Objects Stories, a theatre speaks of design

Author: Gaia De Santis
Photographs: Pietro Cocco, Giuseppe Dinnella

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Milan, Teatro Arsenale. A space with a long experimental tradition ventures into an original project that blends different codes and frames of reference, finding a new way to convey a vision: Tacchini’s vision of design and the world that forms its backdrop.

There is no dimension more direct or authentic than the theatre in which to establish a live dialogue whilst at the same time giving the creative and aesthetic dimension of an object the right space and the value it needs.

The play “Object, Stories”, performed in rhyming couplets, is staged by Davide Fabio Colaci, and written and directed by Marina Spreafico for Tacchini Italia Forniture. A deliberate choice, explains the director, intended to make the words more memorable for the audience, conveying content in a lighter way, using an original formula that combines art, play and information. The language of theatre at the service of communication, artistic performance at the service of design aesthetics. Here, with the help of the actors, Tacchini weaves a narrative, while also telling something of its own story. The essential question is, what lies behind a design object? What is its story, who is the protagonist, before and after production? The answer is that, just like people, each object has a life story to tell, from the designer’s concept, to the know-how needed to bring it into being, to the individual who chose it and made it their own, bringing it into their life. Hence the idea of giving objects a voice, so that they can talk to us. And what medium could be more direct and authentic than the theatre to establish a live dialogue, giving the proper space and value to the creative and aesthetic dimensions of an object?

The scene from the play, installation curated by Davide Fabio Colaci. From the top, left to right: E63 lamp by Umberto Riva, Kelly H chair by Claesson Koivisto Rune, Sancarlo armchair byAchille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, Gio coffee table and Sesann armchair by Gianfranco Frattini, Pastilles lounge chair by Studiopepe.

Tacchini seeks a new way to show and share its vision of beauty. Design takes the stage. And the plot of the play is its story. Or rather, the real and imagined stories of ten Tacchini products, which physically take the limelight, aided by the voices of seven actors. The stage design is the work of architect Davide Fabio Colaci, who created an alternative space, built on different levels, to serve both as a display for the products and as scenery for the actors. The set symbolizes the great “Casa Tacchini”, inhabited by dining chairs,armchairs, tables and accessories, and by various male and female characters. Casa Tacchini is a place for living, singing, dancing, loving, thinking, remembering and planning. Over anexquisite live performance of Edith Piaf’s “Padam Padam”,adapted to include a tongue-in-cheek assonance with the name of one of Tacchini’s most iconic classic pieces, homage is paid to Gianfranco Frattini’s Sesann armchair. Meanwhile, Agnese, another historic chair designed by the same famous architect, embraces the thoughts and well-deserved rest of an elegant and lively lady of the same name, who charms the audience with a splendid tap dance. The models inhabit different apartments and belong to imaginary characters who have welcomed them into their lives. The small armchair Pastilles by Studiopepe is the faithful companion of daily anecdotes from caretaker, while Sancarlo, the unmistakable armchair from Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni relates the historic fortunes of the Teatro Arsenale, once an ancient church. Other key players in the stories of Casa Tacchini are Kelly H armchair by Claesson Koivisto Rune, Gio table by Gianfranco Frattini, Babela chair by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, Soleil mirror by Giorgio Bonaguro, E63 lamp and Rituale rug by Umberto Riva. Form, colour, function. Information on the products is conveyed unobtrusively through the story, and highlighted by the action on-stage, which constantly interacts with them. The objects are not mere scenery and lifeless accessories, they are a part of the life of those who have chosen them. Indeed, as Colaci puts it, the forms of our decor speak of our way of inhabiting our living rooms, yesterday and today. Sesann softly envelops the individual, while Kelly H will accommodate two people in its extra-large seat with maxi-backrest framing the face of its occupant, in a kind of figure–ground perception, as Colaci always says, that almost makes it seem like a theatrical backdrop within the conversational space.

At the end of the show, the audience has the opportunity to interact with the objects, to touch and try them, with an invitation to enter the scene, as the piano plays a most agreeable accompaniment to the smiles, chatter and snapshots, in the company of Tacchini’s designs and of special guests such as the children of Gianfranco Frattini. A unique setting, sincere and spontaneous, that describes the very essence of design with elegant simplicity: adding beauty and creativity to life. This stage show enables the audience to view objects from a new perspective: in addition to an aesthetic viewpoint, the human side will also be embraced, instinctively and naturally.

Above, from left, the Soleil mirror by Giorgio Bonaguro and Babela chairs by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni.

Now we can really imagine the story that is part of each product, and our minds are drawn to our own, to the objects that belong to us, that accompany us, a daily presence in our lives, year after year. If they could only speak, who knows what they could say about us and the people around us. Object, Stories speaks to us all, about us all. With the natural light-heartedness of an evening in good company, at a friend’s home. Casa Tacchini. Friends of Beauty.

Above, a scene from the play featuring the Agnese lounge chair by Gianfranco Frattini and Rituale rug by Umberto Riva.

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