Marco Dessí: Still Life


29 January 2013

Tomorrow, the MAK museum in Vienna opens Still life, a retrospective of the work of Italian designer Marco Dessí. Except, Dessí insists, it's not a retrospective. "I only founded my studio in 2007," he says. "I haven't been working long enough to have a retrospective."

Whether a retrospective or not, Still Life is an overview of Dessí's work to date. Dessí, a graduate from Vienna's University of Applied Arts, rose to prominence with his student project Radiator (2006) - a spiralling heater made from ceramic plates - and it is his lasting connection to the school that secured him the show at MAK, part of the museum's Applied Arts Now exhibition series devoted to young creatives.

Still Life is an insight into Dessí's work and an introduction to the prototypes he is developing for 2013, but the designer is adamant that the exhibition not be seen as a straightforward show of his work. "I didn’t want to show a classical making-of," he says. "In art, a still life is a composition, and this exhibition is intended as a composition of my work. I've interspersed my designs with objects from my personal collection. Those objects should tell a story."

Those personal objects are the heart of Dessí's exhibition. Alongside traditional products - the chandelier he designed for Lobmeyr in 2010; his 2012 mesh chair for Skitsch - Dessí is planning to exhibit everyday pieces, such as a golden ski mask ("I like its mirrored surface; it reminds me of an astronaut's helmet"), the front grill of a Volkswagen and an index card holder he took from his father's office.

"The pieces are intended to reflect each other visually," says Dessï. The horizontal glass tubing that forms the body of his Basket chandelier is echoed in the shape of the metal Volkswagen grill that it is paired with. "If you saw that €9,000 chandelier in a shop you might think that I drink from crystal glasses and am interested in mega luxury, but that's not the truth. I like the craft of that €6 grill. I wanted to show an affinity between the things I like and those I create."

Alongside the objects and previous works, Still Life is also an opportunity for Dessí to show new prototypes. Featured in the show is Clip, a makeshift floor lamp; Atelier, a minimalist wardrobe system; and Visor, a tubular steel chair defined by its curved backrest. _Still Life is, the designer admits, primarily a chance to display his work to a wider audience.

"To show the work in a museum is a challenge and a great opportunity," he says. "But who knows how it will go. I’ll have to wait and see and let you know in a month or two..."