EMMA SILVESTRIS AND THE PARADOX OF ANCIENT SYMBOLISM IN "MODERN" DESIGN

Alessi's Mediterraneo fruit bowl

Canister set - Mediterraneo by Emma Silvestris

Today, I am excited to present a terrific guest post from hip site Allmodern.com


Modern designers, and particularly creators of contemporary furniture, are, in most instances, driven creatively by the need to remain on the cusp of “cutting edge” design trends, or even to redefine the meaning of what is modern. While this has certainly created some innovative lines, I tend to admire more the designers who can mould traditional object, designs or symbols and recast them in a modern form.

The best example of this phenomenon is Alessi’s Mediterraneo line, designed by Italian artist Emma Silvestris and unveiled in 2005. In this collection, we see toothbrush containers, soap dishes, wall hooks, and other vanity containers molded or imprinted with a free-flowing design that is inspired by marine plant life. But while the design strongly resembles the organic, sinuous form of coral or kelp, Silvestris adds enough quirks along with soft silver and red tones to give the design a more curvaceous, friendlier appeal. What we see in the end is a design that is familiar, but divergent enough to stand out, no matter the design of the room.

Perhaps this can attributed to Silvestris’ background, which is somewhat different from other designers. Born in Salerno, Italy in 1962, she went to college to study Art History and Foreign Literature and spent some time teaching before entering the design world in 1990. Throughout all of her designs she is known for using timeless geometry and symbolism to create a new form of modernism.

This style stands out especially at Alessi, a modern household design firm whose best known designer is New Modernist Philippe Starck. However, the contrasting effect works to its benefit, making the items of the Mediterraneo Collection excellent complimentary pieces for nearly any modern bathroom or kitchen. Sometimes by looking toward the past truly can do design wonders for any modern décor scheme.