i-ItalyNY - 2014-06 - page 47

June-July 2014
We find Flavio Manzoni in
the company of a select number
of architects, designers and
journalists, in an important
center – the brainchild of the
brilliant director Laura Mattioli –
established in NewYork in 2013
for the promotion of modern and
contemporary Italian art.What
brings Ferrari’s chief of design to
the Center for ItalianModernArt
in NewYork this May? Sardinian-
bornManzoni is here to present
his charity project,
(Mother Earth) a gigantic lamp
that will go on auction at the end
of July.The funds raised will be
used to rebuild the Maria Rocca
School in Olbia, Sardinia, which
was completely destroyed by the
tremendous flood that hit the
island on November 18, 2013.
At the far end of the exhibition
room, surrounded by
masterpieces by Italian Futurist
Fortunato Depero, stands
Manzoni’s massive Leucos lamp.
It almost looks alive, like a giant
looking down upon us. It’s here,
seated underneath his lamp, that
our conversation takes place.
“I haven’t lived in Sardinia for a
very long time, since I was 18. I
left to follow a dream, to become
an architect and designer.
But this tragic flood brought
me back to my roots, almost
fiercely. I really wanted to give a
substantial personal contribution
to help rebuild one of the worst
hit areas of Sardinia. I wanted to
have a very concrete target. So
for a few days after the disaster
I let my thoughts flow.The
considerations and memories
that emerged led me to compose
this work.”
Today, themind behind Ferrari’s
masterpieces – not tomention
designs for Lancia,Volkswagen,
and SEAT – doesn’t want to talk
about cars. He wants to talk about
the damage done to his native
land. Sardinia is the reason he
undertook a two-day trip to New
York, with only his daughter and a
lamp in tow.
How did the idea to raise funds
by designing and auctioning a
lamp come about? “It comes
froma previous job I did with
Gabriele Costa and Leucos, a
charitable initiative to benefit the
City of Hope [a Pediatric Research
Institute in Padua].We created
a lamp there, too, precisely for
its symbolic value. It represents
light itself. It’s something that
inherently brings you to focus
on something, tomeditate, and
somehow also generates hope.”
The lamp is rich with details and
figurative elements that have
an important symbolic value
for Manzoni.“It describes, in a
somewhat elaborate way, some
sort of streamof consciousness
that stirred insideme when the
disaster happened.Thoughts and
memories began to flow during
the event that ledme tomake this
work.” There are, so to speak, two
ways of interpreting the object:
abstractly, as a sort of cosmogram
in which each figure has its own
meaning; and allegorically, as a
figurative work in which each
figure evokes Manzoni’s personal
bond with his land.“For example,
there is an image that reminds me
of my father, who passed away
a short time before this disaster.
I wanted him to be there. But
there’s alsomy son, because when
something like this happens, you
start thinking of those who will
come after us.”
A sense of new life after
something has been shattered,
a positive piece of art…
“That’s exactly right.The lamp
symbolizes light in every way,
even with its colors andmarkings,
which aremainly red.They
almost look like scratches, like
wounds representing the Earth
torn up bymen, but at the same
time they symbolize human
sacrifice, the huge price paid by
After living away fromyour
homeland and then suddenly
rediscovering it through this
tragedy – can you describe
how that made you feel? “The
feeling is that the life we lead –
frenetic, always overworked – is
a life that takes you away from
your intimate and symbiotic
relationship with your land.What
happened tome also happened
to Costantino Nivola, the greatest
Sardinian artist of last century
– author of, amongmany other
works of art, the famous sculpture
“Grande Madre”. He is alluded to
in the lamp by this Mediterranean
motherly figure, which for us
Sardinians symbolizes the earth.
Nivola is also very well known
An amazing lamp is the star
of an evening at CIMA (the
Center for Italian Modern Art
in New York). The aim is
to raise funds to rebuild
a school severely damaged
by a flood in Flavio
Manzoni’s native land, the
marvelous Italian island of
Sardinia. In this interview
Manzoni tells us about his
project, carried out in
conjunction with Leucos, a
leading company of Italian-
made lighting solutions.
A lamp for Sardinia
here, having worked in New
York for many years. Likeme, his
bond with his motherland was
bolstered while living elsewhere.
Sometimes distance helps you
recover that sense of belonging
and reconcile yourself with your
The lamp is now in NewYork,
but it has already been in several
other places.What’s its itinerary?
“It went to Cagliari first, then to
the BolognaArt Fair, the Milan
Furniture Fair and is now here in
NewYork.The aim is to show it
around and allow it to be seen and
known before the auction.”
Inside the lamp is an inscription.
Can you tell us more about that?
“The inscription is ametaphor
that sums up themeaning of
the novel
Canne al Vento
in theWind) by Grazia Deledda,
a distinguished Sardinian writer
who won the Nobel Prize for
Literature in 1926.
Reeds in theWind
is ametaphor for human fragility.
What I inscribed in the lamp goes
like this: “‘
Canne al vento, canne gli
uomini, vento la sorte che le piega, le
schianta o le curva perché si rialzino
più salde
” (Reeds in the wind,men
like reeds, and wind the lot that
bends them, breaks them, twists
them, so when they rise again
they’ll be stronger). It’s amessage
of hope, an invitation to reflect on
what happened and rebuild one’s
Hope for the young…what did
your daughter say while you
were working on this project?
“She followed the whole creative
process, because I talked about
it often. She is very affectionate
and close tome, so she has a
special interest in what I do. She
has the same kind of relationship
with Sardinia, which she knows
fromdistance.” It’s not easy to
describe the great designer’s gaze
as he talks about his daughter.
Maybe, without realizing it, he
has dedicated the lamp to her.
It’s a sign of hope for the future
of the extraordinary place that is
I haven’t lived in Sardinia for
a very long time. I left to follow
a dream, to become an architect and
designer. But sometimes distance helps
you recover that sense of belonging and
reconcile yourself with your roots.
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