Carte Blanche – blank power of attorney

Vernissage: 25th march 20222 – 18.00 Exhibition: 25.3.2022 – 4.5.2022

Ten designs by architect, designer, philosopher and artist Antonio Scarponi, which are a manifesto for the “complicated” simplicity and poetry of design work.

Aspects of the history of architecture and construction, the avant-garde art movement of the early 20th century and the tradition of storytelling in design flowed into the design work.

The designs were created for a mobile pavilion on the occasion of the Venice Biennale, with the theme of restoring legality to land confiscated by the mafia in southern Italy. Unfortunately, the pavilion was never realized.

 Konzepthaus Laboratorium and Antonio Scarponi have produced a limited series of some of the ten pieces of furniture and are presenting them at a spectacularly designed exhibition in the concept house in Thun.

The drafts can be produced using the artistic drawings, ordered as a kit from the Konzeptahaus Laboratorium or purchased fully assembled as a limited edition, signed by the designer and artist.

The innocent Collection

The innocent collection is a rebel to its destiny. It has been designed and conceived as where a farmer meets a lawyer, far out in the Sicilian countryside, perhaps under the shadow of an olive tree, to discuss the legal procedure for reporting mafia activity end to establish legality. 

This collection is the starting point of the design process of a mobile pavilion run by a non-profit organization and commissioned by the Venice Architecture Biennale to reactivate the lands confiscated from the mafia in the south of Italy, which has never been realized.

In its innocent simplicity, the collection evokes the lyric spirit of freedom and rebellion. It is part of a furniture collection that reflects the simplicity of living. 

The innocent Chair and other stories of life, freedom and design

ten objects for home living, one manifesto
Antonio Scarponi

Two men meet in an abandoned countryside in the shade of an olive tree, or perhaps in the shade of a rusty metal sheet. The first man is a farmer. The second a lawyer. The farmer needs help and the lawyer works as a volunteer for an organization that reactivates the land confiscated from the mafias, and is there to advise the farmer on how to start a path of legality. This scene is made up, of my imagination. But it is a clear image, which surfaced in my mind while I was working on a project for a mobile pavilion that could host this type of activity in southern Italy, imagining this type of meeting and this type of relationship between two men or maybe two brave women. and rebels against their own destiny.

I wondered about the symbolic shape of a chair, placed in this context that I had to somehow design and where those two men or two women should have met. In this place the mafia chair was born and with it also this manifesto in ten objects, as a symbolic way to rebel against one’s destiny. A symbolic way not to accept the world as it is, but to transform that small part of it that is in our hands. To build with them, in a simple, robust and direct way – perhaps like an abandoned countryside – our way of being in the world, through ten objects that tell stories of life, freedom and design, understood here as that impulse that rejects the reality of the world, to then transform it.

I believe that design is a form of storytelling. Its strength is to animate matter in the imagination of people, and to ensure that it, the matter, interweaves relationships with them, people. In fact, design is capable of activating industries, workers, artisans, convincing managing directors, attracting investors, producing market economies, changing customs, innovating traditions. Sometimes, design is also able to trigger and shape social transformations, in short, to change small pieces of the world.

This collection of objects pursues a design idea that can transform ourselves. A design idea that does not produce consumer goods, products, but that produces knowledge. Each narrative establishes an intimate relationship with the listener. Drawings, diagrams, schemes, will tell a poem of living made for objects that you can build, if you wish.

On the other hand, a poem engraved in marble has no more value than a poem written on the back of a book cover, on the pages of a crumpled notebook or on the back of a crumpled receipt. That is, it is not the material value that determines the universal value of the poem. On the contrary, I believe that the nature of a poor material narrates the urgency and fragility of poetry in all its immensity, its being “here and now” where poetry lives, the context in which it occurs, and is conceived.

The same thing can be said for that particular poetics of objects to which we refer with a word of ancestral origins, which we sometimes use as a noun, sometimes as an adjective, sometimes again as a verb: “design”, meaning in a somewhat vague way , but at the same time assertive, that art form born at the beginning of the last century with the so-called industrial revolution, but which is an art as old as fire that I like to call the art of design and design, or the art of transforming men and things and the relationship between them. Marrying this hypothesis, I looked for the poorest and easiest to work building material with which it was possible to make an object to live in. A wood profile that grows quickly, light, modular, even a little crooked, whose base and height are related to each other to build complex structures. A humble material with which the roofs of the houses, the partitions, the doors of the cellars and the illusions and hopes of the theatrical stages are built.

This narrative approach to design, to matter, to the relationship between things is for me a form of self-liberation, of rebellion that belongs to the archetypes of designing and that I believe can be traced back to the great treatise tradition inaugurated with the oldest document of its kind that has come down to us which is the De Architettura, written by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio between 15 and 30 BC. Vitruvius describes architecture as an art of building and as a form of the civilization process of humanity that occurs through it. In modern times, however, I believe that this way can be traced back to the experience of Thoreau and his Walden, that is, life in the woods, as the first form of anti-capitalist protest. Or Louise Brigham’s pioneering project and her Box Furniture (1910), where she provides instructions for building furniture items made from shipping crates for Norwegian miners. Or the early avant-garde and the artist Thayaht’s attempt to dress society in a self-sufficient hemp cloth suit, then produced and woven by all the peasants in Italy. La TuTa (1918) which stood for the motto tout-de-même, all the same, like a unisex suit, for all activities and for all seasons, designed to be self-made with patterns designed with precise instructions by Thayath for to be disseminated through the newspapers of the time, for a production delegated to the resilient manual skills of a finally modern world, freed from trappings. Several excellent episodes followed during the twentieth century in this sense: Rietveld and his self-produced chairs such as the Red and Blue Chair (1917), and again Enzo Mari and his Autoprogettura (1974) which is almost contemporary with the reflections of Papanek Design for the Real World (1971), or in search of a whole life and numerous books by Yona Friedman. Many other examples could be related to this discourse. However, I am interested in claiming an approach to design, to the art of design, which begins with the readjustment and transformation of what is already there as a sort of readymade that subverts the original functions of objects, rebelling them against their destiny.

The mafia chair and other stories of life, freedom and design includes a collection of ten objects to be inhabited that can be made by anyone, anywhere, following a few indications suggested by me. It is a naked collection, with the idea that there is no design for the rich and one for the poor, a democratic and an authoritarian design, a critical and an uncritical design, a committed and an unengaged design, a political design and an apolitical one, a sustainable and an unsustainable design. I believe that these are the essential qualities that define the nature of design today, as a poetic form that infuses objects with a soul. Ten objects to be inhabited as props of our daily drama or comedy of which each of us can be the author.

Dr.phil.Antonio Scarponi Architect – Designer – Professor zhkd

Antonio is italian and studied at the Cooper Union New York an in Venice. He’s living in Zürich and is founder of Conceptual Devices.

In 2014 we developped with him the “Hotello” Project.


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