Venturini Fendi: Crafting a Recycled Future

Ilaria Venturini Fendi talks about the sustainable materials employed for her Carmina Campus handbags and pieces of furniture

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A creative army of architects and interior designers is at present putting the final touches to their exhibits at Milan’s Salone del Mobile (International Furniture Fair), opening on 14th April. Designer Ilaria Venturini Fendi will join the event from her Carmina Campus showroom. Here, visitors will be able to see her new collection of bags and accessories created using recycled materials and also admire a few unique pieces of furniture. In the Carmina Campus world ordinary furniture and interior design objects are created assembling unusual materials: tables integrate old wall clocks; car headlights are turned into wall lamps and road signs are transformed into benches and tables; electric components are incorporated into chairs while dummies are dissected in pure Frankenstein style to create lamps or decorative elements and doubled up bin bags are used as if they were pieces of leather to fashion lightweight “Sacco” chairs à la Zanotta with matching handbags made of bin bags and vintage clutches.

Dazed Digital: How do you select the materials or objects for the Carmina Campus furniture?
Ilaria Venturini Fendi: Carmina Campus is first and foremost a project that employs recycled materials to create unique accessories and a few interior design pieces. The creative process behind each piece implies a wide research that inevitably takes me to discover unusual materials. Some of the materials are not reusable for the bags or the jewellery, but they are perfect for pieces of furniture. I never follow a specific trend nor plan things too much when reusing these materials, but ideas come to me spontaneously. Yet there is a unifying thread that connects all the Carmina Campus projects: all the objects I reuse are taken out of their contexts and are given a new life and purpose. Besides, a piece of furniture made with recycled materials should also be considered as a part of a wider project of rediscovery we must go through that must lead us to find more sustainable inspirations.

DD: What’s the most unusual material used for the Carmina Campus pieces?
Ilaria Venturini Fendi: All the pieces are unique as they are handmade following precise craftsmanship procedures and techniques. I usually feel that a piece is a complete success when I manage to find a material that allows me to come up with a small handmade production in series, like the steel or aluminium scraps usually employed to make components and elements in hard industry applications that we incorporated in the single or double seats.

DD: Some of the most extravagant pieces feature dismembered parts of dummies, where did you find them?
Ilaria Venturini Fendi: I used parts of old dummies for the furniture of the Milan-based Carmina Campus showroom. This is a sort of Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory that also features an “electric” chair that mirrors the confusion of the times we are living in and urges visitors to change their lifestyles and minds, a concept symbolised also by the dummies’s heads scattered around the place. I found some of the dummies in an old warehouse, others come from the Addis Ababa market.

DD: What’s your favourite Carmina Campus piece of furniture?
Ilaria Venturini Fendi: I like all of them, since they are all unique. I must admit though that, at the moment, I particularly like the lamps made with the dummies’ hands. I find them funny since the bulbs look as if they are sitting in the dummies’ hands, almost symbolising a special “eureka” moment, the birth of a brilliant idea that you hold on the palm of your hand.

The Carmina Campus Showroom, in via Sciesa 5, Milan, Italy, will be visitable by appointment during the Salone del Mobile from 14th to 19th April 2010.

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