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Interviews | April 9, 2019

Gaetano Pesce

Considered to be one of the most influential artists of contemporary culture, the Italian architect (but also design pioneer and urban planner) loves to push boundaries between art, design and industry. His motto? Never lose your curiosity

words Marzia Nicolini

Architect, artist, designer, urban planner. Which of these definitions do you feel you belong to?

Belonging to a certain expressive category depends on what one is doing at that precise moment. This means that if today I dedicate myself to a project that proves to be of architectural interest, then I consider myself an architect, but if tomorrow I deal with another kind of design, my title will change.

How would you define your design credo in a few words?

Experimenting is essential for those like me who create. Creation has nothing to do with repetition, but concerns the unexpected, the discovery, the revelation. It is the opposite of merely repeating actions and thoughts. The constant flow of time offers us new values which we should try to interpret in order to express them. I think the work of the creative should never be the same, from the beginning of his activity until his death. This is what our age requires and teaches us.

Let us now turn to your points of reference. Who are the creators inspiring you and your work?

Michelangelo’s contradictions have always intrigued me. And the impressionism of Masaccio too. The joy and lightness of Giovanni Bellini have always intrigued me. Caravaggio’s distress has taught me a lot about how to control things. The variety of Bernini’s production has suggested some behaviours to me, while Borromini was a great teacher, together with Duchamp and Le Corbusier. But I should also mention Brunelleschi, Mantegna, Alberti and Tiziano.

You can boast a varied and vast production. Among your many projects is there one you are most fond of, and why so?

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of an important work about the imprisonment of women, about their absence of autonomy, about the stupidity of men: their greatest fears. I still dream of an independent and free kind of woman, who can enjoy life according to her personal aspirations. The future will be feminine and it will be the key to solving the big problems of the current world.

What are you currently working on?

These days I’m designing a new furniture collection, a house conceived as a portrait, plus I’m taking care of some important exhibitions in Europe and United States. Work can be an extremely healthy medicine, provided it is never repetitive. The idle mind, as Goya used to say, creates monsters.

Your typical day (if it does exist)?

I love to work…

A big dream that you would like to achieve?

The Pluralist Tower: the project of a skyscraper, where each floor is designed by a different architect. A building that represents the idea of democracy, different opinions, beliefs, values, aspirations and diversity. Architecture, inhabiting the public space, is by definition political and it has nothing to do with the building formalism that today seems to be everywhere.

You’ve worn glasses for a long time. Do you remember the first model you wore?

I started wearing glasses for reading at the age of 50. I usually wear them on my forehead, buying them in pharmacies. You know those glasses that cost between 7 and 8 dollars?

Men and women wearing glasses. What do you think about that?

Eyewear, especially sunglasses, is often used to mask yourself. I believe some models are extremely interesting, but there are many trivial ones. Everything, when wearing glasses, depends on the creativity of the single person. This is what makes the biggest difference. In 1973, I dedicated the ‘Study for asymmetrical glasses’ project to eyewear. That year I began to think about figuration and abstraction, also through glasses. For me they no longer represented the elegant accessory that we put on our face, but, for example, through their shapes they could recall the profession of those wearing them, a landscape we love, the religion we believe in… Glasses wearing a message that was the meaning.

You have been living in New York for a long time. How do you see Italy from that side of the Ocean?

I still think that Italy is a country with enormous value. However, for some time now, I do perceive a wave of envy in many Italians. Envy is that state of mind that prevents one’s good idea from being recognized and realized by another. Envy resets the energies. Envy leads to immobility and is what seems to be happening in my country.

Do you have a life motto?

Be always curious. Curiosity is a travelling companion of great help to us: it prevents us from boredom, it opens our eyes, it keeps our mind wide awake.