Now in its fourth edition, the Venice Design Biennial is a parallel event enriching the already busy first month of the Venice Biennale of Architecture. “Auto-Exotic” is the fair’s theme this edition, and curators Francesca Giubilei and Luca Berta selected Italian and international voices representing today’s design landscape, including unique pieces, independent productions, limited editions and art design. Auto-Exotic does not refer to exotic automobiles; instead it’s a conversation of the dichotomies of declining globalization and exotic cultures.
The principal exhibition takes place at SPARC* (Spazio Arte Contemporanea), alongside locations that prioritize unusual locations and unexplored corners of Venice. Several installations take place at the former beer brewery now home to SPUMA (Space for the Arts), the hyper-traditional Bocciofila San Sebastiano, and one of the beach cabins at the decadent Des Bains 1900 Luxury Beach Club on the Lido.
Among the dozens of projects and objects on display, the five projects below best summarize the spirit of the Design Biennial. The installation is open until 18 June 2023.
Studio Terre, “Rocco” wall decors, and “Mostrini” containers
Slow design is the center of the work of Studio Terre, a young Italian firm creating unique pieces at the intersection of art and design. The installation at SPARC* features copper chains of different lengths covered with Murano glass beads and terracotta powder that can be freely used to decorate walls or hang in the middle of a room. Mostrini, on the other hand, is a collection of small glass and terra cotta containers creating warm reflections. They can be functional or decorative bowls, but similar to clouds can be seen in many different ways.
Studio Yongwon, “New Koreanism”
Based in Eindhoven and Seoul, Yongwon Noh’s conceptual designs focus on the reinterpretation of contemporary Korean culture and its relationship with the past, the traumas of its history, and the relationship with cultural influences from abroad. With “New Koreanism,” he rethinks the visual culture of printed ads, banners, and fliers, often considered a constant and inevitable source of visual pollution. What if they became the base for a new Korean aesthetic? What if they become a new pattern for ancient Korean ceramics? For this project, Yongwon uses upcycled flyers and old ceramics, creating a message of environmental sustainability.
Studio Mau Mau, “The Thorn Bird Project”
Dongzhu Li is the designer behind Studio Mau Mau, and she presents a pale green tent hiding a series of furniture and objects made with the same very light textile material. In an age of constant, wanted, or forced migrations, it is a critical reflection on how easy it is to build a home away from home, but which will always be as ephemeral and unstable as the one on display.
Lin Fanglu for Objective Gallery, “Elopement Rhapsody”
Lin Fanglu is a Shanghai-based artist who constantly blends craftsmanship, art, and design. With “Elopement Rhapsody,” she put into practice the traditional Chinese tie-dye, learned directly from the Bai women of Zhoucheng village in Yunnan. The result is an almost impossible-to-use chair reminiscent of a sea creature. It is no coincidence that the curators decided to show it by the sea, inside cabin 26, which was part of the historic (and now abandoned) Hotel Des Bains in the Lido of Venice.
Chris Fusaro, “Pasta Persa”
“Cera Persa Persa” in Italian means “lost wax.” This classic jewelry-making technique has become “Pasta Persa” in the hands of Chris Fusaro, an Italian-Canadian artist and industrial designer. A series of strainers, colanders, and trivets arises from experiments where pasta becomes the kitchenware. These unique hand-made pieces merge jewelry and foundry techniques creating completely functional sculptures.
Hero image, The Venice Design Biennial installation at the Bocciofila San Sebastian, by Evan Orensten