With his fountains, Arthur Hoffner won the Public Award at the latest Design Parade at Villa Noailles, in Hyères. At the time, they were prototypes in attractive colours, made with recycled materials, and potentially of great interest, in terms of scale, function and final destination for the design. For the 2018 International Furniture Fair, the Carwan Gallery and Villa Noailles present the brilliant idea of the French designer, developed specially for the courtyard of the Hotel Senato, in Via Senato, Milan. In the pool, just a few centimetres deep, Hoffner’s large fountains show their full potential. They will then be transported to France for the next edition of the Design Parade, from 29 June to 14 September.
Why did you choose to work with fountains? Is it because of the water?
Design is very strongly linked to the idea of function. Actually, it’s a huge part of its definition. And Design history has showed us that there are so many ways to examine this question, from Bauhaus and Sullivan’s famous “Form Follows Function” to post-modern Design’s playful distancing, through Adolf Loos statements…
So the, fountain interested me because it’s a very ambiguous object viewed through the prism of function, and appears as something between a gadget and a magical artefact. It is also a purely decorative object, but one which does not receive the same interest from designers as vases or carpets.
The second reason is that fountains have a huge role in history and mythology. They are part of our cultural background and play an important role in our collective imagination. I think it is an important part of our job, as designers, to work on things that come from a distant past, in order to adapt and reinvent them for our contemporary world.
Finally, water is of course something essential to life. I realized that fountains are also particular because they occupy an area of negotiation between human-made artefacts and a fundamental natural substance, between a solid and liquid state. They are autonomous objects that make noise, create an atmosphere, and contain movement, actually, they are almost alive!
What about the materials you work with?
As I am working around water, I mainly use materials that are connected with water, and objects that convey or carry it at home. In this project and in the previous fountains, I used metal and PVC pipes, funnels and sponges, bowls and marble. For example, marble could seem quite a common material, but it is actually the marble of luxury bathrooms, the marble of roman baths.
I really tried to make a whole water references game of hints to find. Some of them are quite obvious, and others are maybe harder to find, but I hope that this way of working may be able to generate some meaning, to create a story behind the purely aesthetic.
Video interview together with Arthur Hoffner
Beside the Hotel Senato, where would you like to put a fountain of yours? If not in Milan, there is another space you think is especially suitable for your work?
The Senato Fountains will later be exhibited in Villa Noailles, and one of them will probably stay there. That’s something important to me because this artistic centre in the south of France is the starting point of this project. I would also love to see one of my fountains in another public space, a museum or a garden. Fountains are originally a social place where people met to drink water, wash their clothes or celebrate, and that is something i would like to pursue.
The most interesting feedback you received?
Some people told me that they were touched by the humour and poetry of my previous fountains, and I really appreciated their comments because these objects were made in order to create this kind of feeling, I wanted them to be light, funny but also narrative. Fountains carry this very important idea for me, as humour and poetry do : the essential folley.
But I have to say that the reaction of childrens was also very nice : they loved the colours and the technical mystery I created because they did not try to understand how it worked, but completely accepted the magical movement of the continuous water flow.
I am glad that a child, a design lover or a plumber may be interested by different things on very different levels with my fountains.
- Arthur Hoffner
- Hotel Senato
- via Senato, 22
- Opening dates:
- 17-22 April 2018