Nucleo: To the moon and back with Driade

Italian furniture brand Driade has worked for its 50th anniversary with Studio Nucleo to transform some of its most iconic pieces into 3D-printed versions fit for future life on the moon . Piergiorgio Robino with Studio Nucleo reinterpreted four of Driade’s bestselling designs by Naoto Fukasawa, Philippe Starck and Italian artist and furniture designer Enzo Mari, asking him what will outdoor design look like on the moon.

31298466_10214641910454896_3360265988711907328_nPiergiorgio Robino Studio Nucleo Design

AS. How was the Moon Mission / 50’ Anniversary project born, did Driade contact you?

PR. The project was born as a result of an encounter with Gianluigi Ricuperati, who joined Driade as an art director last year and who’s also a writer and had been for years the creative director of Domus Academy. He is a person with a very diverse knowledge of design world, because he writes for the art- and design- world and likes so much narrative projects.  As I am one of the few who creates stories and not just design projects, for me the narrative is very important. The company wanted to work on preservation and immerse some objects in artificial resin. I was not interested in this type of approach, because my narrative aimed in taking ordinary objects, hand made, without any design and bringing them to the future. I in fact believe that where will be nothing made without 3d printing technologies and handcrafting skills will be lost. I often visit the mountains to collect some particular items as stools for milking, small benches, handmade stairways, so that even the plants are small and useful objects, made with very few tools, like a knife, a small hacksaw. This turns them into small sculptures, the most primitive objects belonging to the last 100 years, and I call them Souvenir of the Last Century, in a clear antithesis with hyper-designed objects. The company was founded in 1968, when Design had already been fully established and entered a moment when it started to become super and hyper-futuristic. The world of design completely changed in those years and this is the reason why I reject the first project proposal and ask for some time to make another proposal. 

The work of Nucleo has always been inspired by time lines, so if I take one thing from the past I bring it to the future and vice-versa; you always play on the timeline, the inspiration is the whole history of humanity. In 1969 science brings man to the moon, it’s a step stone for humanity, and a source of inspiration for poetry, literature, paintings or science. From Galileo to Aztecs, the moon has always been a reference. I tried to imagine that it could be interesting to work not just on time, but also to work on space, bringing Driade to the space with a visionary project. Lately the design refers to the past as the 50s and 60s inspires all the design. In 1968/69 there was a strong sensation of the future in the processes, for example when we think of introduction of plastic. If you have to represent something having this spirit, you need to do it with a futuristic spirit. Currently there is no more attention to the future itself, but to the day-by-day, we live now and there’s so little vision of the future. 

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AS. Thinking about a future on the moon could be a narrative linking the 1968 to a near future, but don’t you think it’s way more complicated thinking about a possible future on Earth, with all that difficulties we are bringing with us, the results and effects of wrong choices?

PR. Actually, there’s another reflection: the project is designed on the moon also to aim at the earth. When you move your point of view outside of a problem, it becomes easier to analyze and solve it. When staying on the moon, one of the most hostile places existing, maybe you might start paying more attention to that fantastic place you call Earth. Just think, the moon goes from +127° to -173° and there’s nothing but sand, dead seas and craters, all is gray. 

The earth, on the other hand, is full of colors with lot of water, green and fantastic clouds.  So the perspective is simple: look carefully at the planet one more time, before you go into the space. Space still remains a great ambition, but shouldn’t be considered as a shelter, just because the place where you lived before is wasted. Another reflection on this project is a true futuristic vision, based on MIT and ESA studies, on how the furniture is supposed to be designed on the moon. Bringing objects to the moon is very expensive, even if this option becomes accessible. On 2019 five individuals will go to the moon and for the first time it won’t on behalf of country, a nation, but instead for a research center. Something that used to be attainable just for secret researches, now becomes available also for individuals. You can actually go to live on the moon and become a researcher yourself, finding out how to live on other planets. The goal we set was to achieve something allowing us to stay outside on the moon, so we created the first collection of outdoor furniture. 

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AS. As you told me how difficult is it creating these objects here on Earth, how would it be possible to realize them and not taking them to the moon?

PR. What we can take to the space is a 3D printer and we can utilize the lunar soil as a material, the regolith more precisely. It’s very fine sand that exists on Earth in volcanoes, so where is death we find similar type of material. 

AS. What was the material you used instead to create these pieces of furniture?

PR. It’s a refractory sand which is very similar to the regolith and is used for melting/fusion. We’re using an industrial process of a German technology that is used for printing in the automotive world. 

AS. Are there any collectors from the design- or art- world interested in purchasing these furniture, obviously not for the use on the moon, but at home?

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PR. The furniture is designed to be made on the moon and conceptually has no sense for its use on Earth. First of all, it’s absorbing water and putting it in a humid place you risk to destroy it, and being conceptually born for a very hot place, its not really working. They also have a very short life span as with the 3D printing technology we used its impossible to do something really resistant.

AS. Is Driade the first house of design making this kind of objects?

PR. It was the first time such a large object was realized by 3D printing, and it’s also the first time a moon furniture is designed, especially for exteriors, in these cases it was very visionary. Since this is a research project, we can actually test it on the moon by continuing our relationship with ESA and this kind of researches. 

AS. Thinking about your future, where do you imagine yourself and which object would you bring with you?

PR. Right now I would like to go to Argentina in Tierra del Fuego and bring a pair of boots to walk a lot because I’d like to see the place where the world ends, and those enormous glaciers that are retreating, before it’s too late. 

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AS. What are your future projects: don’t you want to tell us about those already commissioned?

PR. There’s a fantastic project I was thinking about last year, a powerful and creative period, that I will work on with Ross Lovegrove, a four-handed project born in an absolute casual way. Perhaps because of a very strong episode occurred to me, I needed to spend some time in cemeteries. I’ve always had a really bad relationship with these places, probably because the death came to my life too early. Last year I started to admire the cemeteries, in Italy we have some crazy examples like the Staglieno in Genoa, the Monumentale in Turin and the Monumentale in Milan. I started thinking about cemeteries as a place of art, the one in Milan in particular. 

The Monumentale of Milan is an incredible place, populated by this association Amici del Monumentale with Carla de Barnardi who knows the whole cemetery, all the stories of famous and non-famous tombs and that made me explore it deeper. Since that moment I’ve started a random series of events, making a project linked to the cemetery and death in a lateral way: the death of objects, celebrating the death of some important design objects and placing them in the cemetery, no longer in a museum of design, thus turning them into something different. The design that saw the light in the beginning of 900’ has changed, the way Castiglioni used to work, for example, with a cultured client and a company, a project aimed to spread culture, and particular materials make no sense nowadays. 

Today, for example, 3D printing is upsetting the production rules as well. The idea is to crystallize, represent that moment, the End, in another way. The special partner for this project is Battaglia, who has made around 180 molten craft inside the Monumentale, including almost all of the most important tombs. This work should have been presented these days, but did not make it in time, because the approval of the superintendence arrived too late, only two months ago.  

AS. So will the area of the Monumentale cemetery be used for this project?

PR. We’ll start with a little show and then we’ll see if the pieces will remain there or not. The exhibition will be presented in September 2018.