Milan-based Sovrappensiero Design Studio creates unexpected design that is surprising, because it is poetic, emotional and useful all at the same time.
Once in a while there comes a designer who creates things so unexpected that it makes you sit back and look twice. The Sovrappensiero Design Studio illustrates this perfectly. A colloboration between designers Lorenzo De Rosa and Ernesto Ladevaia, this Milan-based studio has consistently created unusual designs since their formation in 2007.
Take a look at the designs for lighting, for example. At first glance, what strikes you about the Agata lamp (2016) is its shape. The lamp looks like a scultpure, a modern minimalist decoration. A metal circle or ellipse holds a wooden cuff which then transitions into the mirrored shade. Meant to be a ceiling lamp, the Agata can be used as one or multiples. The hanging metal wires are adjustable for height and rotation.
The Pileo (2014) floor and table lamps are inspired by nature, particularly by the shape of mushrooms. The word ‘pileo’ means a skull cap or hat close to the head. It also refers to the top expanded portion of fungi, which makes it a perfect name in many ways for this lamp. “We wanted to make a lamp that talks about the fine and delicate sides of the wood,” says the design team. The solid canaletta walnut or ash lamp has a tin-plated shade and clean lines.
The Sunset (2015) table lamp was designed to be like its name-sake : “a warm and gentle sun that briefly illumunates the space before setting.” The LED lighting is enclosed in a shell painted with an embossed finish, one that is reminiscent of traditional lamp shades. When not in use, the Sunset could well be an accent for your table.
The Saving lamp (2010) is full of emotional context. It reflects a much-loved object which has fulfilled its purpose, yet is precious enough to not only be retained, but displayed proudly under a glass globe.
Sovrappensiero’s designs for furniture are somewhat unusual as well. The Atto di Fede (2013) chair brims with metaphors and biblical references. According to the studio, this quirky chair speaks of faith and betrayal. One leg of the chair comes apart in the shape of a cross, throwing the rest of the chair out of alignment. This apparently, is inspired by St. Matthew, one of the Apostles of Christ.
“It seems that Christ has only said “follow me” to convert him from mere money, to the holy spirit. And the “follow me”, in the chair, becomes the thread that holds together the support, as “following” in case of God does not mean to go behind someone, take his place, or remain attached, but stay remain faithful to the straight helm of something. Holding to a principle without which everything falters.
It just happens that last supper was the first announced crunch: there, where principles are missing, even the princes decay, and the gods die. Where the straight line of any value coincides with the line of gravity. If you betray it, everything collapses. And in these days, it is not a small thing to remember this.”
Metaphors and hidden ideas have been part of the design since the beginning. The ‘Casseto del sogni’ (2010) bedside table is an elegant table with a secret. It had a hidden drawer with a blackboard bottom, one you can use to “write your secret wish”.
The Office Retrofit (2011) range of office products reused the old stock of the Manerba furniture company. The series includes storage, furniture and decorative accents like plant holders. The studio says, “The project idea is the balance between two different objectives: the first is to create a strong contrast with the traditional image of impersonal, institutional and rigorous offices, and the other is to make the production easy and cheap.”
Sovrappensiero’s product design range extends to hardware and kitchenware as well. The Cook range for Mamoli (2014) is a series of flexible taps for the kitchen. The classic faucet was redesigned for a 360° movement, thus making it capable of handling multiple interactions at one time. The taps are available in a range of colours as well. Say goodbye to the standard stainless-steel finish and say hello to sunflower ray, red chilli and blue blueberry.
Furnature (2016) is a experimental series of “incomplete objects” like hangers, side tables, an hourglass and a towel rack. The industrial peices are incomplete unless an element of nature is added to it. So the side-table needs a rock to anchor it, the towel-rack is meaningless without a branch that acts as towel holder and the hourglass is defined by the minerals used in it.
Similarly, the Roll-Artico-Clip designs for Incipit (2014) changes the perception of the classical daily object. Roll is a modern version of the perpetual calendar. Made from beech wood and with three graphics printed on tyvek, Roll is ironic and cheeky.
Artico is a pair of ceramic containers too pretty to be used. Inspired by a body of water, with a little boat and iceberg floating on the metallic mirror lid. Clip is a clock with a clamp which means you can hang it wherever you like including on shelves, doors and handles. No reason to ever forget the time now.
The Design Studio’s work extends to innovative projects such as ‘Design for blind people’ which included a carpet which mimicked the sound of walking on dry leaves, adding a new dimension to the simple act of walking. Sovrappensiero has won several awards and they’ve had several collaborations with leading international brands. Given their portfiolio so far, one can gladly look forward to more emotion-filled and poetic products which give the space a little more depth and meaning.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy The Designer