Italian design: The philosophy of Design

Sep 15, 2018 28

What do design and philosophy have in common? Nothing? Or everything? Behind every design process there is a philosophical quest and every philosophical approach has a precise design. No-one knows this better than Andrea Anastasio, who’s philosopher and designer identities are interwoven. 

The career of Andrea Anastasio started as a philosopher. He studied Modern Languages in Rome, then went to Venice to study Eastern religions and Sanskrit. He dreamt for years to stay in the academic world, drawn by the slow pace of study, the possibility to exchange ideas and the dialogue. However that artistic streak was there all along, as Andrea himself recalls: indeed, as a young students he painted, constructed objects and made small sculptures. Andrea always looked at the artistic world with great fascination, with the respect that all philosophers have for any process that investigates the human being and its limitations.

One encounter and a shift of path

Sometimes only one encounter is enough to change the direction of our life: for Andrea Anastasio it was meeting Ettore Sottsass at a party, while wearing a broach he made himself. The artistic eye of Ettore noticed it immediately and asked Andrea if he was a designer. Andrea replied he was a philosopher, and Ettore Sottsass could not hide his fascination. They met again and talked about everything, I can only suppose that this was the moment when philosophy met design, the moment when Andrea started to connect these two worlds.

It was only until some time later, and almost by coincidence, in a playful way, that Andrea Anastasio  entered officially in the design world. He had made a lamp and ended up bringing it to the workplace of Ernesto Gismondi, founder of Artemide Group, for him to have a look. Gismondi didn’t, instead he introduced Andrea to Giancarlo Fassina, and they started working the whole day, in total freedom: at the end of the day they were designing three possible lamps for Artemide.

A few days later, Andrea found out that Ernesto Gismondi had decided to produce a collection with his signature, Andrea was obviously thrilled about this possibility but he also felt unease. After all he was a philosopher, what did he know about design? How did he even get there? His academic background, where every achievement is a conquer, didn’t allow him to process the facility of events.

Immediately from that first lamp, called “T(h)rough(gh)”, produced by Artemide, Andrea Anastasio started to experiment with the creative process, and to add hints of his philosophy studies.

Andrea felt that the shoes of a designer never fit him quite right; in spite of keeping collaborating with several artists, he kept going back to what he knew best: he went back to India to study. Although it may seem he was escaping, in reality he was just researching what design and its process meant to him. Growing as a designer for Andrea means, to evoke the condition of extraordinary vulnerability we live in, a vulnerability that must be seen and defended because it carries extraordinary reflections, profound intuitions.

Nowadays, after having explored ancient cultures as well as the frontiers of design, Andrea Anastasio can wear the hat he prefers; no one doubts he can be a philosopher and a designer.

His last achievement, one last validation he is not an outsider to the design world, was the “Best of Year award” in the Table Lamp category of 2017, he won it with “Filo” by Foscarini. This lamp is a deconstructed experiment, as the cord is exposed and looped around a hook. Andrea feels that “Filo” embodies the artistic and philosophical idea that has been the center of his work: the never-ending quest to find the border between function and beauty. He says that “Filo is about stripping down the lamp to just its component parts. I was fascinated about how I could transform the electrical wire into the main ornament o the lamp.”

Filo, which in Italian means wire but it is also a short way to refer to filosofia (philosophy), so “Filo” is a lamp that, from its name to its concept, shows us that design and philosophy can (or should?) go hand by hand.

“Creation did not happen just once, it happens all the time.” Andrea Anastasio

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