CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ARTISTIC PATH AND THE EXPERIENCES THAT CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR EDUCATION?
After graduating in Architecture at the Politecnico in Milan I started experimenting as a designer of mechanical parts, in the cycling field, thanks to Dodici Cicli. At the same time, I was DJ at the Atomic Bar, I was active in the street art scene in the early 2000s and I painted. After several years studying and surfing in San Sebastian, I opened my first workshop in Copenhagen, collaborating actively with Bureau Detours, a creative organization interested in the social value of public spaces.
Returning to Milan, I got back to interior design and consequently to product design.
Interacting with carpenters and blacksmiths, who were responsible for the realization of the products based on my draws, increased my desire to go back to dealing with production in first person. I wanted to improve that segment of the process.
I was given this opportunity when I got in touch with the designer and carpenter Alfred von Escher, that at the time was setting up a shared workshop in conjunction with the production of Base Milano furniture.
That's where I was told: “There's a welding machine there, if you want to try it”. So, to improve the communication between designer and blacksmith, I began to deal personally with welding and ironworking.
In that context, the limited tools were immediately balanced by the exploration of stylistic possibilities, a process that has contributed to the recognizability of my production, a short circuit that allowed me to go from an idea to its prototype without the mediation of drawing.
The items I produce are like models that can be tested one by one, on which I can make adjustments, from which I can continuously learn. They are opportunities to become more in tune with the materials and study their limits.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION YOU WORK WITH AND THE INITIATIVE THAT BROUGHT YOU TOGETHER?
Inside Officine Base, Alfred and I worked together with other professionals with different experiences and skills.
The collaboration between "craftsmen" — definition that may not always convey the idea of the various creative and professional profiles — gave me the opportunity to realize projects in which the synergy between the skills of individuals led to results that went beyond expectations.
The creation of an organization with a horizontal structure and great individual freedom is a slow and fragile process, where the opportunities for exceptional production are quite rare and difficult to cultivate.
Pursuing this potential, after moving to Bovisa, we successfully integrated within the workshop spaces, in addition to various woodworking and ironworking types, also ceramics thanks to Coni Rossi, while other areas are still being implemented such as tailoring and printing.
The ambitious vision shared by our organization is that of a workshop where a range of experience and workmanship are as heterogeneous as possible to access the most suitable solutions, and at the same time give the opportunity to exchange experiences in different areas and possibilities of expression outside the specialization of the individual.
An example is the production of ceramics that I had the opportunity to create together with Coni Rossi.
The recurring elements of my way of working when I deal with iron return in ceramics completely reinterpreted.
The experience of working with a different material gave me the opportunity to return to my primary area of expertise with new perspectives and ideas.
A CLOSER LOOK AT YOUR PARTICULAR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MATERIAL AND WITH THE SHAPES YOU USE.
Somewhat like Le Corbusier's five principles of architecture that are found in his architectural projects but not always all present at the same time, I also have some basic principles that I have never stopped to crystallize, but that return, more or less consciously, in the work I do.
I have an innate tendency to think that raw materials should be used without "waste".
I really like working with iron rods, both rebars —with the typical improved adherence surface, that I find very expressive, almost as if it were the natural appearance of iron — and smooth iron rods.
The leftover parts of the rod are then regularly used for other productions that require shorter pieces, so that over time a sort of balance is created between what is left over and what is reused.
I show with a certain pride the half-empty box of scrap rod that I have accumulated over the years of work, it never fills up because even for the shortest pieces there comes the time to be used.
The rod for me is what comes closest to the physical representation of the vectors of forces that are released on the ground. The interplay of geometry that leads to the forces being released onto the ground is what gives shape to many of the furnishings I have made using this material.
The process of creating a project is often driven by a sequence of complication and simplification, each addition to the object is followed by a subtraction to minimize the consequences on the form.
I also find that a contemporary feature of a piece of furniture is the possibility to stack it and it is also a good point for everything that involves ease of transport, storage and adaptability to space.
HOW DO YOU RELATE TO THE SENSE OF TEMPORARINESS OF THE MATERIAL AND ITS PERISHABILITY?
This is one of my key points in the design and creation of furnishing items: I always try to produce items that are ready to face the passage of time.
I believe that you have to take care of the objects you surround yourself with, that you have to fix them, that you can adapt them to different circumstances.
I am sure that the signs of time make them more fascinating and that they should be handed down.
That's why I always strive to make projects that simplify this process, that are durable, almost indestructible, or that can be easily reused as raw material.
One example of the consequences of this thinking is what has marked my ironworks for years: the lack of painting.
It happened several times that I had to modify an object after a while due to a change of destination and thanks to the fact that it hadn't been painted, there were no problems in resuming work on it.
It's not always easy to conciliate the consequences of this thought with the needs of the clients, as the above-mentioned example highlights. But there are many ways to achieve this objective, you only have to find the right one.
WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION WITH THE PAST?
I started getting good marks in history when I discovered that I could understand it without having to learn it by heart, making up for my inability to keep dates, places and names in mind.
My connection with the past is trying to learn from those who came before us, following their reasoning and then being able to apply it every day in new projects. And sometimes getting the same result as them without even knowing it.
It happened that I was told: "How beautiful is that reference to Eames" and then I discovered that the structure I had designed for a table was identical to the one of the great master.
On the one hand I was a little embarrassed not to know that specific project, on the other I was pleased because we thought the same and so we got the same result.
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Images provided by Davide Ferrari
Credits for the images to Elena Sokolova and Coni Rossi