Studio Alchimia @ Nuove Intenzioni del Design

You don’t really know what design is anymore, and talking about design, happy or unhappy, fails you; rock has saved your life.

Exhibition & Publication Studio Alchimia @ Nuove Intenzioni del Design, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 18 April 1982

Studio Alchimia with A. Mendini, “Il Mobile Infinito”, Architectural Faculty, Milan, September 1981.


You don’t really know what design is anymore, and talking about design, happy or unhappy, fails you; rock has saved your life. It seems to you then that a piece of furniture or a book or a Studio Alchemy exhibition should be like going to hear Talking Heads or see Flashes on the Water, that is, that the sensations were very strong, that designs and drawings resonated in your head at maximum volume for a long time and even after a while you couldn’t quite hear what the girl with you is telling you and you’d like to take home with you.

For just as you need the girl you need to be disrupted by a very unquiet project,, coming from Warsaw and Berlin, from Zurich and London, and Rotterdam and Milan, from here straight through public gardens with Milanese pomposity called Park and instead uniquely precious for their total foreignness to any Central European conception of garden architecture and instead didactically urban and full of young prostitutes and quiet couples with beautiful children or even ugly ones and parents prisoners of their evolved profession or of their living and living in the Milanese hinterland i.e. one of the saddest landscapes of my life that even today that it is sunny sucks among these really ugly houses neither trivial nor decorated where only it must be really sad and terrible to swim between gray brown and dirty green which are then the flag colors of the Italian urban landscape. That is, the ninety-nine percent not designed by any one of us, architect, designer, decorator, musician, graphic designer, director, makeup artist, costume designer, set designer or painter, who mysteriously pops up from there and who you can find instead intent on playing hard diamond rock at Alchemy Studio, pulling in personal stories of intellectual, liberai, radica], leftist, pro-fascist anarchist, neo-modernist, postavant-garde or, worst of all, post-modernist. Which now it seems we all are, even Eno and Bowie and Guerriero: and even Muzio, whom serious post-moderns meanwhile move hither and thither among critical categories, waiting to stuff with stylistic and constructive characters of monuments the lousy Italian urban landscape, this “loaf of garbage” as of other things LV says who is good at finding odorous insults, used to rummaging with philological rigor in hospices in search of the other half, of our beloved/hated mothers/lovers. And I, too, but without any rigor and with much respect called a timer Popova as one can call a sofa Kandissi and a bookcase Oscar (and again Lissiski, Libera and Maiakiosk o) at the Alchemy Studio, this kind of nowhere land or Utopia that precisely is not easy to explain also because one does not explain this way of hearing and responding immediately in this continually interrupted conversation (precisely it happens often to be interrupted in the continuous flow of journalists, critics, industrialists, hustlers, wise men, gymnasts and madmen who have come to see the Child who will work miracles), this monologue with architecture, design, costume, fashion, theater, art, makeup, music, graphics.

The home of a specter that still roams Europe, much more diaphanous and solid, soft and aggressive, colorful and colorless, omnipresent and ready to vanish never to be seen again or to reappear, at the theater, at Carnevale, at Cinecittà, in a Munich Palace, in a fashion show at Florence Station, in Reggio Emilia, increasingly resembling a post-atomic rock, unwilling to be played by the merchants at the Fair, or in the young, modern showrooms of Tokyo, New York and Milan, so enamored of melodious remakes of Tennessee blues.

A Studio ready to transform itself into a serious professional band, determined to move show-business, objects, products, architecture, real and marked by a slight heat, like the alchemical fever of its adherents, that will never leave them again, a caducous malady that will still make them play and dance “dancing to a rock and roll station.”

Stefano Casciani

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