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Artnet Design


by Brook S. Mason
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Supersized sculptures and installations by Studio Job, Ettore Sottsass and other major league designers are among the wonders in the new Fondazione Bisazza, a museum dedicated to design and contemporary architecture that is set to open in Vicenza, Italy, a town best known for Palladio’s iconic villas, on June 8, 2012.

This new nonprofit is monumental in scale, encompassing over 65,000 square feet, rather more than the 6,400 square feet devoted to design at the Museum of Modern Art. MoMA’s entire exhibition galleries clock in at 125,000 square feet.

Each of the 20 rooms at the Foundatione Bisazza -- a project of the Bisazza family, which is known for its tile showrooms in Paris, London, Milan, Berlin and Barcelona as well as the U.S. -- is devoted to the work of a single artist/designer. Several commissioned sculptures are sheathed in hand-cut tile, natch, and even the curvilinear walls of the entrance are coated in tile decorated with overscaled images of roses.

But almost everything here is supersized in scale. Jaime Hayon created a life-sized private jet in white and silver tiles, while Alessandro Mendini crafted a 10-foot-tall rococoesque armchair in multicolored tiles, plus, in 24 karat gold tiles, a massive boot, man’s jacket, briefcase and hat and more. Also on exhibit is a life-sized racing car by Marcel Wanders.

“We saw that Italy deserves an important design museum,” said Fondazione VP Rossella Bisazza. The institution’s permanent collection includes commissioned installations by Tord Boontje, Aldo Cibic, Sandro Chia, Fabio Novembre, Mimmo Paladino, Andrée Putman and Patricia Urquiola, among others. In terms of dimensions, the overwhelming majority of those examples are quite simply staggeringly huge.

But architecture also holds considerable sway. The inaugural exhibition, “John Pawson: Plain Space,” is coming from the London Design Museum. This survey showcases Pawson’s architecture as well as product designs, and includes his current and future projects as well through photographs, sketches, models and prototypes. The show runs until July 29, 2012. Plus, the London-based Pawson, known for a minimalist esthetic, is creating a site-specific work that approximates a giant igloo, only constructed of tiny white tiles.

In addition to spotlighting its permanent collection, this new cultural space is also organizing traveling exhibitions on an annual basis. A show devoted to the work of Arik Levy is planned for this coming November.

Architect Carlo Dal Bianco has designed the project. Members on the advisory board include architect and designer Alessandro Mendini, Vitra Design Museum chairman Alexander Vegestack and Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain director Hervé Chandès.

BROOK S. MASON is U.S. correspondent for the Art Newspaper, and also writes for the Financial Times and other publications.