of chairs that could not be done in a traditional company, because they work with machines that always do the same thing. But in this case, we are not machines, we are people. I thought that we had to do a chair using the material of this company, and it was really a tribute. We couldn’t have machines because they repeat, so we used people, and everyone did it differently. I don’t know exactly in which way, but this is the future.

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