The kitchen as a space where aesthetics meets knowledge. And Norse mythology.

Ursus di Duilio Forte @Stanze. Altre filosofie dell’abitare (Triennale Design Museum).

Stories capable of opening a portal to an unexpected multiverse: the space in the kitchen becomes a gateway to a world of imagination, story-telling and traditions. This is the way you feel when enter the world of Ursus: the most ancient of Scandinavian legends come to life in a living space created inside a giant wooden bear. A little abode whose central core revolves around food and conviviality amidst zoomorphic sculptures connected to mythological references. 

Duilio Forte, a Swedish-Italian architect and artist, has answered the invitation to participate in “ROOMS. Novel living concepts” by creating a work straight out of a Gothic fairy tale that can be explored from head to paw, curated by Beppe Finessi. The exhibit, open to the public until 12 September 2015 at the Triennale di Milano design museum is a reflection on interior design and everyday living. The exhibition itinerary wends its way through eleven rooms staged by the big names of Italian design: Alessandro Mendini, Andrea Anastasio, Manolo De Giorgi, Duilio Forte, Marta Laudani e Marco Romanelli, Lazzarini Pickering Architetti, Francesco Librizzi, Fabio Novembre, Carlo Ratti Associati, Umberto Riva, and Elisabetta Terragni. 

The designers involved come from different generations and backgrounds and employ different project approaches: each one was invited to create their own “room” based on their own particular “living concept”. Each designer was then assigned one of today’s major thinkers: philosopher Francesco M. Cataluccio has selected relevant literary and philosophical reference texts for each project to pave the way to new reflections. 

Thus the 1980’s cult novel by Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, is tied into Fabio Novembres egg room. “Existence and the choices each one of us makes over the short or long term are, according to Kundera, completely irrelevant: this is where their lightness lies. The only thing mankind should be able to say about existence to give it some meaning is that it is a necessity ... The room designed by Fabio Novembre is a sort of head that necessarily and with irony associates architecture with the shapes of the body and the room with the head, with its perfectly habitable cavity.” (Francesco M. Cataluccio). 

On the other hand, Ursus, the work by Duilio Forte, is associated with those thinkers who wonder about the rediscovery of concrete action, typical in times of crisis. The pantheon of thinkers associated with Ursus offer a moment of broad reflection on a few of the major issues facing contemporary living. In The Craftsman, American sociologist Richard Sennett exalts and updates the image of a craftsman as a worker who derives satisfaction by searching for almost perfect work in manual labour performed artfully and with expertise. In Futuro artigiano, Stefano Micelli sounds cautionary note about new production technology, such as 3D printers, that pose a potential risk to mankind’s contributions to manufacturing. In Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, Chris Anderson argues that the most brilliant innovators are turning the world of industrial production upside down, producing and distributing their own creations by themselves, aided by the web and new technologies. These reflections are perfectly in line with the vision of Duilio Forte, who mixes equal parts of craftsmanship and fantasy into his work.

In his mysterious study-dwelling, AtelierForte, occupied by giant dragons, dinosaurs, and Sleipnir -the mythical eight-legged steed-, Forte spans land art and architecture, sculpture and design/video, builds projects and makes objects with his hands that clearly reference Norse mythology. The Ursus room bears the hallmark of this same multifarious visionary ability. Inspired by the wild bears that live in the forests and on the ice floes of the Great North, the interior is colonised by a great many objects, sculptures, books and pictures connected with the Scandinavian world, mythology and travel. Sculptures of the dwarf, Fafnir, Odin’s legendary steed, Sleipnir, and his crows, Huginn and Muninn, are just some of the works that populate the Great Bear.

In the head/entrance to Ursus there is a sauna to purify the mind and body. From there you move on to the main room, the body, split into two levels: two small bathrooms below and a bed above.

The central space, dedicated to conviviality, has a long zoomorphic wood table at the centre and a kitchen. This is the hub of the living space -a place to relax and share, sitting around a table set with ceramic plates, flatware and candles. The ambiance is rendered all the more surreal with animal-shaped iron sculptures floating above the table. Crockery and bottles dangle from their paws. They are suspended in the air of this space that blurs the boundaries reality and fantasy. Truth be told, in every kitchen there ought to be an archetypal space where Ursus highlights and underscores the very nature of a meeting place and the hub of the home: this is a place for conversation, food and drink, and the exchange of views, the pleasures of life and contemplation. A space that, if appropriately inhabited and enjoyed, can foster the meeting of aesthetics and knowledge.




Forte_1: copyright Salone del Mobile.Milano

Rooms: Novel living concepts/XXI Triennale International Exhibition/ Duilio Forte/photos by Andrea Martiradonna

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