The 26th issue is the Vietnamese-American designer’s most intimate project to date, inviting readers to explore the idea of home and understand the internal narratives of the shy designer.
Via Piave 33: rethinking the ordinary
Words by Jordan Anderson
The way in which we as humans interact with everyday objects such as clothes, tables, or an ordinary bar of soap is not something we often bother to contemplate. How we move around them, the space they occupy in relation to us, and even our reactions to seeing them are simple observations usually taken for granted on a daily basis. This exact trail of existential thought led multidisciplinary artist Alessandro Spaggiari (Ale Apai) toward his next creative project at his Milanese studio in 2020. Encouraging us all to take a step outside of ourselves and maintain a present relationship with our routines during even the most fleeting moments of our existence. Dubbed Via Piave 33, the initiative is an exploration into the depths of human consciousness through the recontextualisation and restyling of everyday objects and concepts.
Each project proposes an alternative perspective that serves as an invitation to reassess our perceptions of reality. The brand’s inaugural project “Nice To Read You” was an investigation into the digital landscape. With a tool like social media ingrained into the quotidian, how can we objectively see ourselves and the identities we’ve curated through the lens of an Instagram grid? The series features portraits of individuals whose attributes of their identity were displayed in writing and symbols on their images, an X-ray of the persona.
Throughout the project, this outsider approach also takes the form of objects, clothing, and even food. A towel, bottle of mineral water, and soap bar are packaged in a kit along with an affirmational mantra, while a collection of garments is imbued with armour-like protection. In discussion with the brand’s founder, Alessandro Spaggiari, we glimpse into the process of creating this aggregate universe of experiential lifestyle products.
How would you define your practice and VIA PIAVE 33?
I have many interests but essentially I’m a person who enjoys trying different things out in the most practical way. I enjoy learning by doing and don’t really know how to define myself. I have a quite conceptual approach and a foundation in graphic design, art direction, and a bit of product design but I always learned the most by experimenting in different disciplines.
This wide range of interests is the genesis of VIA PIAVE 33 and the potential to create a universe or system that welcomes the contemporary individual by serving them a series of products that improve their lives or experiences with meaningful sentiments. I genuinely believe future brands will function as a place where consumers become users with active roles in the brand. Not simply purchasing a garment or an object but aligning with specific brands in order to participate in a movement or change. It’s important to understand that today, decisions and preferences create material differences.
Why did you choose to explore digital identities in your introductory project?
Our projects always start with the concept of humanity and all the aspects that encompass it. I see the digital realm as an interesting and essential theme to study, anthropologically, exploring how the internet connects society and personalities. From the outside looking in, we investigate the digital world as an inhabited environment with its own rules— the identities we create online take on a life of their own. A fish doesn’t understand that it lives in the water until you take it out of the water. We are living quite similarly in reality, we embraced a new digital world without enough criticism. It is interesting to analyze this sphere while focusing on its inherent relationship with contemporary humanity.
What is the purpose of the Purification Kit ?
In response to our first study on digital identities we wanted to offer a break from our hyper-digitalized world, a moment of introspection through the very simplistic ritual…washing your face and metaphorically washing away your digital mask. The tools in the kit are minimal and familiar: an organic soap bar, a bottle of tonic water, and a face towel. These simple elements imbue new symbolism when observed intentionally as daily performance, complete with guided instructions. We aimed to make a simple gesture and elevate it as something very special, allowing people to appreciate the simplicity of things and the beauty that resides in simple actions.
What inspired the silhouettes for your latest capsules that venture into fashion?
For Polar the silhouettes that we created came out of a lot of editing, curation, and dialogue between the team that started from simple vintage garments. We tried to take the best aspect of every piece, elevate it, and make it more interesting in the contemporary context. Creating interesting garments with a strong conceptual aspect that are also very comfortable to wear.The puffy concept is another very important component of the capsule which came from an old children’s sweater with a cartoon graphic. This item instantly gave us a sensation of comfort, protection, and intimacy. It is simultaneously a commentary on global warming and the functionality or layering used by the population living in very cold habitats, and how they live in harmony with freezing weather and unrelenting winter elements.
What is the most important consideration when creating a capsule?
When we create something we always start from a concept or an interpretation of the contemporary world, something that we feel is relevant. Aesthetics are also a very important aspect for our brand. We really want people to appreciate the value of something well made and beautiful. It is not about subjectivism, we seek a more nature inspired beauty. In a consumer-driven world I think that it is very important to create pieces that people really want to keep in their lives, everything needs to be meaningful. As a lifestyle brand we want to offer a curated position for contemporary individuals, promoting reflection on life and the world through garments and objects. It is never just about the object itself, there is always something more behind it. We have access to all kinds of objects and garments. We think that the difference resides in making meaningful things and generating dialogues through them.
How does humanity influence your approach?
VIA PIAVE 33 started as a human scale brand, we want to make things for the contemporary human-being in an aim to improve their lives by offering meaningful garments, objects and experiences. For us, fashion and design with a strong sociological component is the only way to do it; we are making products for human beings.
I personally like to observe people – what we like, what we hate, how we feel.. everything is related to a very complicated structure of information and emotion. Our collective DNA is constantly evolving through time. Contemporarily, I like to see what happens right now. Related to the past and in perspective to the future, it is just about perceiving the details that define who we are today and who we will be tomorrow. We are quite unpredictable by nature but society is a very complex machine structured and connected in a very technical way.
The Swedish artist’s monographic exhibition at David Zwirner Paris ponders heartbreak and nostalgia whilst blurring the textures of reality.
The American artist muses on the light of the end of the tunnel during this prolific period between his exhibition at David Zwirner and his sculpture for Frieze.