by Almas SadiqueJul 28, 2022
Artemest has travelled all across Italy, working with the finest artisans to create bespoke luxury products. The work they release combines home décor, jewellery and fine art, with a specific focus on representing specific regions and the crafts practices that are endemic to them. As their website mentions, “Artemest was born to arouse and celebrate a desire for beauty in our daily lives.” They have undertaken a rather special project for this year’s Milan Design Week, featuring the work of Bradley Theodore, a street artist of great renown. Theodore was born in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and has worked for much of his career in New York. Artemest’s undertaking is called BLOW: Bradley Theodore Meets Murano, and it marries the artist’s work with the famous Murano glassblowing style, in order to produce a collection of one-of-a-kind glass pieces. Street art meets luxury Italian craftsmanship, bringing a pop art approach to a centenary tradition.
Theodore is currently based between Miami Beach and New York City, and is a practitioner of several disciplines, with a background in graphic design. His iconoclastic approach to art can be found internationally, from massive, 10-foot-tall murals on the streets of New York, Tokyo, and Milan, to sold out solo exhibitions in London. The artist began his career making vibrant renditions of pop culture and fashion royalty, on the streets of New York City, and today, he is considered a staple in the art and fashion scene across the globe.
Discussing the strange pairing, Artemest’s Branding, Marketing and Communications Manager, Giulia Scotti, tells STIR, ”Bradley has been a long-term friend of Artemest and we have always wanted to find the right collaboration with him, and the time finally was right this year: the collaboration has come about thanks to our Creative Director Ippolita Rostagno’s desire to bring a disruptive contemporary artist to the sanctuary of Italian craftsmanship, and to find out what would happen from the merger of the two. By reworking traditional Venetian symbols like the skull – which is ever-present in Bradley’s production as a motif meant to capture the essence of a person; symbolically “stripping away” the skin to go deeper in – mixed with Bradley’s childhood iconography from Turks and Caicos like starfish, lobsters, pineapples and corals, we have created a new take on the centenary tradition of Murano glassblowing and infused it with an eclectic dose of pop art.” Theodore travelled to the Murano region with Artemest’s team, and met each of the nine glass artisans that they brought onboard, becoming a true practitioner himself and experimenting with glass blowing, hand-engraving and painting on glass. The limited-edition collection of Murano glass pieces has been crafted by Covi e Puccioni, Fornace Mian, Fratelli Tosi, Luci Italia, Multiforme, Ongaro & Fuga, Specchi Veneziani, Venice Factory and Vetralia, and the entire creative journey undertaken by the artist has been captured on a short film, made especially for the Milan Design Week. The film is narrated through a camera lens, and features Theodore taking over the streets of Murano, venturing into the hidden “calli” and bringing fresh creative inspiration to the artisans’ studios, who are eager to rise to the challenge that the marriage of their practice to Theodore’s pop style presents.
BLOW is being showcased in the heart of Brera, which is Milan’s hallowed artistic district. The project manifests a colourful exhibition of custom-made Murano glass mirrors, chandeliers and home décor, that bridge the divide between design objects and artworks. As the press release for the project explains, “The unique combination of Theodore’s volcanic creativity and the Murano makers’ expertise gives life to an exuberant collection, reinterpreted through the artist’s visual vocabulary and colour palette. Through the gaze of a street artist, the Muranese ‘furnace’becomes the meeting point of two clashing yet complementary points of view, leading to unexpected creations of extraordinary impact: from a fully hand-engraved mirror in the shape of a lobster, to a 2.5-metre-tall pineapple mirror, to a blown-glass homage to the 17th century memento mori skulls.
Theodore seems quite happy to have participated in BLOW, and tells STIR “It was a great experience to go behind the scenes with the glassmakers, and draw inspiration from the history of Venice. The essence of art lies in freedom of expression and creative exchange, and I am honoured to have worked with the best in their field to create something new and exciting.” Marco Credendio, Co-Founder and CEO of Artemest, focused on the valuable bond that this project forms between contemporary and more traditional creative practices, and said “for Milan Design Week 2022, we are once again proud to showcase the inestimable value of Italian craftsmanship through the eyes of one of today’s best-known contemporary artists. BLOW by Bradley Theodore perfectly represents Artemest’s mission: to promote Made in Italy excellence globally and show that craftsmanship is a constantly evolving world.”
Artemest’s Co-Founder and Creative Director, Ippolita Rostagno, added to this, and highlighted what the project might mean for design in a larger sense. She said, “In a time when everything boasts the signet of design – from a toothbrush to a work of art – Artemest cast American artist Bradley Theodore in the hands of Murano artisans as author and provocateur. The result is a curated collection which witnesses the idea that “clash” and “culture” are no longer at odds. In these pieces, the viewer becomes part of the viewing experience through Bradley’s kaleidoscopic lens.” The merging of these artistic practices certainly suggests the possibility of a much more massive body of wonderful, collaborative pieces, and one hopes that Theodore and the Murano glassmakers join forces again. In a larger sense, it signals the potential that an eclectic blend of creative disciplines might hold. One may have found the merging of contemporary street art and historically significant glasswork to have been unlikely, and yet they have been blended here seamlessly, thanks to Artemest’s initiative. Who can say what the marriage of other distinct artistic modes might produce? One thing is for certain: it will be exciting to find out.
STIR takes you on a Milanese sojourn! Experience Salone del Mobile and all the design districts - 5vie, Brera, Fuorisalone, Isola, Zona Tortona, and Durini - with us. STIR’s coverage of Milan Design Week 2022, Meanwhile in Milan showcases the best exhibits, moods, studios, events, and folks to look out for. We are also excited to announce our very own STIR press booth at Salone del Mobile - Hall 5/7 S.14, Fiera Milano RHO.