Stone Design

Michele De Lucchi and the rarefied stone

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For years Michele De Lucchi has been following a particularly fertile creative path based on the “experience” of natural materials that are touched, weighted, sectioned and re-composed and then re-interpreted in their most peculiar aspects and regenerated in new forms and consistencies into the project of a contemporary design.
Representative of this project, that is experimental even before being theoretical, are the little constructions that, in recent years, the designer has been realising with panellists made of wood or stone, cutting himself minimal portions of the material and then re-assembling them in stratified and solid volumes, that recall elementary circle- or square-shaped implants.
Interpreting these “little houses” as pure entertainment or, at the opposite, as real models of micro-architecture is a purely critical exercise: the value of these little works isn’t linked to compositional motivations or to the formal so-obtained result, but in the contrary to the process through which materials are divided and re-united in a puzzle system; thanks to this procedure the designer gains familiarity with the most intimate characteristics of the material, with its veins or mineral textures, its colours, its density, its weight, its permissiveness to be reduced at minimal terms in order to give life, in a
second moment, to varied aggregative devices.

“Little house” realised by Michele De Lucchi.

Throughout this experimentation path, aimed to fully comprehend natural materials and to look for new styles and rhythms in an original and totally contemporary surface design, De Lucchi has accomplished in 2008 the project of “La Palissade”, a fair pavilion made of stone realised for PIBA Marmi, and is now going to sign the reception corner of “Natural Stone Vision – Sacred and Profane”, an exhibition event organized at Spazio Giovannoni in via Stendhal, Milan, in the occasion of the next edition of Salone del Mobile. The new setting, studied once again for PIBA, a firm based in Chiampo and specialized in stone design, contains a big table surrounded by seats and, on the background, a backdrop characterized by a fragmented look.
All these elements will be manufactured in drilled or inlayed limestone plates, based on a plan that seems to reproduce, in a stylized way, the subtle and dogged weaving of the industrious Aracne.
Net, knitting, development of intersected lines: the project, that the designer has conceived in collaboration with Angelo Micheli and Philippe Nigro, employs discontinuous, functional and aesthetical schemes, in which the design and the solid plenitude of the stone material come together with the immateriality and lightness of void spaces, giving life to light and fluctuating modular grates. The conventional density of stone, in this case, is declined in sparse and informal geometrical woofs that are able to create different types of texturizations  of shadows and lights, depending on illumination being incident, grazing or filtering.

Plan of De Lucchi’s setting for “Natural Stone Vision 2009”.

Thinning stone out in varied rhythms and intermittences that let opacity and transparency coexist, means creating for the vision impredictable gaps inserted in a peculiar on-off logic. It consists of a distributive strategy converging on the purpose of rarefaction and lightening of the material that meets the void. In this way light, as a more-than-ever active and modellating factor, is bearer of a powerful interpretation of the theme of lightness: light acts on a discontinuous texture, passes through the stone woof without any intermediary or stays on the surface creating shadows or illuminating it with different intensities, so it confers to the schemes elaborated for Natural Stone Vision new material and figurative consistencies.

Phases of the manufacturing of drilled and inlayed plates at PIBA Marmi laboratories.

The notion of screen refers to the concept of demarcation, of separation obtained through a composition of solid elements in order to sign some limits; these limits, however, aren’t absolute, nor are presented as net and definite like the walls that usually define rooms, but seem more permeable and filtering. The idea of a filter conveys the duality of separation and connection: we can read in it the transformation of the material in a device that attracts the gaze and makes expect a studied and graduated effect of uncovering of realities that go beyond it; realities that are announced as very close to be discovered but at the same time as never truly reachable, through the trespassing of the filter itself.
The signification De Lucchi’s texture responds to is the relationship between extremely opposite entities as plenitude and void, light and shadow, inside and outside, access and obstacle, in a continuous oscillation between the affirmation of a concrete and profound architectural materiality and its dissolution in an inexpressible immateriality. In this subtle game of balancing, transparency and opacity are to be looked as equal and identically fundamental topoi.

Components for the reception corner “Natural Stone Vision 2009”.

With their ambiguous fascination, the “discretion” and the “indiscretion” of a relative visibility, of a measured opacity, of a guided and equilibrate perception, characterize the conceptual base of the developing of this free interpretation of the wall, in which the archetypical status of this closed wrapping is substituted by semitransparent and discontinuous layers, able to partially attract, absorb or reflect light and images, selectively maintaining or fading the limits of shapes, creating games of horizontal or inclined luminous rays and activating never-seen-before visual and chromatic experiences.

Drilled and inlayed textures designed by Michele De Lucchi for “Natural Stone Vision 2009” space.

Michele De Lucchi’s stone-made grates and weaves for Natural Stone Vision transmit a selected and fragmented luminous flux able to create a vivid mosaic of spots, and give to the project of the contemporary design multiple suggestions, rich in expressive potentialities which, in this specific case, concern the world of thin leather, incised with regular ornamental diagrams or with more unusual suggestive designs, abstract signs not subjected to the rules of geometrical articulation, but of a figurative and symbolic universe.

by Davide Turrini