Ceramics: Neverending Artworks is an exhibition of precious designer ceramics which the Iris Ceramica Group will be hosting until 15 April in its flagship store in Milan at Via Santa Margherita 4, only minutes away from the cathedral. The week before Easter is the last opportunity to take a look at this summary of the ingenious expressions of the art of ceramics that evolved around the radical design of the Memphis Group and, more generally speaking, of the Italian ceramics industry of recent decades, with twenty-three minor masterpieces by Aldo Cibic, Alessandro Mendini, Andrea Branzi, Ettore Sottsass, George Sowden, Luigi Serafini, Marco Zanini, Martine Bedin, Matteo Thun, Michele De Lucchi, Nathalie Du Pasquier and Peter Shire, collected together by gallery owner Antonia Jannone.
A promenade among enigmatic, eloquent objects for everyday life that transcend everyday living, such as the Sugar and Camomilla fruit bowls or the Cinnamon and Basilico teapots in Ettore Sottsass’s The Indian Memory series, which Antonia Jannone presented for the first time in her gallery in 1987. Or the ironic items designed by the unpredictable Luigi Serafini, such as Nessie, a teapot inspired by the Loch Ness monster, or the headless Untitled white vase in which a faun, sitting atop a cascade of bubbles, holds his (open-mounted) head in his hands. Or a spherical vase with its upper half covered with little enamelled tiles, designed by conceptual artist Martine Bedin.
Ceramics never cease to amaze, as the works on display suggest, inspiring the reflection of Federica Minozzi, CEO of the group founded by her father Romano, now Chairman, who started working with world-renowned and emerging ceramics artists back in the sixties: “This exhibition means a return to the roots of our Group; or, even better, a voyage that begins with our roots and continues into the future. Ceramics have a great cultural content, both artistic and as a material for industrial design, and we believe this culture is well worth rediscovering and reviving. We encourage our researchers to go beyond habits and conventions to come up with new solutions to the challenges that await us.” And she adds: “Experimentation is part of our heritage: we started out as pioneers, and we still are pioneers; this is the key to the Group’s success. Our primary goal is re-engineering ceramic materials to make them capable of improving the interaction between humans and the environment”.
Reconnecting creativity and industry, artistic endeavour and practical experimentation are the ambitious goals the Iris Ceramica Group has set for itself, starting with the refined interpretation that art and design, with their ability to interpret and anticipate the times, can give the material: “Bringing these twenty-three manufactures into the heart of Milan,”, continues Minozzi, “has profound significance for us: it represents a stage in the process we wish to perform to rediscover ceramics as precious, flexible, eclectic materials. Ceramics are functionally excellent, but also capable of expressing beauty and supporting the pursuit of art and design as few other materials can.” Federica Minozzi is convinced that the industry needs to respond to this time of historic change by “creating a new culture of ceramics for the twenty-first century”. And then, as Antonia Jannone notes, “the history of ceramics is an amazing story, and Italy is full of geniuses!”
Ceramics: Neverending Artworks
01 Ettore Sottsass, The Indian Memory, Sugar fruit bowl
02 Michele De Lucchi, vase
03 Michele De Lucchi, vase
04 Martine Bedin, white vase, and Luigi Serafini, Nessie teapot
05 Peter Shire, Mini peach stack and Mexican dress bell gardens
06 George Sowden, vase
07 Ettore Sottsass, The Indian Memory, Basilico teapot
08 Matteo Thun, Teje flower vase
09 Marco Zanini, gilded ceramic vase
10 Alessandro Mendini, Columns