24/11/2021 - The first Not.O collection, the made-in-Sicily brand born from the encounter between designer Ferruccio Laviani and entrepreneur Felice Rizzotti, made its debut in Catania in the frescoed rooms of Palazzo Biscari.
The brand creates furniture items in which Sicilian tradition meets contemporary design for a 'Not Ordinary' result. Hence the name - Not.O - a synthesis of the project, a clear reference to the city of Noto and a desire to create a brand that can be immediately associated with Sicily.
Composed of four furniture containers - Avola, Caltagirone, Enna and Ribera - the collection combines industrial methods with the ancient knowledge preserved and handed down by artisans. 'To create the Ribera painting, we called on decorators who typically make Sicilian carts or souvenirs. We asked Caltagirone ceramists - the ones who make Moor's Heads or decorative pine-cone ceramics - to express their virtuosity by making the tiles that grace the furniture bearing the same name,' Felice Rizzotti and Ferruccio Laviani explain.
In a video interview during the presentation of Not.O in the frescoed rooms of Palazzo Biscari, Rizzotti and Laviani explain their meeting, their (shared) vision of Sicilian design and the brand's genesis.
Where does the name Not.O come from?
Felice Rizzotti: The brand name originated as a place-name for Noto, the Sicilian UNESCO heritage site jewel, as a tribute to its Baroque architecture. We started from our desire to reconnect to Sicilian identity. The concept was transformed into a more modern vision - Not.O, or 'Not Ordinary' - because the brand wants to approach international art markets with something out of the ordinary...
The project was in the pipeline for three years before today's official presentation. Can you tell us how the idea for Not.O grew and how the partnership came about?
Felice Rizzotti: The brand took shape after three long years of research, prototype after prototype. It finally saw the light of day with the collection's presentation. The project was born from my chance meeting with Ferruccio Laviani in July of 2018. We were in Taormina having dinner together, and we began to discuss ideas. We immediately imagined a project that could see design through a different lens. Ferruccio and I agreed on certain essential aspects like the concept of the 'function' of design. At the same time, we wanted to work on unique and exclusive features that would make the products potential 'icons'.
The brand's identity is closely linked to the identity of the land of your origins - Sicily. How did you manage to balance local tradition and new, unexpressed potential tied to your region?
Felice Rizzotti: Exactly. We customised our products using traditional artistic and artisanal processes from our land, reinterpreting them and translating them into design thanks to Ferruccio's vast experience that makes him an undisputed master.
You involved the artisans and decorators of some of Sicily's most symbolic objects - like carts and Moor's Heads. How did this collaboration come about?
Ferruccio Laviani: We tried to shift the comfort zone of the artisans towards something that is mentally distant from what they do so easily every day. This was not easy. In the end, we succeeded, and I think the result is absolutely impactful and out of the ordinary.
Avola, Caltagirone, Enna A/B and Ribera are the first fruits of a story that has just begun. A concept or an idea behind each piece.
Ferruccio Laviani: Caltagirone represents an idea that materialised in the use of ceramics to finish a piece of furniture. This was also the most difficult one - I won't deny it. Using Caltagirone crafts like majolica and Moor's Heads, we worked more on the idea of a sculpture that is closer to contemporary art than to traditional crafts. Avola is a graphic furniture item inspired by Greek decoration, part of the tradition of typically Sicilian verre painting and sacred representations on glass. On the other hand, Enna draws on futurism and a series of graphic works by Depero; pattern is central to this object. Ribera is a piece of furniture in which the high artistry of cabinetmaking is highlighted by a wooden grid. We involved the local artisans who typically make the famous boxes for tourists in a more artistic and innovative way.
How do the pieces in the collection dialogue with the beautiful setting of Palazzo Biscari?
Ferruccio Laviani: Palazzo Biscari is naturally important, with its almost hypnotic decoration and baroque spaces. Here, every detail has something to narrate. It is the triumph of the perfect decoration for this kind of project. It represents the evolution of the primary source of our ideas and what is now, more than 300 years later, the interpretation of what decoration means in a place like Sicily. The space does not predominate over the display of products; it becomes a place for dialogue, opening linguistic possibilities for reinventing decoration.
Rizzotti trading on ARCHIPRODUCTS