Feature: Reena Bakir. Photography: Courtesy of Damiano Spelta
Calling himself “an artist without a doubt,” Damiano Spelta’s works challenge our notions of art and design.
Instantly recognisable for their unique stylistic features, Damiano Spelta’s creations have held worldwide and unequalled admiration for over 20 years. Born in 1966 in Milan, Damiano Spelta has carried with him some distinctive features of pop art culture, and has grown to become an eclectic artist with a distinguished position in modern design. His works transform the ordinary into the unexpected, giving new forms and meanings to everyday objects. Celebrated for his ability to interpret reality in a reflective way, he notices the mundanities of everyday objects and renovates their function and nature through his creativity and skill, creating brand new products.
Calling himself “an artist without a doubt”, Damiano Spelta’s art is poised between design object and work of art, and is characterised by the mix of materials, techniques and unquestionable skill that give them their airbrushed and clean finish. Inspired by Dadaism, a movement renowned for its mockery of materialistic attitudes, the artist confronts his audience with their obsession with, and longing for, a status in society. His creations reflect on the contradictions of the contemporary world in a playful manner and channel the irony of the modern world by maximising the scale of objects past their natural dimensions, as well as completely altering their concept and function, while maintaining their overall appearance. He wishes to spark a cheerfulness in his audience, having them understand the irony behind his work.
Spelta’s work involves the use of technology, which he himself sometimes handles with the knowledge gained from his studies in engineering and mechanics. However, craftsmen who find the most suitable and functional solutions sometimes assist him. Most of Spelta’s other works are made mainly by hand, through simple handicraft procedures that produce outstanding results and give the finished piece a unique, individualistic touch.
Of Speltra’s creations that reveal his infinite styles of expression is the Xolex, a large seat in the form of a wristwatch made of steel, aluminium and glass, which reflect on fineness and quality. This work has received great praise because of its purpose and meaning, which also channels the ironic stance that Spelta holds against mainstream media and the unrealistic standards society enforces on people. Other creations include Chaise Tongue, which is a lounge chair created in the shape of an open mouth and tongue, made from foamed polyurethane, latex, textile, aluminium and fiberglass. The Temperamento II is a table created with 330 pieces of HB pencils that are assembled with aluminium, steel and plate glass. The 500 sculpture made of an airbrushed car shell with a € 500 bill on the side of a Fiat 500 consists of fiberglass, original car components, pneumatics and steel. Be Knock is an art sculpture made using fiberglass, aluminium and mirrors. Much like most of his work, this design channels a pop art atmosphere due to the unique nature of this product. Another iconic product is the Lipztable, which is a tubular sculpture of a lipstick that stands as a side table as well. It is made using aluminium, solid wood and plate glass. This product can come along as an accessory with the Chaise Tongue.
Damiano has had his work featured in multiple exhibitions worldwide, alongside a wide range of designers and artists. First beginning in 1995 at the Montevideo exhibition, Damiano’s popularity has grown in multitudes since. His works are now featured in some of the most famous exhibitions in Milan and worldwide. As recently as 2016, Rossana Orlandi has featured some of Spelta’s most famous and iconic items on display, such as the 500 and the Xolex, as well as much of his other prominent work like the Melting Ciok, a sculpture that resembles a golden chocolate bar made with fiberglass, epoxy resin and MDF. In 2012, Spelta’s work was featured in the Pop Corn exhibition in galleriaseno, joined by artists Francesco De Molfetta and Veronica Picelli. This exhibition showcased Spelta’s recent works, where he ventured on his own search for freedom of expression. Among the objects on show was his celebrated Simone, created using polyurethane, latex, eco-leather and wood.
Overall, all of Damiano Spelta’s works reflects on his ability to be both an exquisite designer with great concepts as well as an artistic mastermind. Not only does Spelta design his products with careful attention to the meaning he wishes to introduce to the audience, but also with close precision in terms of materials, colours and the overall aesthetic of the product. His work is a perfect combination of objects where form and function meet.