Silver Strobe Lights
2016 marks both TLmag’s silver jubilee and the 25th edition of the Biennale Interieur in Courtrai. At the helm of this year’s “Silver Lining” themed Biennale are curators OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen, Richard Venlet and Joris Kritis. TLmag saw this as the perfect opportunity to go on a journalistic road trip through the Alps, alternately speeding through and slowing down to admire the work scattered throughout the long lakes and majestic mountains. This issue’s cover is by Alfredo Häberli, a man who knows how to appreciate beautiful cars, the good life and the kind of design that marries poetry and precision. Häberli crafted the cover’s Alpine silver diamonds at his studio on Lake Zurich.
Italy and Switzerland share a strong design culture ripe with innovative ideas. Switzerland’s picturesque cities, forever running like clockwork, stand in stark contrast to the romance, colours, imagination and chaos of Italy. One country’s characteristic Alpine precision tends toward the ascetic. The other country’s glamorous sartorial tradition draws on a national history of cinematic and manufacturing expertise. In an effort to bridge the cultural divide between Europe the romantic and Europe the Germanic, TLmag looked to nature as a source of inspiration common to both countries. In the eyes of designers Mathieu Lehanneur and Rolf Sachs, nature evokes man’s basic needs and true nature. This vision is very much in line with the work of Carlo Mollino, Gaetano Pesce, Alfredo Häberli, the Postmodern collective Nucleo, Tomáš Král, Adrien Rovero, Julie Richoz and Lowie Vermeersch, who runs the Turin-based Granstudio.
While Italy has played a large role in modern and contemporary design, infusing them with emotions and stories, Switzerland is responsible for forming the fundamentals of the Integral graphic design movement, as Ruedi Baur and Lars Müller so beautifully explain. From Basel to Geneva, Bern, Zurich, Switzerland gets credit for giving birth to world-renowned museums, art collections and events such as Art Basel and Design Miami/Basel. The country also shaped unique approaches to art curation, such as those described by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Simon Castets, Matylda Krzykowski and Rebekka Kiesewetter and Samuel Leuenberger. Switzerland excels in the specialised fields of watchmaking, sanitary ware and office furniture, as illustrated by the brands Audemars Piguet, Laufen and USM and Vitra respectively. As for Italy, the country boasts a longstanding tradition of craftsmanship and large-scale furniture production, evident all the way from the Brianza in Lombardy to Tuscany, where Edra is based.
When reflecting on the Alps, Gustav Mahler springs to mind. For the famous composer, lakes were at the origin of all creation and the Alpine summits were the true measure of potential. Likewise, the perspectives of contemporary architects like Peter Zumthor, Valerio Olgiati, Bernard Tschumi, OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen and Christian Wassmann help us to appreciate the precision and purity of their architecture, their ability to express the essential.