With Araldica, the new collection designed for CEDIT - Ceramiche d’Italia, the designer expresses some of the themes fundamental to the character and quality of his work. We asked Federico Pepe to tell us about Araldica, meeting CEDIT, and his inspiration for this project.
How did the collaboration with CEDIT come about?
‘The collaboration with CEDIT was born from a simple phone call. A few years back I was contacted over the phone by the brand. I think they’d seen the work I’d done for an installation in the then-Spazio Pontaccio, now Editions Milano – with whom I still collaborate. They wanted to get to know me, have a chat, and tell me a little about CEDIT, which, to be completely honest, I did not know of at the time. I’d never had a chance to work with this material. There was immediately a great chemistry between us, and so I decided to give it a g within a couple of weeks I’d sent them a few proposals.
For me it was really essential that I find a solution that meant something for them but also for me. I never feel the impending necessity to design something for a brand unless this represents a meaningful part in the overall scheme of my work across several disciplines. The same brand – on the strength also of Florim’s technological know-how – had the courage to undertake the project I felt was strongest’.
AraldicaThe collection arises from a mélange of stimuli. On the vast scale of large ceramic wall covering slabs, Pepe’s visual textures acquire the hypnotic, fascinating configuration of a variegated mixture of colors, inspired by those of traditional marbled papers. Used mainly in publishing or, more specifically, artistic bookbinding, these papers are produced using a very old decorative technique, in which a vast number of ‘clots’ of color emulate the infinite vein and dappling patterns of the surface of marble.
Where did this choice come from? Tell us about the research process that brought you to the final result.
‘“Araldica” reproduces the ancient technique of paper marbling on a solid surface. Le Dictateur – that now has opened a branding, communication and design studio alongside its gallery – has been fundamentally tied to Le Dictateur Press’ publishing work for years now. Actually, Le Dictateur was born as a publishing project. So it’s always been a passion of mine, and marbled papers are one of those variables that have always fascinated me. When I think of the publishing processes of yesteryear, I’m struck by the carefully hand-bound end-papers of old books, which are all similar but never the same: the hypnotic play of graphics obtained are always totally random.
Obviously the idea of visual displacement on paper, and of colors that recall marble but broaden your perception on a level that is impossible in nature really attracted and amused me. I spent a few days at an old binding workshop with my friend Monica De Filippis – she’s my ‘pusher’ for anything paper-related – selecting sheets of paper and colors. From there I began a lengthy reproduction and postproduction process to transfer that world on the ceramic slates’.
Federico Pepe - work in progressOn these extrovert, high-impact backgrounds, some of Pepe’s designs juxtapose two different graphic linear motifs, geometrically centered on the slab: a ‘coat-of-arms’ – a crest rather like a composite shield, alluding to the imagery of heraldry – and an ‘hourglass’ shape, consisting of two opposing isosceles triangles. The resulting product has an extreme graphic impact, referencing the topic of a disordered sense of sight – including hallucination – to evolve a ceramic collection with absolute originality of expression.
Federico Pepe - work in progressYour work is characterized by strong graphic connotations. How did you express your style in a project involving ceramic coverings?
‘Part of my portfolio is certainly characterized by a strong graphic style, but other parts are not at all. In this case part of the original request was also to graphically mark the collection, and, in any case, when I work on the two-dimensional, I always fall for it! I created a hybrid between the variable of marbled paper and a graphic element, which gives the collection its name – the HERALD, a sort of graphic shield typical of the Le Dictateur world. I ‘poured’ the colors and technique in there, and the result immediately felt vibrant, hallucinating. I wanted the collection to be a little hallucinating. It’s certainly neither neutral nor relaxing. I wanted to imagine rooms as if in continuous movement, always alive, in battle!’
In Araldica, Federico Pepe sends us a creative message that not only defines the aesthetics of a new ‘interior psychedelia’, but also investigates unusual formulae for perceptive interaction between decorated ceramics and the individual.
CEDIT - Ceramiche d’Italia on ARCHIPRODUCTS
Federico Pepe - work in progress
Federico Pepe - work in progress
Work in progress
Araldica - Blasone Blu - 120x240cm
Araldica - Base Grigio - 120x240cm
Araldica - Triangoli Blu - 120x240cm
Araldica - Blasone Blu e Triangoli Blu - 120x240cm
Archiproducts Milano - Via Tortona 31 - Araldica - Triangoli Corallo - 120x240cm
Spazio CEDIT (Foro Buonaparte 14)
Araldica - Blasone Blu, Triangoli Blu, Base Blu - 120x240cm
Araldica - close-up Base Grigio