Farewell from Nicola Di Battista to his friend Giuseppe Basile

The former Domus director, colleague and friend of Giuseppe Basile, composes a moving tribute to the recently passed away art director, tracing the years of working together, and outlining his unique enthusiasm, dedication and professionalism.

Dear Friend,
once again, as always, you have made your own way and for the umpteenth time you surprised us. However, this time is different, and you are forcing me to write something I never wanted to: a goodbye, or rather the last goodbye. I am sure that because of the way you are, a goodbye would have been enough, you would not have wished for more. This time you have to excuse me, I cannot do it. This time, I cannot but add something, not much, but something more than just a goodbye.

Dear Giuseppe, I need to tell something about you. I would like to write about the summer that has just ended, a different summer than any other for us. As usual, August was the only month of the year when we hardly ever heard from each other, me as always in France and you who knows where. This time, however, was different. You stayed in Milan and we phoned each other almost every day, to make small talk, but above all to pursue our many projects and in particular the one we cared about most of all. Day after day our summer was filled with long chats in which we also reminded ourselves we have basically been working for decades following our passions – you graphics and me architecture – and I am sure, dear Giuseppe, I can tell you now, that we have achieved together an excellent synthesis of form and content. Our work is not the result of a sudden lightning bursts, but of a slow, constant and patient search for a work well done. 

How many conversations, how many arguments, how many thoughts and how many tests were behind your – no, actually behind our – layouts. How many InDesign layouts went back and forth via the web among our mailboxes, corrected and recorrected several times, and often received at the most unlikely hours, even at 3 a.m. We did not care about time, but to end the work only when we were fully satisfied with the result. 

I have no doubt that our working relationship – or as I used to say, our way of working – may have seemed strange and bizarre to many, but not to us. It was our life and believe me, we have evidence that it worked. 

You put up with things from me that you would not put up with from anyone else, and, I have to tell you, a few times I did it with you, too. You were always ready to go on with me, to start again, joyful as a child, able to get excited about little things, and then onward putting in all your skills, peculiar to the craft of a graphic designer.

There is no graphic designer, as you liked to call yourself, who has created layouts for forty years on so many architectural projects and thousands of architects different from each other.

Dear Giuseppe, you must realize and I do not know if you were fully aware of it, that you leave an unbridgeable void. First of all, a void as a person for those who were lucky enough to be your friends, but also and above all as graphic designer. There is no graphic designer, as you liked to call yourself, who has created layouts for forty years on so many architectural projects and thousands of architects different from each other. 

We often – and inappropriately – talk about communicating architecture. Through your work, you have made simple and great sense of what this means, namely, being able to convey architecture by masterfully putting together photos and texts on paper. It is said that you must see architecture in person to know it, and that is certainly right. However, it is equally true that through your layouts one can grasp the very essence of architecture, even without having seen it live.

Perhaps the miracle was achieved because of your use of graphics and its tools, starting with your obsession with the “cage”, the graphic plot to be followed or – as you many times did – to be disregarded, but always aware that you had to start from there. This led you to use your craft to achieve what we can call, in a way, a kind of normality of graphic design, which you always pursued in your work. Today, we are left with thousands and thousands of printed pages in your dear Domus, which are there to remind us of you and your magnificent work, useful for sure to anyone who wants to discover and study what architecture is.

No one can erase these pages. 

My dear Giuseppe, you have now left on your last journey, but I instead imagine you flying, as you often did, to your beloved Los Angeles.

Sincerely, your Nicola

Latest on News

Latest on Domus

Read more
China Germany India Mexico, Central America and Caribbean Sri Lanka Korea icon-camera close icon-comments icon-down-sm icon-download icon-facebook icon-heart icon-heart icon-next-sm icon-next icon-pinterest icon-play icon-plus icon-prev-sm icon-prev Search icon-twitter icon-views icon-instagram