“Luxury is Investing in Research”
“What I try to do is tell the story of simplicity, elevate humble materials, give value to the creative process, and dismantle the idea of perfection. I believe that this is a sustainable approach and a path to sustainability,” says Duccio Maria Gambi, the Italian designer who has collaborated with Bitossi Ceramics to produce objects of luxury and function.
Bitossi Ceramiche is a culmination of heritage and creative collaborations with designers, who bring their perspectives that seem to highlight each one’s unique ideology. The latest collaboration that took roots from a Palazzo Podestarile exhibition commissioned by Museo della Ceramica di Montelupo to propose different creative cues to the art of ceramics, is the Duccio Maria Gambi x Bitossi Ceramiche. This collaboration is an exploration on giving new life to leftover materials, i frammenti. Departing from the five unique sculpture-like pieces made for the introductory exhibition, Duccio continues the narrative for Salone del Mobile 2023 where he traverses the possibility of reproducing the works in series.
The core creative idea and approach remains while the production logic, research and product development phase evolve to accommodate the new vision. Through a methodology that converges finality and research, Duccio begins by collecting biscuits and ceramics scraps from Bitossi’s workshops.
These bits are then fired in the kiln on a general base with coloured crystalline and enamel that not only brings the various elements together but also gives the resulting mass its vivid shades, dialogue in which colours become the unifying medium of variance.
The undertaking then continues with Duccio designing new forms that would give shape to the final objects, which once created, become the base in which the designer would apply once again the same process of unifying the new forms with the leftover materials. These fragments, now adjoined with Duccio’s original designs, result in completely new artworks.
Duccio, is a designer who has great knowledge of both the industrial and artisanal constraints and potentials thanks to his working experiences in design studios and artisan’s workshops. In particular, he has mastered a variety of creative production processes, in a wide range of scales, during a fundamental year-long experience working at Atelier Van Lieshout in Rotterdam.
SCALE speaks to this designer to understand his design process and how he views and creates luxury through design and whether sustainability is indeed a topic that can be brought into the discussion.
SCALE: Tell us about your collaboration with Bitossi and what do you as designer bring into this collaboration?
DUCCIO: Working with a brand from my own land, a mythological one where all the greatest have passed through and where you can breathe the passion for research, investigation, and the challenge that earth and fire offer, is a great satisfaction. As a designer, I bring the desire to learn and then intervene in the production processes. My creative process does not use matter to achieve a form, but the form to tell the story of the material, and that’s what I tried to do in this case as well. I am happy and thankful to Bitossi because I see a lot of courage and willingness to take risks in what they continually do.
SCALE: Duccio Maria Gambi had earlier produced work for Ceramica Dolce exhibition with Bitossi, Is this collaboration born out of that association? Your work for that collaboration was extraordinary, how different will this collaboration be?
DUCCIO: This collaboration is a natural extension of the relationship born during the production for the exhibition, which due to, or thanks to, Covid, extended from the planned 3 months to almost two years. In that case, my hand produced works that can be defined as sculptures. In this new chapter, the challenge was to develop serial and functional products, with all the production constraints this entails, knowing also that the specificity of my hand had to be replaced by an algorithm that allowed replicating the works. All this while trying to identify and not lose the basic aesthetic concepts and principles that had generated the first collection.
SCALE: Do you think that the design world is being inundated with products that are not being consumed or do you think that is the best time ever for creativity?
DUCCIO: We are inundated with useless products, first of all intellectually. But I also believe that good design is fundamental for education. It is a universal language, and it is necessary to use it to indicate the correct ways to approach our environment. That is why I think it’s a good time for creativity because we are rediscovering the value that is right to give to what we produce and being asked to support principles that go beyond the purely commercial, consumptive aspect.
SCALE: How do you bring in sustainable making through your work? How do you appease your inner soul when you make luxury products?
DUCCIO: What I try to do is tell the story of simplicity, elevate humble materials, give value to the creative process, and dismantle the idea of perfection. I believe that this is a sustainable approach and a path to sustainability. I believe that luxury, a certain kind of luxury supported by culture, is a form of support for research. For example, those who buy my products are investing in the research that exists behind each of them, financing work that does not follow the market but seeks to shape it in a direction considered correct.
Images Courtesy Bitossi