Belgian architect and designer Vincent Van Duysen’s latest creative endeavour, part of Mutina Editions, is ‘an ode to the strength of nature and its transforming force.’ Named after the Japanese word for mountain, the Yama collection of five decorative objects sought inspiration from pebbles carried by the current of rivers flowing from highland peaks to valleys, congruently shaped into ‘soft, sensual’ profiles. Seemingly cast from a single hunk of stone, the pleasingly rounded sculptural designs convey and imbibe a beautifully minimal aesthetic, distinct in their stone grey, monochrome simplicity.
“Yama focuses on the concept of reduction, reproducing the effect of a stone cut by man in different phases, as a homage to the work of designer and sculptor Isamu Noguchi,” relays Mutina, an Italian company that produces high-end ceramic tiles.
Evincing pleasingly organic forms evocative of nature, the Biomorphism art movement found a creative advocate in American artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi, one of 20th century’s most regarded sculptors. His models of artistic designs fused abstract, sinuous lines with natural materials, birthing profiles, objects, and works reminiscent of the naturally occurring forms, hues, and silhouettes found within nature and its offspring. As mentioned, Van Duysen succinctly borrows from his artistic ethos for Yama, manifesting and questioning apropos man-made objects suffused with biomorphic elements, their faculty to help reconnect with nature, especially in the progressively technocentric lifestyles of today.
The Editions comprise soulful collections of ceramic objects that are wholly handcrafted according to the artisanal tradition, by acclaimed global designers such as Van Duysen, Patricia Urquiola, Tokujin Yoshiyoka, and more. Produced in Italy by skilled master potters, each sculptural piece, as is the case with the Yama collection, is stamped and signed in a sequential manner to augment its exclusivity, elevating the elegance and uniqueness of the Italian design: “They are unique creations meant to last and to reach every corner of the world, but only one by one,” the Italian brand relays.
“With Mutina Editions, the company begins a new phase in the enhancement of the ceramic material, in compliance with the quality standards of the brand. The presence of small imperfections witnesses the authenticity provided by the artisanal production. Mutina Editions provides home accessories specially developed for interior decoration, combining the authenticity of the handmade production with a contemporary look and feel. They are exclusive artistic objects that reflect the personal approach of their authors and the evolution of their relationship with the brand,” they elaborate.
Intentionally bare and earthy, the product design collection is articulated in porcelain stoneware with a manual, slip-casting technique, forming an array of five stamped and numbered design objects including ‘Yama A’ (in 18x18 cm format), ‘Yama B’ (in 18x35 cm format), ‘Yama C,’ ‘Yama D,’ and ‘Yama E’ (in 35x35 cm format). These ‘enigmatic artefacts’ can be put in use singularly or as a set, as they share a coherent visual and material language. The strong sculptural presence assays a subtle sense of decoration to any space it gently inhabits.
“Yama is inspired by my passion for art, one of the many threads that bind me to Mutina, but also by my attraction to the beauty of nature and its elements,” shares Van Duysen, known for his stark, minimalist aesthetic. Even though Van Duysen is more renowned as an architect, the product designer has gained acclaim for his consistently sterile visual language seen across his stunning projects of interior design, furniture designs, and lighting designs, with details that are seldom or never excessive.
Barring a few slender indentations that line its modest textural skin, all five of the unadorned ceramic pieces by the Belgian designer reference the beauty and hues of natural stone, witnessed in their soft, soothing forms that invite contact and engagement. Especially calling out to contemporary design lovers with a taste for minimalism, the Yama collection is perfumed with a respect for nature, existing soulfully between inspiration cited from natural elements, and the realisation of man-made designs. In the pursuit of crafting quality decorative objects, perhaps, this creative acumen of simply referencing the textures, colour palettes, and forms abundant within natural elements, is yet another way to reconnect with the planet we inhabit.