Ceramics and glass? Copper and Wood? Italian designer Matteo Zorzenoni tests the limits of everyday materials by combining them with unexpected partners. The result is often surprising, but always elegant.
Italian designer Matteo Zorzenoni’s oeuvre is all about testing limits. Whether it is in designs that bring together two diametrically different materials (glass and ceramic, for example) or challenging the fundamentals of weight and shape with unusual patterns and balances, Zorzenoni is carving a niche for himself in the design world. His customers include Cappellini, Mercedes Benz, Replay, Alcantara, Bosa Ceramiche and Miniforms.
Born in Treviso, Italy in 1978, Zorzenoni has been working as an industrial designer since 2002. His works have been exhibited at the Venice International Architecture Biennale, the London Design Festival and the Saint Etienne Biennial of Art and Design, among others. Zorzenoni was also a consultant for Fabrica, the communications research studio founded by Benetton in 1994. Here, he worked with the respected Spanish designer Jaime Hayon, a collaboration that is on-going since 2004.
Zorzenoni’s experiments with materials and their innate properties have led to some interesting and unusual designs. The Conica Collection (2012) of side tables are made from lacquered wood and lacquered copper and was exhibited at the Edition of Nine in Milan where nine designers were each paired with a local craftsman who specialised in a particular material. In this case, Zorzenoni was paired with Vanzo Ferro Battuto, a traditional blacksmith who uses modern techniques in his work to create contemporary furniture and wrought-iron products. The Duke table (Prototype 2011) made of natural walnut and lacquered wood is a simple and elegant piece of furniture, versatile in its uses.
Simple yet evocative is the line of Circus low tables (2012) made from lacquered wood and resin. The simple design reminds you of the circus and all the memories that it evokes. These would be lovely in a child’s room or even in a contemporary space for a touch of whimsy.
The ‘Path’ collection of screens was made for public spaces such as bars and restaurants where with their simple addition an extraordinary sense of seclusion is created, one that you might get in a ‘reserved’ enclosure. Made out of wood and Alcantara, a “unique and innovative covering material”, the Path has many possibilities – from privacy screens in restaurants and parks, or even a playful rendering of a maze, where screens get lined up in several different formations.
Zorzenoni’s designs for vases have received special recognition. His ‘Crystal Ball’ (2011) combined marble and Pyrex with the translucent spheres balancing delicately on the granite base. A more recent version of the Crystal Ball was made for Cappellini, with a wooden base instead of a marble one.
The Ninfea Vase is named after the Water Lily. Made out of ceramic and glass, its elegant pink tones remind one of a ballerina waiting in the wings to go on stage. Contrastingly, the Meccano series of vases is a bold and striking set of vases reminiscent of traditional blue and white pottery. There is nothing floral or delicate about this range, though. Strong stripes pack in a punch and make the pieces stand out.
Zorzenoni has a range of lighting as well. The ‘Warm Up’ lamp conjured out of thin metal rods and glass spheres was inspired by the warm-up routines practised by dancers. Both the Warm Up lamp and the Ninfea Vase were created for an exhibition to celebrate 30 years in business of the Milanese clothing store Dimensionze Danza. Called ‘Pirouette’, the exhibition invited five designers to create objects that interpreted the pirouette movement.
The Heavy Light (2010) Marble Lamp does not look like a lamp at all. A simple marble rectangle with a base, the light adds a stark contemporary touch to the interiors. The Trumpet Light (2012), on the other hand, has no plans to blend into the background. Made with borosilicate glass and a ceramic ‘trumpet’ inside (that hides the bulb), the Trumpet is a dramatic hanging light. The transparency of the glass contrasts beautifully with the handmade pottery, showcasing this juxtaposition of materials that Zorzenoni is becoming known for.
Apart from furniture and lighting, Zorzenoni’s other notable designs include Tropicana, a mirror for Miniforms; Mrs-Miss, a set of two Pyrex carafes in different colours, that suggest the shapes of, well, a young girl and a more mature woman; the In-lay Chopping board, an ingenious beech and wooden two-in-one chopping board and the Parchi di Mestre, a series of bold public signs created while working with Fabrica.
Zorzenoni’s work has certainly evolved over the years that he has been designing. Some things, however, have remained consistent – his passion for experimenting with materials and his now trademark combination of using different materials in surprising and unexpected ways.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy The Designer