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Projects/2006/1._Cubes in motion
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Details: collaborative project for Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella (IT). Packaging design for Jeantet Patisserie

THE PROJECT, text by Production Office at Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto

The 10th of March 2006 was the date for the conclusion of 'Cubes in motion - Ambassadors of Biella district' workshop, in which eight previous Unidee residents –now Manydee Network Members– took part. The project was born in 2002 when La Tavola dell’Orso –a consortium that numbers eight Biellese companies– asked Cittadellarte to think how to promote and to present their products in an innovative way. Thus Le Tavole dell'Arte project was born, an exhibition of tables involving the participation of ten Unidee ex-resident artists.

This year 2006, CNA –National Confederation of Crafts– and La Tavola dell'Orso asked Cittadellarte to further develop that idea, so a proposal of a workshop was born in which, through the creative collaboration between international artists and local artisans, eight cubes would be realised as representative of the territory and the productive excellence of the Biellese district. The aim of 'Cubes in motion’ project is to initiate a process of creative collaboration between craftsmen and artists, in which the former represent the productive nodes of the localised system and the latter the live connection with the demands, dynamics and tendencies of the global scale.

The proposed concepts had to be in the shape of a cube as a basic module of a variable; transformable and adaptable to different spaces, cost-effective architecture able to display and articulate the differences in a clear, simple and formally readable structure. The cubes in motion present the know-how of the master craftsman, their history, places and landscape. They are functional, in terms of displaying the objects / products by creating combinations adaptable to the diverse requirements of space and use (fairs, stands, exhibitions); they fascinate and attract the public / consumers, who can purchase them and use them, thereby opening up new markets for the artisan (furniture, lighting,...); they become a symbol of the territory that makes difference in excellence of the basic common value.

The process of creating a 'cube in motion' consisted of three stages: familiarisation between the craftsman and the artist, concept by the artist, production by the craftsman.

Each artist chose a product from Tavola dell'Orso to present and a craftsman to collaborate with. All the designs for the realisation of the cubes had to be handed out to the Production Office before the 10th of April 2006. The practical realisation of the cubes was managed directly by Cittadellarte's Production Office if the artist was not present in Biella.

Date of inauguration: 28th May 2006. Curated by Cittadellarte's Production Office, Architect Armona Pistoletto, with the collaboration of Francesca Minero

, text by Francesco Bernabei, Work Office at Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto

According to many opinions, the current handicraft crisis originates from craftsmen attempting to copy industrially produced products, by creating objects like those made on assembly lines, or even copying the industrial design itself. This creates difficulties of choice for the middle consumer market, with a limited money supply: on one hand we have an industrial product, branded and advertised, made from raw materials and qualified procedures (lower quality equals low price); this product is conceived as 'competitive'. While, on the other hand, we have an almost invisible competitor, neither advertised nor with a widespread distribution network, of high quality procedures and raw materials, but with a high price to match the production costs.

When given the choice, the consumer naturally opts for the cheapest price, for the availability of the product, for the closest functionality to the original aim (there is no distinction between wood and plywood, leather and plastic as regards performance).
There are also other relevant factors from the point of view of socio-environmental supportability…

To sum up, here are the factors which differentiate the handcrafted product from the industrial one: a better production quality (e.g. attention to detail); production made to measure; verification of the production conditions and of the real value of the item; thanks to a wider range of choice, this leads to the consumer’s participation in the production of the article; direct communication between the consumer and artisan.

These points of strength of handcrafted products in comparison to industrial ones are the reasons why the consumer is charged for the high level of quality offered: therefore, handicraft and industry can coexist together if these differences are clearly stated. Obviously it's very important to distinguish as clearly as possible the production process from the product in order to clarify the difference to the consumer. The advertisement of the handcrafted product will never equal the industrial one, but it should be considered specifically for each local area. Social features such as sharing and understanding of the human and socio-environmental values of handcrafted work should be underlined as opposed to its pure commercial values. We would all prefer less objects but of better quality that are closer to our sensibilities, rather than being bombarded with messages promoting conventional ways of living decided by marketing.

The experiences and the research on agroindustrial products, leather goods, clothing industry and so on, show clearly that a mature, experienced consumer chooses a more simple style of living which is not necessarily synonymous with spending large amounts of money.

Finally the handcrafted product is a way to preserve the landscape as it is, because it directly supports the communities living in more marginal areas, who otherwise would abandon these places causing serious environmental problems.

Exhibited: Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella (IT), 2006