Levels of Interpretation: an essay by Maria Cristina Didero on XYZ

“With its flexible identity, xyz is a free and liberating act, as well as a concise manifesto of generosity in design”

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When we need to make things talk, there are various ways to do so, especially when silence – thus absence – appears to offer the loudest voice possible. Industrial design is an open language, it may be shouted or whispered. Narrated or left open to different interpretations, to tastes or to needs. There are several ways to recount the world of design, deemed such only when taken to embody a prior reflection, an in-depth analysis on the final use for a given object, beyond the formula by which to best achieve it. But while Ettore Sottsass and Dieter Rams may be considered opposite poles of the same geography, the drawing at first glance light-stroked, composite in the infinite declinations of materials, painstakingly studied on a structural level, is guided here by the steady hand of Luca Cipelletti who – in the creation of this non-collection collection – uses a simple and precise narrative expedient in order to show us (but most of all, not show us) the infinite creative potential of a single module. Objects speak to us through diverse languages, and it is up to designers to give them voice.

xyz by the museographer, architect and now designer Luca Cipelletti stands before our gaze with the solid substance of a great classic – a rare quality in contemporary design. The subtle design of this collection, its multiform identity declined through a range of materials and measurements, its expressive freedom – albeit within a given grid of proportions – beyond the substantial choices that define the object itself, are signs of a level of maturity generated by a profound reflection, as well as an uncommon talent for synthesis. In xyz, the creator focussed his attention to show us the infinite and malleable ability of the corner/node, primordial atom from which the aesthetics and functionality of a table are developed, or for that matter a console or a bench. The meeting point between the table leg and the top is reinvented with a simple and sophisticated engineered joint of extraordinary elegance, worthy of the most admirable examples of the Japanese tradition: finely elaborated starting from the intersection of the three mathematical Cartesian axes, the node creates a joining of the top surface which shows it to be part of the whole, yet at the same time free from any constriction and from the weight of gravity. Put together with a selection of different kinds of wood, the elements comprising this made-to-measure series represent a coherent family of objects of which the lucky user may choose size, finishing and ultimate purpose.

A physiological extension of Cipelletti’s personal and broader approach to architecture, this open collection of pieces in nuce sums up the peculiar relationship of the Milanese architect with creativity as a whole, for he has always worked on such concepts as subtraction and detraction, so as to host multiple levels of interpretation within a specific, given object. His propaedeutic, founding and constituent obsession with details characterizing his approach to the illustrious profession of architecture is well expressed in this unusual collection with a special concern for those who will then use his designs when they will become alive within space. Instead of looking inwards, Luca Cipelletti looks outwards. Out and beyond, as these are objects originated through conversations, opinions and exchanges; they would never stand as a monologue of an architect – as too many objects we come across. With its flexible identity, xyz is a free and liberating act, as well as a concise manifesto of generosity in design.

Maria Cristina Didero [Independet Design Curator]