25 artists from six different countries come together for NUfactory's ephemeral celebration of street art
by Paolo Ferrarini in Culture on 30 October 2014
At the recent private preview of the OUTDOOR Urban Art Festival in Rome, we were approached by two men in their 60s while we stood outside of the massive gates of an abandoned house in San Lorenzo. While uninvited, they were welcomed by curator Francesco Dobrovich, and we embarked on a tour together in which the men expressed an incredible knowledge of the Roman street art scene, from where to find emerging artists to discussing the previous edition of the festival itself. This demonstration made clear that the festival is a very present institution in town.
But what is the role of Rome in this realm? “Rome does not have a leading role in the landscape of street art," says Dobrovich, "[That role is] played by New York and Paris. It's definitely on the rise, thanks to its great tradition of writing and the strong success of operators that are emerging internationally. Rome is undoubtedly the reference point in Italy, a role that is being built year after year, with a growing number of international happenings.“
This is the fifth edition of OUTDOOR, so the curators felt they had to make some kind of change—an update in the formula. For this reason, the exhibition is titled “Moving Forward” and the location is no longer a street or square, but paradoxically an indoor space, and a huge one. The building is a former customs house in the San Lorenzo neighborhood, completely abandoned for five years and scheduled to be partly demolished in the coming months. The 5,000 square meters of surface have thus become a sort of huge blank canvas, to be interpreted by a group of 25 invited artists from six different nations. The spacious and completely empty space doesn't feel like a traditional exhibition, but more like a real biennale, made of national pavilions. This is a dream for every street artist—an abandoned but safe environment, somewhere to be free to create alongside other peers. It's an area for rigor, self-expression, discipline and art.
As a result, visitors feel out of time and out of space. This could be in any world capital, and the sense of time is lost when walking around the decorated rooms and corridors. Creativity is the true and only protagonist here, without barriers. There are no boundaries between sculpture and painting, collage and spray, furniture design and architecture, music and poetry.
The Blaqk group from Greece has painted an entire room, from ceilings to floors, doors to windows, without leaving one single inch in its original form. They also added a swing and slide, portraying the idea of a playground.
The conceptual characteristics of Dot Dot Dot are recognized all over the world. In Rome, the Norwegian artist uses his signature of adopted corporate graphics and logos to recreate a square made of circles, producing the words “street art."
The female side of the movement is also well-represented. Painting and mythology are inspiration for Faith47, a South African street and studio artist who isn't afraid to experiment with any kind of material or medium. From Japan has come Lady Aiko, famous for her collaborations with Takashi Murakami and Banksy. The surreal and cartoon-like style of Italian artist Laurina Paperina plays with dreams and nightmares, using childish icons and monsters.
Thomas Canto and Davide Dormino both tread the thin line between drawing and sculpture. French artist Canto chose ropes and paper to give life to a sort of 3D graffiti, while Udine-born Dormino utilizes iron wires that seem to extend from the abandoned tracks of the industrial site.
The largest room is the battlefield of Brus, Ike and Hoek, who worked side by side in a colorful and complex narration, involving environmental interventions. The same abundance is found in the repeated faces of Galo, which completely cover the reinforced concrete of a long and slightly scary corridor.
The next room is a concert space, occupied by Buff Monster and his pinker-than-pink blob, which rests in limbo between creepy and cute.
The bar designed by Omar El Asry is also a noteworthy piece. Its futuristic and almost digital taste contrasts with the origin of the material, which is solely comprised of recycled wood.
During our visit, Dobrovich tells us about the relationship with the international artists. “Rome is always a fascinating destination for an artist," he says. "Even a visit to the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi to see Caravaggio can be an unforgettable experience; something that’s hard to say no to. In addition to this, thanks to the credibility our team has built on the international scene, it’s easier to establish and maintain connections with major artists. [And] the role of the embassies together with the format of this fifth edition, unique at the international level, has made the relationship easier than in past years.”
The beauty of such a project relies on it being ephemeral, but not because the paintings are going to be covered by new ones, but because this is the best and latest expressive moment of this space, which will soon disappear. In Dobrovich’s words, “It seemed important to start from a basic element dear to every artist of street art: ephemeral art expression. The expression every artist is trying to show on the street, aware that the work could be visible just for a while, even if only for a night.”
Images courtesy of Paolo Ferrarini and OUTDOOR
The historic Czech furniture-maker presents its first design-oriented bedroom set
by Adam Stech in Design on 30 October 2014
Though family-owned furniture brand Jelínek (based in the Czech town of Valašské Meziříčí) was founded in 1897, this is the first time in its long history that the company has worked with a designer to produce a contemporary collection of solid wood furniture—and the results of the experiment are pretty stunning. "With my LaVista furniture collection, I wanted to link quality craftsmanship with the traditional elements, but in a different context," says Czech designer Jaroslav Juřica of Hubero Kororo on their collaboration.
Tireless experimenter and the creator of numerous conceptual objects on the border of design and fine art, Juřica gave a new direction to the company and created a timeless series—including a bed, bench and chest of drawers. He continues the success of his minimalist Chair 002 (made of just three pieces) for Ton, and works with the material and its construction in a natural and elegant way. In the LaVista series, Juřica used traditional techniques and shape archetypes. The bed's unusual headboard, for example, is inspired by the classic Windsor chair. A shared theme throughout collection is the use of drawers, which are not only part of the dressers and bench, but also the bed, where they form a small, elegant integrated bedside table that almost looks as if it is floating.
The newest release from Jelínek carpentry is a symbiosis of modern timeless design, traditional joinery techniques and—last but not least—inspiration from local folk architecture and furniture. The LaVista collection promises to be the first of many future design collaborations from this transparent furniture manufacturer (which reveals stats like it takes 241 hours of labor, 26 people and 1.4m³ of wood to create one bed, dresser and desk), and brings attention to its burgeoning design scene.
Images courtesy of Jelínek
A new collection takes indulgent (non-alcoholic) notes from Manhattan's Death & Co
After working for eight years as a food editor at Food & Wine magazine, Kristin Donnelly manifested her longstanding love of blending ingredients by making unisex lip balms from natural ingredients with no artificial flavorings or fragrances—or pastel colors and glitter, for that matter. Founding Stewart & Claire with her husband, Donnelly—who compares the process to mixing a well-crafted cocktail—the two develop concoctions that feature ingredients like hemp oil, mango butter, jojoba oil, peru basalm, bitter orange, even black pepper.
Their affection for cocktails is a running theme, in fact, as Stewart & Claire boasts a balm called the Old Fashioned. Taking it one step further is their Death & Co collection, with three lip balms inspired by the famed East Village bar's cocktail book and created with input from the bar's founder and owner, David Kaplan. There isn't a drop of alcohol in Boozy, Citrusy or Smoky, but the layered, subdued scents will transport you to a dark, curtained-off bar counter—if only for a brief indulgent moment—before you get back to work.
Pick up the three-piece Death & Co collection for $24 from Stewart & Claire online.
Images by Cool Hunting