By the early 1970s Italian design was surfing the peak of the radical wave, where the mixture of pop suggestions, utopian instances, and exaltations of completely indeterminate and artificial habitats such as Archizoom's Non-Stop City was crossing a new season for Italian industry. Brands such as Poltronova and Abet became inextricably linked to that period, but the consolidating landscape was broader and much more complex.
Nanda Vigo in those years already had to her credit collaborations, realizations and projects that made known her ideational independence, her language of sharp lights and colors generating timeless and dreamlike places – Chronotopes as some of them were called – and an almost newborn brand, Driade – the creation laboratory joined over the years by Vigo, Mari, Mendini among others – was accelerating imaginative research in the field of furniture design.
Vigo's relationship with Domus would generate a multiplicity of ideas across the decades, and in 1972 one of these ideas involved Driade in the conception of a “Casa che non c’è” (house that doesn’t exist – yet) a free open space within a simple and replicable structure, in which the visual power of the furnishings, almost abstract signs and blocks of color, generates the function and atmosphere of each room. The project was published on Domus issue 507 in February of that year.
A house that doesn't exist
Designed by Nanda Vigo and carried out as a “proposal" by Domus magazine and Driade, this non-existing house could, though, be set up in a very short time, since every element, every piece of furniture, every object in it is available on the Italian market — in a factory, in a shop, in an art gallery.
The house is based on a very clear concept: a “box” with a perimeter load-bearing structure, in order to have a completely free interior space, and with an extremely simple exterior configuration – the only significant element, the “continuous” window running along the perimeter – in order to fit into the landscape in a non-aggressive way.
Inside, a “studio” of more than two hundred square meters, geometrically divided into three zones (common area, parents' area, children's area) through the sole use of the furniture, the containers themselves, modular parallelepipeds aligned and overlapping that define and screen the zones in a variable way, and, at the same time, absorb in their compact and neutral volume the functions and presences of many disparate minor pieces of furniture. The common area is the central zone, intended for living and dining; the two side zones, autonomous, are the sleeping areas: the zone for parents includes, in addition to the bed and dressing room, a space for resting; children’s (two children) zone adds to the beds a space for study and play. The services – separated from the “studio” by modular glass and aluminum walls – are directly connected to the areas they relate: the kitchen and laundry to the common area, the toilets and bathrooms to the sleeping areas.
This very simple distribution of zones in an open living space seems to be able well to fulfill the needs of a modern family, that is, of a way of living that is simplified and free, and relieved from the oppressing presence, both physical and mental, of a fixed and characterizing architecture.
The meaning of Nanda Vigo's proposal lies in the geometric and luminous voidness of this elementary, space-time, “chronotopic” volume, inside which the modular compositions of the containers allow all kinds of variation and free addition of chosen objects.
It is especially noteworthy that the entire arrangement of this interior was implemented with elements from a single production: modular elements, whose great flexibility of use was exploited in all its possibilities, and individual furniture. All by Driade.
The art pieces that appear in the room were provided by the galleries-Barozzi, Colophon, Studio Bellini-Adac, Studio Marconi, the Sergio Tosi collection in Milan, and the Ferrari gallery in Verona. Ceramics by II Sestante and Cedit. Arredoluce lamps. Flooring in “needlepoint” Nonwoven.