Magna Grecia: Seletti presents a new decorative collection inspired by Mediterranean culture
Posted on January 19, 2023 at 10:10 am
From Seletti, we know the lamps in the shape of a monkey or a black cat, the two taste plates and other decorative objects with a pop and transgressive spirit. Discover its latest collection conceived by designer Antonio Arico.
On the occasion of the Maison & Objet fair, the Italian publisher, Seletti launches a large collection called “Magna Grecia”, which revisits the Greek relics of southern Italy in a cartoonish style. The opportunity to interview its designer, Antonio Arico, is steeped in Mediterranean culture.
What is your course?
I studied in Milan then I worked around the world, both as a designer, scenographer and artistic director, for different manufacturers, from Bialetti coffee maker to Barilla pasta. However, a few years ago I felt the need to return to the region where I grew up: Calabria. Located at the bottom of La Botte, facing Sicily, it is reputed to be the most difficult in Italy. However its culture and resources are vast. In 2020, I returned to live in my hometown, where my grandfather was a carpenter. Greek culture is present in this region. We don’t have temples, like in Sicily, but lots of statues and things. In some villages, a derivative of Greek is still spoken, more than 2500 years after the conquest…
How was this collection born?
In 2012, Seletti was the first design house I collaborated with. We keep in touch and we started working in terracotta five years ago. Stefano Seletti, his boss, ordered me a collection “in my style”. He wants a lot of coins right away. Last year I caught severe Covid and had to stay at home for a month. I took this time to think about a global concept. I wanted to think about everything: objects but also communication, Instagram, packaging… I wanted to interpret this Greek heritage with terracotta, all in a playful spirit that suits me!
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How did you get on?
I started by making lots of drawings that I transcribed quantitatively using 3D software. Then Seletti found a way to copy the lines of my drawing in parallel. This is the first time in my career as a designer that the final pieces are exactly what I designed. We see there modernity but also the purity of traditional manufacturing.
What do you want to show in this collection?
“Magna Grecia” reflects an image that is more Mediterranean than Calabrian. It refers to the Great Greece of Antiquity but also to the Roman emperors, to Sicilian traditions such as the Testa di Moro. Above all, I don’t want to make replicas, memories. The pieces are contemporary and designed in a fun spirit, which is Seletti.
Why did you choose terracotta?
I grew up in a carpentry workshop and I love wood, which is my favorite material. Terracotta has the same color but is more expressive in its plasticity. I like the “bare” aspect of this material, which gives purity but not white, warmer…
Among other things, you interpret a very famous artefact from Greek Antiquity…
At the end of the process, Stefano Seletti asked me what was missing. I told him about the “Bronzes of Riace”, statues of warriors from the 5th century BC, which are still surrounded by many mysteries. There was talk of a third missing statue and I thought of a woman… Women and men are mixed, as in Greek culture, in a certain fluidity of genres.
Why do you draw an ashtray?
Ashtrays are not a very popular typology, but, like me, Stefano Seletti smokes a cigarette a day, and we know that a garden ashtray is a very Mediterranean concept. I made this drawing of a homo-erotic orgy, as discovered, as a child, among antique vases. I put it aside to stick in a big room. I couldn’t do this with any other editor than Seletti…
What are your plans for 2023?
I want to continue the reconciliation between the North and the South of Italy. At Seletti, of course, with new things designed for the outdoors. But I’m also preparing a completely different collection for Dolce & Gabbana, still very Mediterranean. I also want to build an artistic residence in my region of Tropea, with a view of the Stromboli volcano and the Strait of Messina. We must change the minds of the people of Calabria…