ABET MEETS ARCHITECTS |1: MARCANTE TESTA

20 April 2020

Architects and interior designers, Marcante Testa (Arianna Testa and Andrea Marcante) are famous for their sophisticated and radical projects. The stylistic feature of the two designers is the balance between opposites: the historical quotation and the contemporary sign, the precious and the artificial material, the seriousness of the composition and the unexpected improvisation. « The apparent contradiction is what makes a space vibrant and human », they say. And in their dialectic laminate is always present.

Why do you use laminate?

Laminate has strength and durability advantages over lacquered wood. But above all it is an expressive choice, which specifies a style, gives us the opportunity to model visual effects. On furniture and panels we allow the assembly points between support and laminate to remain visible, in order to show the stratigraphy as an aesthetic detail. And for us it is also a means to do continuous quotations of historical icons, of archetypes: it is an essential material for the history of industrial design.

What is the relationship between artificial and natural in your projects?

There is no real contradiction between artificial and natural. One thing gives meaning to the other, as long as there is a thought on how to make this relationship explicit. We have often combined precious natural materials with laminates. It is an excuse to make luxury less bulky and to underline the artificial presence of a man made surface, which must be admittedly fake. The idea of expressing high / low, artificial / natural, manual / industrial opposition is valid. There is no deception. The more the fiction and artifice are evident, the more interesting they are.

The contrast between opposites must therefore be designed…

In the Duale table, produced by Sem, we designed a dialogue between two materials and two geometries at the antipodes of formal codes. Two tables in one: the round part in a very precious marble, the rectangular part in laminate. It is a piece of furniture in which the relationship between natural and artificial also unfolds in form, in the choice of thinking of a piece in which functions and languages overlap.

How important is sustainability in your design thinking?

Very. And we are aware of the fact that when it comes to interiors, sustainability is linked above all to the durability and resistance of the materials. We use laminates in the architectural parts of bathrooms and kitchens, in custom made furniture. The choice falls on the surface that best responds to our search for balance and visual contradictions.

Surface design is part of the iconography of the history of Italian design. How do you imagine it could evolve from a graphic or chromatic point of view?

The search for the graphic sign often has the function of making the neutral colors of a catalog sell better. It is difficult to be able to appropriate another designer’s graphic language to the point of choosing it for a durable surface. We would like to find in the catalogs of a brand like Abet of the reissues of Sottsass surfaces, there is no doubt. But it is rare that they are actually included in a contemporary project. A new element instead could be light in relation to slightly three-dimensional surfaces, which open up new aesthetic possibilities. Just as the textures are interesting, the tone-on-tone interventions, which modify the perception of the homogeneity of the top.