For Simone Ciarmoli and Miguel Queda, a journey does not only spell the presence of a suitcase and the experience of exotic landscapes. A journey is what allows our soul to fill the voids of our memory and knowledge with other meanings and emotions. In their professional trajectory, some of their projects are more intuitive than others. Three of these, in particular, have been designed and created at different moments in time, with different objectives, nevertheless, emerge as part of a sort of trilogy. This unicum manifests itself through the imaginative worlds, that each one navigates.
Before Design: Classic was a project which Simone and Miguel worked on to create an exhibition and a short movie, directed by the well-known and much respected filmmaker Matteo Garrone, on the theme of classic furniture. A journey through the furniture of our memory revealed within a world as close as it is forgotten, with the pieces being estranged from their context of canonical use. Within their new setting, the Mirabilis pools in Bacoli, the pieces relive a new life. What prevails in this short film is the connection with the element of “Earth”, representing the origins of – man/child and classic furniture. Ατ the same time, the film touches upon the relationship with the place within which these same pieces are revived once stripped of the “dust” that covers them, in order to be re-immersed into an underground place, protecting them from what the outside world could do to them.
The second project of this imaginary trilogy is DeLightFuL. Through this short film, once again directed by the Roman director Matteo Garrone, is set in the woods of Chia, in the province of Viterbo. “I imagined scenes of everyday life inside a forest, where the walls do not exist, in a hypothetical future in which the internal and external space are non-existent but rather the focus shifts onto the essential vision… using light as a theatrical element, capable of influencing the perception of space, the reason also that I wanted to shoot at night”._Matteo Garrone
A scenario suspended in time where contemporary and affectless furniture in need of a human presence in order to express itself, is the protagonist. The natural element of “Air” defines a world that spans between dream and reality. A story of a house without structural borders, immersed in nature. A recreation of the direct link between man and nature. A home where social rules, daily rituals, and “ordinary” moments give a different sense of purpose to the furniture pieces, bringing forth a natural dreamlike portrait. The air that permeates the environment distances the design pieces from their canonical habitat. Bright magic gives life to a sort of metaphysical nest, an intimate world that can be imaginary and virtual, but which ensures safety and serenity for those who live in it. The viewer is invited to reflect upon how our perception of our physical world is greatly influenced by the reality that embraces it.
The third chapter of this journey, born in 2020, is directed by the young and talented Federico Fenucci. The unpublished short film titled 106.5 – defining a dream will premiere during the first edition of MDFF Greece. The short reveals an intimate design approach, dealing with the element of “Water.” In a dream made of colours and sounds, the designer duo narrate the story of the construction of “Dream”, a colossal 106-meter long yacht, which took 7 years to build. This short film presents the iconographic research for the yacht’s interior design, which extends from Jules Verne’s stories –that inspired the magnificent mosaics depicting marine animals– to Polidori’s photographs of the Palace of Versailles; an even combination of materials and proportions. The colour palette of the Aegean Sea meets the need to create a dream-inspiring floating castle.
The Earth, which represents our origins, the Air we breathe in our present, the Water through which we figuratively let go of ourselves projecting our future. These elements appear repetitively in the design alphabet of Simone Ciarmoli and Miguel Queda, whether in a piece of furniture, in the realization of a hotel, or in the curation of an exhibition. The designers imagine new worlds, which reflect their personal dreams, define the dreams of their customers, and even touch upon the dreams of each of us when we are eager to close our eyes, and envision a world that can be unique, it can be everyone’s, it can be better.
The MDFF World Tour Athens 2020 carries the title Lights On: Projecting Our Contemporary Future. During this time of transition, of change, and newness, thriving aspects of our fast-changing era, how comfortable are you with change?
As the word itself says, change concerns a situation that is moving into something else. If we consider the principle of impermanence that supposedly rules everything and the Heraclitus Panta Rhei idea, according to which everything flows, change and moves are part of the world since early times. Of course, we are now facing an unexpected change, and we try to adapt to it, with an optimistic and intuitive approach.
How has your design approach and objectives been shaped and adapted over the years? How have your client’s expectations and needs been evolved over time?
Our design approach and objectives have been shaped by our own curiosity for Art, Design, nature, and by the aesthetics of different cultures, both oriental and western. The clients’ expectations have evolved, starting from their habits of living and socializing, expecting in return an upgrade in the design of the spaces. From furniture to fabrics and lighting items specially developed for a project.
The film plays an important role in communicating and delving further into your works. Please tell us about your relationship with the 7th Art, and your choice to incorporate design in film in your projects?
Our inspiration comes from many suggestions, including films and the imagination behind them. Therefore we find the same means an interesting vehicle to express our ideas, our design process, our projects, and the emotion they carry. A film is a creativity in motion.
The 2016 exhibition and short film ( directed by Matteo Garrone) Before Design: Classic takes us on a multi-sensory journey. A representation of the timeless Classic style as a versatile living category that traverses different eras, always remaining relevant. Your attempt was geared towards decontextualizing classical furniture — often regarded as something that belongs to the past — by reinterpreting various contemporary living spaces and enriching them with elements powerfully inspired by contemporary art, and melding references of classical quality and modern architecture. What is the fine line separating the notions of protecting and reviving?
The film Before Design: Classic shows a world changed by a catastrophe. In this set, we witness children, rising from devastation, collecting pieces of beautiful classical furniture, to clean and install them in an ancient roman reservoir. They intend to keep these pieces as a legacy for future generations. The pieces estranged from the context of canonical use relive a new life within the unique context of the Mirabilis pools in Bacoli. They represent small custodians of taste and beauty. For this reason, the claim of the film is ‘ Tradition in the Future, ‘which expresses the need to keep alive and transmit to the next generations a heritage of beauty, culture, art, and craftsmanship. Just like nowadays.
When it comes to aesthetics – What’s the cost and value of beauty, and how would you articulate that?
Beauty is a human aspiration, its value is related to the idea of well-being that it brings for most of us. The cost of ugliness can often be high; therefore, the cost of beauty comes down to a balance that everyone should find between the two.
What new forms of (enduring) beauty you believe are capable of overcoming cultural barriers?
A true beauty that touches the heart is deeper than any barrier.
In your opinion, which are the design’s quantifiable and unquantifiable values?
Quantifiable, to fulfill its function. Unquantifiable, to be innovative.
Your project DeLightFuL — an acronym of Design, Lighting, Future Living, formed as an integral part of the contemporary design exhibition DeLightFuL for the 56th edition of the Salone del Mobile. Milano. In DeLightFuL, once again directed by Matteo Garrone, you rethink the concept of living as a home without structural frontiers, immersed in nature, revealing the contemporary domesticity as a representation of man’s primeval, authentic, and essential needs. What home means to you?
In a setting that contrives to be both natural and dreamlike, magical, and surreal, DelightFuL takes a look at the world of design and in contemporary life, with objects and people moving against a backdrop of fantastical atmospheres. For us, referencing man’s primal needs, home implicates a personal space that pleasantly fulfills each one’s needs.
In the absence of a structural manifestation, what emerges as present?
A more flexible space suggesting a domestic life with fewer restrictions.
Writer and novelist, Anaïs Nin, said: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” How much of your design alphabet, is directly influenced by a pure projection of yourselves? What is the role of the unconscious when creating the physical expression of it?
We are all adults acting in an adult world. Still, we personally believe it is necessary to keep alive the child inside us. This child looks at things with pure curiosity and has no filters towards any stimulus. Therefore, the primal creativity that comes from the soul is the projection of ourselves. The unconscious is the side of the soul, where pure creativity lies.
Your short movie 106.5 – defining a dream, (Federico Fenucci, Italy, 2020) scheduled to premiere during the first edition of MDFF Greece—Athens, reveals the intimate side of designing a new home, a floating home. What has been your experience when building the yacht’s interior design concept? From which disciplines did your research draw inspiration?
106.5-defining a dream — a colossal 106.5-meter long superyacht, which took seven years to build — presents the iconographic research for the yacht’s interior design. A home that does not necessarily resemble a vessel but rather one in the mainland. A home in constant movement, symbolic of the fast-changing era we are living in. A home merging Art, Design, and historical references within its interior portraits. A home that envisions a fantasy trip on board with guests like Jean Prouve, Jean-Michel Frank, Jules Verne, and Maria Antoinette. Our research draw inspiration from the mental discipline of synthesis that merges majestic decorative references from Versailles with the linearity of Jean-Michel Frank, along with patterns inspired by the aesthetic of Jean Prouve’ and the fictional world of Jules Verne. With an eye on contemporaneity.
How different was the conception of the interiors for a floating home in comparison to a home on the mainland? Did the decor, for instance, have to comply with any restrictions, or did some of the materials used have to be treated in any particular way?
106.5 is a floating home that also moves and travels. Everything was designed to have maximum functionality and avoid heavyweight and vibrations. A calm color scheme was selected, and specific non-fire materials were used.
Which have been the learnings and challenges involved in the process?
Learning: How to design the interiors of a 106,5 vessel in its complexity. Challenge: The overall process to achieve this goal.
What is the main take-home feeling of the short 106.5-defining a dream?
Emotion and creativity without boundaries, along with a broad vision and commitment.
Our homes to this day have been shaped upon such notions as standardization, functionalism, and formal reduction, as well as individualization and ornamentation. In your opinion, how do we want to live?
In a free and comfortable way.
The recent pandemic condition has urged us to seek refuge within our personal inland. This inland carries different meanings, shapes, and forms for each one. Considering the home as a city, if you were to give us a tour of your journey inside your personal space, what aspects prevail?
The search and need for good light at any moment of the day. Light has a fundamental importance in our lives and daily activities. From when we eat, to when we work or when we relax. Life without light is not possible; so, the presence of light has been the most major element that defined our experience within our personal space during the phase of social distancing.
During the last months, we have been offered a myriad of contents, debates, discussions, and stimuli for further reflections within the digital ecosystem. An attempt to elaborate, metabolize this unprecedented condition while staying present and connected during this forced intermission. What do you consider communicative, and what distractive? What is old, and what is outdated?
Old can refer to the way we used to approach our life and work in the pre-Covid era. A time when we were focused on thoughts and actions that mainly revolved around the immediate moment. A Here and Now attitude with minimal consideration of the impact that our actions could potentially have in the future. Therefore a future without a root in culture, history, and tradition is outdated and so it the way of producing maximum profits or show off against very low-quality content.
How have you re-channeled your gift to make things, and stay connected?
By rethinking the way of doing things and communicating.
In your opinion, in the Presence of Absence, what sort of transformations are triggered?
Time to think, time to act differently, hopefully with more awareness.
What is today’s new face of innovation? What is the new face of luxury?
The new face of innovation starts from the approach towards it. Luxury’s new face should be a return to its former concept, something that requires a particular time to be conceived and crafted to be long-lasting.
What’s your projection of the design’s contemporary future?
To keep an eye in Tradition in the Future.
Interview by Annie Markitanis, Director of MDFF Greece & Cyprus, Partner of MDFF