Inspired by the art of still life (among other things), Italian designer Antonio Arico creates elegant products that fit well in your home. For him, design encompasses many different values including rationality of objects and people’s emotions.
Inspiration can take many forms. For Italian designer Antonio Arico, the beauty of still life and juxtaposition of various shapes to make a coherent whole inspires him to create functional yet beautiful products.
After his post-graduate studies in Italy, Arico studied Metal and Jewellery design in Scotland, Product design in Australia and traditional furniture design in Spain. This global exposure seeps into his work, adding an interesting dimension.
Arico now has a studio in Milan and divides his time between that city and Reggio, where he comes from. He has designed products for major brands including Alessi, Seletti and Barilla.
Studying furniture design influenced several pieces like the Dumba Chair (2012) and the Little Stool (2013). The Dumba Chair is “cute, disproportionate and has big ears”. The old-style chair has dark wood and at first glance, looks like a chair from your grandparents’ living room. A closer look, however, shows you it is anything but. The curve of the back rest and the supple finish of the seat make this a super-comfortable chair.
Taste of Wood is another interesting take on regular furniture. Billed as a “eulogy to olive oil” this table and chair set made from olive wood has a generous space in the centre of the table where a real live olive tree can stand. Thus you can sit on olive wood, under a real tree while you enjoy your fresh olives and olive oil, completing the circle.
The Little Stool is a tribute to Christmas, celebrated with much emotion and gaiety in Italy. Arico wanted to “design an object full of memories and significance, something that was simple and less luxurious and expensive than previous collections”. The stool was a reminder of the old days, of traditional furniture in our parents’ home.
Made from pinewood, the smell of which adds to the memories, the Little Stool is geometric, contemporary, playful and very stable. The stools can be stacked together allowing for different uses depending on the height required.
This return to traditional design shows up elsewhere too. The popular Oldways collection is again a reflection on days gone by. Inspired by objects in his grandfather’s kitchen, Arico has created a modern take on traditional wooden kitchenware including a cheese grater, chopping block, utensils and a rolling pin. His grandfather handcrafted the objects based on Arico’s drawings, creating a more meaningful product. The objects are not your average glossy kitchen items. These have that rare rustic texture that would be the envy of any kitchen catalogue, the grooves and marks of the wood heavy and unblemished.
Still Alive is another popular collection, one that is inspired heavily by the art of still life. Still Alive is a collection of desk accessories for Seletti. Several different objects make up this collection including a brass pencil holder, a magnifying glass, a porcelain bottle for a single bloom, a wooden vase divided into three storage compartments and a wooden pyramid to hide your secrets.
Apart from the obvious functionality of the products, the uniqueness of the design is what sets it apart. Arico intended the products as an invitation to play, to bring in a little creativity and exploration. The products can be combined into your own still life, the shapes and shadows providing a 3D effect that you rarely get with everyday objects. The items come with a wooden board on which pre-drawn ‘footprints’ help you recreate the original composition.
At the Souvenir d’Italie earlier this year, Arico was invited to design small souvenirs for Italy, “connected to the idea of food and Italian traditions”. He designed three hand-painted ceramic figurines. One of these is called the ‘Bagnarota’, “a girl walking in the streets of Bagnara, a village located on the Mediterranean Sea, with a big basket on her head, bringing back fish and food to the family”. That figurine inspired a whole series of souvenirs with food on their heads and has now expanded to included characters from Sicily and Veneto as well.
Arico’s foray into lighting design includes the Bonjour Bajour, a funny, smile-inducing white porcelain lamp with a handle. Why does a lamp need a handle? “When Antonio added a handle to the side of the lamp, he wanted to connect the lamp to the warm feeling of a breakfast mug. Like your coffee or your tea, the Bonjour Bajour will help you wake up softly and peacefully,” says studio Arico.
With that kind of intention, every product coming out of the Arico stable hopes to make our lives a little more peaceful and beautiful. Amen to that.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy The Designer