Salone del mobile and Fuorisalone 2019

Masquespacio for Poggi Ugo: venerable terracotta with a contemporary formula

The Spanish studio’s project for Milan Design Week is a comprehensive restyling of an age-old material that brings terracotta into the home.

Masquespacio for Poggi Ugo

Regular visitors to Milan Design Week, Ana Milena Hernández Palacios and Christophe Penasse, professionally known as Masquespacio, have come as protagonists to Milan this time with a refined project for Poggi Ugo, a 100-year-old company specialising in the production of Impruneta terracotta. In “Land” – curated by Valentina Poggi Ottobri in the loft of Martina Gamboni’s Strategic Footprints – a traditionally outdoor material is given form and colour without undermining its refined manual production and enters the home.

How did your partnership with the renowned Poggi Ugo company originate?
Valentina Guidi Ottobri: At a time when climate change is transforming the appearance of our landscapes, we are forced to ask how we can regain ideological purity and a respect for nature. The earth worked by artisans is the concrete application of this concept. Hence the idea of employing terracotta but from a new angle. I chose Masquespacio because they would be able to reinterpret Poggi Ugo’s century-old history of excellence in a contemporary formula.

What about working with the artisans? Did you challenge their usual work processes?
We brought huge challenges to the company. This is a comprehensive restyling ranging from a meticulous search for retro details to fusions with other materials such as Baldi crystal and Mariotti’s silipol. The greatest challenge lay in the thought process not the actual manufacture. The artisans are outstanding at what they do and we have much to learn from them. Artists such as Antonella Andrei, co-proprietor of the company, work with the kilns. She and Lorenzo Andrei have always dreamt big and, after filling the loveliest gardens Europe-wide, they took their vases overseas. This was another challenge – featuring interior designers and architects.

Some of the products from the Masquespacio’s collection for Poggi Ugo in the Strategic Footprints penthouse in via De Amicis 19, Milan. Photo Henrik Blomqvist

What should the relationship between a designer and an artisan be like?
Masquespacio: As designers, our first need is to understand a company’s products; what it manufactures and how. We aim to drive the artisans to progress while retaining their traditional techniques but respect and understand the beauty of a handmade object with its imperfections. You must also be open to small design changes, to adapt to the artisans’ work methods.

Mediterranean colours and moods are recurrent presences in your projects and are driving factors in this project, too…
We have used coloured glass and granite in some designs to add a touch of colour to the overall collection to contrast with the terracotta but the collection is primarily terracotta. The beauty lies in the very colour of the terracotta, which changes with the days and seasons, and according to its surrounding space. It is a colour that changes and evolves during its lifetime. For the Milan exhibition, we added a touch of colour inside and outside. We wanted to show how terracotta products can be used into any space, including indoors.

What were the challenges and limitations of this material when applied to interior furnishings?
We found no major limitations when we brought this material indoors but we did feel a need to mix it with warmer and softer materials and colours. We have developed this series of products that are more like sculpted objects.

Ana Milena Hernández Palacios and Christophe Penasse (Masquespacio). Photo Henrik Blomqvist

Rather than being an outdoor material closed in an interior design, the outdoor space seems to be bringing light and colour indoors, as in other projects of yours. What effect were you pursuing?
We wanted to show that the natural beauty of terracotta, normally applied outdoors, will shine in a contemporary interior and give it that added extra. We come from countries where there is a lot of rain and bad weather (Colombia, ed. note) but now live in Valencia, a city where the sun shines 300 days a year so we are well aware of the positive impact of light on moods. The happiness created by light on a daily basis has become a part of us and this may be why it impacts on the interiors we design. Except for certain particular cases, we always try to bring light into interiors using materials, bright colours and as much natural light as possible.

Is this your first Milan design Week? What were your expectations? What are your plans for this busy week?
We came to Milan for the first time in 2015 and have been back every year since then for Design Week. We see it as the most stimulating event of the year. As well as presenting the exhibition and products designed for Poggi Ugo, we have a piece in the “Doppia Firma” exhibition of the Fondazione Michelangelo at Villa Mozart. We’ll be in Milan all week and will try to visit the most important locations in search of inspiration, such as Ventura Centrale, Brera Design District and a quick visit to Tortona, mostly to visit the Moooi presentation as we do every year. We haven’t planned exactly which venues to visit yet but, as every year, our diary certainly features the Hèrmes, Cos, Dimore, Louis Vuitton and Wallpaper exhibitions.

Opening picture: some of the products from the Masquespacio’s collection for Poggi Ugo in the Strategic Footprints penthouse in via De Amicis 19, Milan. Photo Henrik Blomqvist

Curated by :
Valentina Guidi Ottobri
Poggi Ugo
Strategic Footprints
via De Amicis 19, Milan

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