Poltronova and the forest of impertinent objects

In Bruxelles an exhibition explores the “insurrectional“ language of a bunch of designers against conventions and good rules of style, driven by the faith in the power of dreaming big.

Img.1 Oggetti nella foresta - Jouets à jouer, Italian Culture Institute, Bruxelles, Centro Studi Poltronova

Fifty years after it’s difficult to understand how the the bourgeois conventions were swept away by the shattering force of the the radical creations by Poltronova. “Bomb-objects” and “Trojan horses”, two made up definitions used to describe them, are still capable of giving the idea of the earthquake into the collective mind, accostumed to industrial products and well-poised wall pictures. Even more so when someone thinks about how unlikely those expressions could be applied to the current production. But then, between 1969 and 1973, in the hands of a handfull tuscan designers, it was an event of ridiculous proportions in terms of vitality and unmistakable links with Pop art, Las Vegas, and advertising industry. Actually, beyond ridiculous. Like Ettore Sottsass – former Poltronova art director – one said referring to the small lights embedded under the fiberglass surface of its Mobili grigi collection: “Could there be anything more ridiculous than this?” And therefore: of a lamp shaped as a palm tree called Sanremo? Or of a giant baseball glove chair called Joe, as in Marilyn Monroe DiMaggio husband? With time, these bizarre( never ending dream fragments) became classics, but nevertheless not a bit less worthy of a good celebration review. 

Oggetti nella foresta - Jouets à jouer, the one just inaugurated at the Institute of italian cuture in Bruxelles by Centro Studi Poltronova has also the benefit of a unique feature in the documentation history of this radical design experience: for the first time all the products made under Poltronova supervisions are displayed under a single roof location. No one is left out. From the Superonda couch to the clam-lamp Gherpe by Superstudio; from Mies chair by Archizoom Associati to the Ultrafragola mirror by Ettore Sottsass. So that to fully comprehend this language that preferred “a postcard – like horizon complete with rainbow” to scientific progress – as declared by Archizoom inside the pages of October 1967 Domus 455 – no one is forced to dig into the Poltronova catalog in order to gain a complete spectrum. Otherwise Donatello D’Angelo set design would have been compromised in its concept, which consists in a series of rooms modeled over the painting series “città trasparenti” by Alberto Savinio. In which “flowers, bushes, flowing foliage, gloves magically become a lamp, mirror, sofa and armchair”. Isolated in their cromatic power through a “terrain” made of jammed black baloons. The effect is clearly of a forest, albeit made of plastic. Funny indeed, but loaded with the exact ambiguity of the late sixties, when among overabundance of signs and social instabilities a dream escapade could represent both freedom and a trap. 

Oggetti nella foresta - Jouets à jouer
Until October the 13th
Italian Culture Institute
Rue de Livourne 38, 1000 Bruxelles

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