Natural stone brand SolidNature has returned to take up temporary residence at Spazio Cernaia, in the heart of Brera Design District after its successful installation at Alcova in 2022. The brand will present a solo extensive and immersive installation touted ‘Beyond The Surface’ – a journey guiding visitors towards realising dreams. An immersive dreamscape designed by Ellen van Loon and Giulio Margheri of the renowned international architectural firm OMA, to inspire and motivate visitors to dream and push the limits of creativity. It draws parallels between the formation and quarrying of stone and the process of dreaming, how the creation and working of stones require time, skill and effort, and the same applies to achieving dreams. “This year’s exhibition is about nature’s power; it gives an impression of the processes of compression and solidification that led to the formation of natural stone as we know it today,” shares Ellen van Loon, Partner, OMA.
The solo exhibition is set to unveil in the basement and gardens of the Neo-Romanesque Casa Maveri covering over 500 square meters of the property. "The installation gives a taste of different potential treatments, applications and approaches of designing with natural stone." shares Giulio Margheri, Associate Architect, OMA. A sky-blue onyx volume welcomes the visitors as they descend a staircase made of multicoloured examples of the same stone. A sequence of rooms await the visitors as they discover to reimagine the process of manufacturing and processing marble and witness a series of sensory experiences. The basement is designed in various environments that draw a direct parallel between the formation and quarrying of stone and the process of dreaming.
The garden, on the other hand, adorns objects by different designers – a bar, a tribune, a table with seats, an art piece and a lounge that serve as a backdrop for the different activities hosted during the week. Ellen, Giulio and their team defined the areas where the activities associated with the Design Week would take place and, together with SolidNature, chose the designers of the objects based on new and longstanding relationships. This choice stemmed from the desire to showcase the different potential treatments, applications and approaches of designing with natural stone. Dutch artist , Sabine Marcelis was one of the designers chosen for the garden installation to design a table and bar for the installation.
“With the theme ‘beyond the surface’ I really wanted to zoom in on exactly that. The surface of the table is traditionally focused on and what gives it is its function. I wanted to focus on the feet below and presentation volumes above the surface instead,” shares Sabine. In contrast with Sabine’s stark geometric lines of the table and bar, OMA and SolidNature reached out to Iranian artist , Bita Fayyazi whose sculptural style focuses on sinuous, feminine lines inspired by nature. Fayyazi designed seating for the garden, depicting various organic forms, consisting of five sculptures touted ‘The Wave’, ‘Chimera’, ‘Owl’, ‘Cat’ and ‘Rabbit’ to be viewed as functional art. “I am so fond of and drawn to stones that at some stage in my own work, I had started using “marble effect” in my resin sculptures. Because of its inherent beauty, it is a delightful material for making sculptures. In fact, as a consequence of this project with SolidNature, I have become interested in follow-up by incorporating stone in my own work.” shares Fayyazi.
The garden will also showcase a stage designed by the Italian and Dutch duo Studio Ossidiana . The team has designed a mineral theatre for talks during the Milan Design Week, interpreted as the ‘piccolo teatro’ and inspired by Elizabethan theatres paired with the surreal landscapes of quarries. The central space of the tribune is a gravel-filled courtyard that shapeshifts into a space for performances, lectures, and dances. A mineral canvas where visitors are encouraged to draw ephemeral basreliefs during the week. Within the space, the visitor will also come across a sculptural art piece made of semi-precious stone designed by third-generation Dutch jeweller Ward Strootman, that depicts how stone can be appreciated in its monolithic forms as well as in smaller curated items.
Marble and Onyx are always experienced in their finished forms without grasping the texture and essence of their raw natural form, this installation by SolidNature is an artistic approach towards highlighting the meticulous process behind natural stone products. A journey to make visitors aware of the entire process leading to the final product through immersive installations and sculptural designs in a way that appeals to all the senses.
STIR’s coverage of Milan Design Week 2023 showcases the best exhibitions, studios, designers, installations, brands, and special projects to look out for. Explore Euroluce 2023 and all the design districts—5Vie Art and Design, Brera Design District, Fuorisalone, Isola Design District, Tortona District, and Milano Design District—with us.
Text by Ria Jha.