The Path to the Nest of Spiders - Nonostante Marras

by Maria Rossi

photography Lorenzo Sampaolesi

28 April 2015

“Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno”—The Path to the Nest of Spiders—is both the title of the exhibition presented by Antonio Marras and Segno Italiano for this edition of Salone del Mobile, and originally the title of Italo Calvino’s first novel. In the book, the neorealist narrative underlies a fabled dimension that also peels into the namesake presentation. Nonostante Marras—the Sardinian designer’s store, showroom and cultural circle where the installation has been presented—is infused with the same spirit, sealing in an entrancing atmosphere where poetry makes a foray into reality.

That’s especially true during the balmy design week days in Milan, when the lively internal courtyard becomes a convivial space, punctuated by spots of lilacs around Paola Lenti’s parasols, with the flowers and floral compositions—created by Tonino Guerra—filling both the patio and the store. Flowers also make an appearance as a decorative motif in the new wallpaper designed by Antonio Marras for Wall and Decò, where geishas peak out from bouquets in a surrealist East-meets-West composition. Open wooden cupboards serve as a display for a special series of eight unique plates with watercolors by Antonio Marras, as part of the continuing collaboration with Segno Italiano.

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On the days of Salone del Mobile, Nonostante Marras also offered the chance to look at the work of photographer and painter Yelena Yemchuk. Until the end of April, she presents a collection of artworks entitled “A Dangerous Intruder.” In the world of her drawings, revolutionary leaders and imagined characters—depicted in thin black silhouettes where color is used only sparingly—inhabit together a flat, aseptic scene, which scatters linear narration. A streak of subtle darkness emerges from her vision of human relationships, but the outlook—halfway between Pop Art and German Expressionism—sinks the darker aspects into an abstract and playful realm verging on the absurd.

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Above, left: Dark Water by Yelena Yemchuk, 2014; above, right: Behind the Green Light by Yelena Yemchuk, 2012.

Getting back to terra firma, the warm hues of crocheted blankets in patchworks of subdued purples, oranges, off-whites and blues catch the eye. These covers were made in collaboration with Italian model—and friend and muse of the designer—Benedetta Barzini, to whom he also dedicated his last fall collection.

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Above: Night as a Thousand Eyes watercolor by Yelena Yemchuk, 2012.

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Exiting through the courtyard and taking the stairs down to the basement, the path leads to a dimly lit space dominated by the presence of a cubic 5-meter-high glass cage, with rotating nests. Creations of Antonello Utzeri, the little nests wrapped in colored tulle are animated by a rotating device to the sound of trilling birds. Surrounding the cage is a collection of baskets in river cane, myrtle and olive completed with different patterns made out of Marras’ scraps of fabrics. In the exhibition, the aforementioned suggestions evoked by the original “Path to the Nest of Spiders” perfectly sum up the integration of substance and poetry—plus an attention to craftsmanship—always present in Marras’ work, in every field it touches on. Indeed, the Segno Italiano agents and the fashion designer have come together again to protect and promote artisanal realities in Italy—the specific artisans this year being the basket weavers from the south of Sardinia.

The outcome this time has been particularly outstanding and has earned them first prize for the Best Installation in the Milano Design Award competition.

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