The List #12

by Antonella Dedini 
The List #12 by Antonella Dedini "Freedom in Design" - Design Italy

This month's edition of The List is all about the concept of freedom on a broad scale, addressing how art and design improve our lives and often suggest new ways to be free.

Maria Prymachenko Ukrainian artist

Image cover: Maria Prymachenko Ukrainian artist

Today more than at any other time in history, we understand the meaning of freedom of movement, common love of freedom guaranteed by law, democracy, and independence. 


Freedom of thought improves culture, communication, and dialogue between religions and countries, while freedom of gender has generated even more awareness of the importance of defending uniqueness and respect for others. Because freedom is a global right and sentiment and a fundamental value of being human.  



This awareness helps us to plan for a better future. Our homes, the objects that surround  us, and our clothes and accessories have necessarily undergone transformation.


"Fountain of Exhaustion" by Pavlo Makov: a representation of Ukrainian resistance

Pavlo Makov; Fountain of Exhaustion. Acqua Alta; Ukrainian Pavilion, 59. Venice Biennale, 2022

Pavlo Makov's art traveled by car from Kharkiv to Venice, and curator Maria Lanko was assigned to curate the Ukrainian artist's exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2022 together with Liza German and Borys Filonenko. By miracle, Makov’s work arrived intact and represents Ukrainian resistance that has never stopped believing.

sketch of Fountain of exhaustion by Pavlo Makov

The work premiered in 1995. “It's not that the work has changed – it's the world that has approached what this work represents”, 63-year-old Makov told the Kyiv Independent. "Russia's idea is to eliminate Ukraine – and to eliminate Ukrainian culture. If it has no culture, Ukraine does not exist," he continued, paraphrasing a statement by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. "I don’t feel myself an artist here, I feel much more a citizen of Ukraine, and that it’s my duty that Ukraine is represented at the Biennale."

Acqua Alta; Ukrainian Pavilion, 59. Venice Biennale, 2022 - Fountain of Exhaustion by Pavlo Makov

Fountain of Exhaustion. Acqua Alta consists of 78 bronze funnels arranged into a triangle on 12 levels with water flowing from one at the top. The funnels hang on the wall, each splitting in two and dividing the water between multiple funnels at each level. When it reaches level 3, the flow slows to a trickle, and at level 6 to a mere drip. At level 12, it barely filters through the last 12 funnels into a shallow pool.

In the end, art is unstoppable.

Fountain of Exhaustion Acqua Alta by Pavlo Makov, Ukrainian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2022


Cats of Brutalism, the Instagram art account mentioned by the New York Times

Visit @catsofbrutalism on Instagram

Cats of Brutalism in Bunker Arquitectura


Sometimes ideas are just so silly that they end up being brilliant. This is the case of Instagram profile @cats_of_brutalism, flagged by the New York Times as one of 5 art accounts to start following on Instagram. 

 The profile mashes up images of two things that couldn’t be more different: cats and Brutalist buildings. Black and white photos of Brutalist constructions – from Le Corbusier's to Oscar Niemeyer's constructions in Brasilia – are taken and photoshopped with supersized cats that are sleeping, playing, or purring. 

All  pictures are accompanied with captions that explain the architecture in the photograph (including year, location, and the name of the architect) and the felines, whether stray cats or influencer cats that are already famous on the web. Because who doesn’t love cats?


"The Vase and the Artist" by the ceramic artist Ugo Marano

Ugo Marano; The Vase and the Artist; Cetara, Italy; 1991

Ceramist artist Ugo Marano with its giant ceramic vase


Ugo Marano was a ceramic artist, eclectic, and a talented visionary. In 1991 he created the Vasai di Cetara group in the fishing village where he lived near Salerno in Southern Italy. 

He used ceramics – which for him were a “master art” – combined with iron as a symbol of rethinking the value of manual skills, understood as an ethical dictum and wealth of knowledge. 

He worked in art and design with a "humanistic" bent towards contemporary man.

Gillo Dorfles wrote about Marano, presenting his work in the article that appeared in the magazine Area in 1989. One can speak of Marano’s as being a ‘mission’, because in fact “it is as if he were charged with being a lay missionary, a futurist prophet, [...] with which Marano does his work to make objects [...] that liberate the individual from submission to the schemes imposed by the dominant technocracy”.


"Afghan Hound", the performative art of Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen

Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen; Afghan Hound, 54; Venice Biennale, Italy; 2011

Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen performance Afghan Hound at Venice Biennale 2011

Afghan Hound was a performance featuring dance, music, and live acting and was staged at the opening of the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. 

Through the expressive power of an impressive bird-like stage costume and a stick that serves as a symbolic dance partner (the use of fur is inspired by the tradition of Afghan greyhound racing), artist Lillibeth Cuenca Rasmussen played four different characters.

The work addressed the complexities of gender in cultures where men and women are segregated under the rules of male culture. It also explored how repressed sexuality can develop new gender transformations beyond the traditions of society and culture.

Afghan Hound brought repressed voices to the forefront while attempting to communicate stories within Afghan tradition and culture by challenging the often stereotypical and sometimes reductive Western thinking about the Eastern world.

Activist and writer Malalai Joya contributed her writing to the words of the music accompanying the performance:


Drop by drop a river is formed…
Dust has been thrown in the eyes of the world
I was exploited as a symbol of peace
Nothing has changed our unease will increase


Don’t stop a donkey that isn’t yours
You’re handing over arms to the wrong boys
Same donkey with a new saddle
Keep your distance: We must fight our own battle
  1. Alias – I am not what you see
Everything is secret about me
Days and years of hide and seek-ness
No way can I reveal my weakness


Same donkey with a new saddle
Keep your distance: We must fight our own battle
  1. My man and I are never alone
Each night we sleep in a different home
Dependent on the kindness of strangers
Who try to keep us out of danger…”
Afghan Hound by Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen at Venice Biennale 2011


The Chalet a Méribel Les Allues, designed by Charlotte Perriand


Charlotte Perriand; chalet in Méribel Les Allues, Savoie, France; 1960-61

Between 1960 and 1961, designer and mountain enthusiast Charlotte Perriand designed her small, intimate, and cozy chalet.

Nestled into the mountainside, the chalet has two levels that completely open out onto the valley landscape and are both accessible from the outside.

On the lower level is a small kitchen, a living room with a large fireplace, and a small room that is self-contained and can be accessed only from the outside. Nicknamed the tanière, or den, it’s equipped with a fold-down bed, a sink, a shower, and a toilet.

Upstairs there’s a large room in the style of traditional buildings, with an exposed sloping roof and a large window that looks out onto nature. 

Chaise Longue LC4 designed by Le Cobusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Cahrlotte Perriand for Cassina

“I applied a basic principle: wooden structure on stone walls, but to close the voids, instead of wooden battens, double glazing framed by the same pine wood as the structure. All the voids on the second floor are thus closed by sliding doors made of wood and clear glass. They are hidden, disappearing between the stone walls on the outside and the wooden panels on the inside. [...]

No partition wall on the second floor, two Savoy-style beds arranged in pleasant niches that leave a great deal of free space, to be together. And, in my niche, when the sun goes over the peaks - bam! in my eye -, I wake up” (excerpt from Io, Charlotte tra le Corbusier, Léger e Jeanneret, Laterza, 2006). 

Photo by Fred Lahache.

Charlotte Perriand at Chalet in Méribel Les Allues

The Pill Dispenser, a revolutionary product in innovative packaging

David and Doris Wagner; pill dispenser for Ortho-Novum; 1963 (1961 patent)

first birth control pills bottle

The first oral contraceptive pill was called Enovid and was placed on the market in 1960. Just two years later, 1.2 million American women were already using it. 

Most women are familiar with at least one version of its packaging: a round plastic disc that opens like a shell and looks like a makeup case. But the pill was not always packaged this way. The first birth control pill on the market came in a simple glass bottle of loose tablets just like any other prescription pill. 

In 1961, David and Doris Wagner were a middle-aged couple with four children. Not wanting any more, they were excited to learn about the pill. Doris received the prescription, and the pills arrived in a large glass bottle. The instructions said to start the pill on the fifth day of her cycle. But what if she forgot to take a pill? 

Together with her husband, she invented a more effective method of remembering to take her pills: she created a simple calendar on a piece of paper and placed each pill on the correct day.

60ies Vintage contraceptive pill case

The Wagner's original prototype consisted of two clear plastic discs and a snap closure that they took from one of their son’s toys. The lower disk held twenty pills, while the upper disc had a hole that could be rotated each day to show the correct pill along with the corresponding day of the week. 

They patented the packaging, and the first pharmaceutical company to adopt it was Ortho-Novum. The new dispenser design they created for Enovid in 1973 became the packaging as we know it today.


"Table with Bird's Feet": a reissue in Cassina Simon collection

Meret Oppenheim; Table with Bird's Feet; 1939; photo; V&A Images, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Now a reissue in Cassina’s Simon collection 

Bronze Table TRACCIA by Meret Oppenheim for Cassina

Meret Oppenheim was the Swiss-German artist and poet who was considered a muse of the Surrealist movement founded in the early 1920s by André Breton. She arrived in Paris in her early twenties and got to know the movement’s leading exponents and other members including Man Ray, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Arp, and Marcel Duchamp.

Around 1930 Salvador Dalí – who had joined the movement, which was on an international level by then – suggested a new artistic genre, or that of “objects functioning symbolically”. 

The feature that ties together all the works of this genre is that they seem to come from dreams and fantasies. Often everyday objects become so different that they break free of their original functions and challenge established interpretations. Meret, fascinated by this approach, began to shift her focus to everyday objects, reinterpreted based on a shift in meanings that elicit mystifying and unique analogies for the viewer.


The Bikini: the revolution of swimsuits

The bikini, 1946

Bikini inventor Louis Réard chose Micheline Bernardini, a dancer at the Casino de Paris, as the model for the launch of his revolutionary swimsuit and had her parade it at the Hotel Molitor in Paris. Although the bikini was at first not completely accepted by women, it was a huge success with men. 

Micheline Bernardini as model for Louis Réard's Bikini

That year, the USA was conducting atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll, one of the 36 Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Named after the atomic bomb that had exploded on the island a few days before, the bikini also exploded onto the scene. 

Everyone in the world knew what was happening on the atoll, so why not name the new swimsuit “bikini”? For his first bikini, Réard chose fabric in the pattern of the front page of a newspaper. 

Réard thus made history, and opened his store in Paris which remained there for 40 years.


"Bikini as small as the Atom"

Bikini Design Sketch 

Despite the fact that a 4th century CE mosaic from the Villa Romana del Casale displays Roman women wearing what appear to be bikinis, we had to wait centuries to see two-piece swimsuits that allowed a glimpse of the navel. Women’s beachwear remained very modest until recently.

In 1932 Parisian couturier Jacques Heim first created a swimsuit much smaller than existing models, which caused a bit of a stir at the time. Because of its small size, it was renamed the Atome, or “atom”, after the smallest element known to date, and it was advertised as “the smallest swimsuit in the world”.


Paul Poiret and Belle Epoque fashion

Paul Poiret; day and night pajamas in silk jacquard; 1918

Paul Poiret Day and Night pajamas in silk jacquard


Paul Poiret (1879-1944) was a legendary French couturier. His contributions to 20th-century fashion have been compared to Picasso’s contributions to 20th-century art.  

Poiret dominated Belle Epoque fashion and reshaped women’s figures by freeing them from constricting corsets and popularizing high waists. Following the abolition of the corset, he went further with draped skirts, harem pants, and lampshade tunics. His technique of ‘draping’ instead of the common ‘tailoring’ brought him great success.  

Between 1916 and 1918 he launched a version of pajamas that could be worn both day and night, fostering ‘pajama-style’ fashion as an exotic and elegant alternative to tea gowns. 



Coco Chanel and women's empowerment

Coco Chanel wearing men's pijamas


Coco Chanel not only turned the fashion world on its head but made it value women for the first time. She created a revolutionary style for a new way of life, dreaming of an avant-garde and emancipated woman with a modern manner and style. 

In the 1930s, courageous Coco Chanel was among the first women to wear men’s silk (or velvet) pajamas on the streets, and the fashion establishment has never changed its mind since. Initially worn by women on informal occasions, including in the place of bathing suits, the eccentric display of déshabillé became a nonconformist statement for both the aristocracy of avant-garde fashion and the world of artists. 

Important women including Zelda Fitzgerald, Marlene Dietrich, Marquise Luisa Casati, Isadora Duncan, and even men like Salvador Dali and Garcia Lorca, had no qualms about confessing their love for the comfortable style of silk pajamas.


Wrigley’s Spearmint gum, a symbol of pop culture

Wrigley’s Spearmint gum; William Wrigley Jr.; Chicago, USA; 1893

Chewing gum is a fascinating part of pop culture, considering that it’s made of a synthetic rubber-based material, that additives have to be added for taste and fragrance, and that it’s totally lacking in nutritional value. But it’s now a part of many people’s habits as a stress reliever and breath freshener. 

Chewing with one’s mouth open was for a time considered a cool and rebellious way of doing things and became a symbol of youth culture. 


Product advertisement certainly played a factor in hyping up chewing gum. And Wrigley’s advertising was always a hit, like its commercial from the 1990s. 

In the commercial, a man and a woman on a Greyhound bus exchange a few glances while thinking about how to share a last remaining stick of gum. In the background the song All Right Now by Free plays, and the commercial closes with the slogan “great to chew, even better to share”.


Dixie plastic cups: disposable tableware for improving hygiene

Hugh Everett Moore; Dixie plastic cups; USA; 1908

Research on contagious diseases contributed to research on vaccines in the early 1900s but also helped popularize disposable tableware, including disposable paper cups which were adopted in all fresh water dispensers and especially in hospital facilities. 

Water used to be dispensed directly from a tin ladle and was drunk from communal cups on the streets: a highly unhygienic practice. 

Moore’s Dixie making plastic cups

Moore’s crusade against this practice led him to patent the first paper cup made of two pieces joined together with a flat bottom, which was later slightly hollowed out so that the cups could be stacked on top of each other. The rim was then slightly rounded out to provide structural solidity and ergonomics when drinking. 

In 1910, Moore founded the Individual Drinking Cup Company, which later became Dixie. Environmentally friendly and hygienic cups like these have never been more relevant than now.


Nava Design's "Ora Unica watch" designed by Denis Guidone

Denis Guidone; Ora Unica watch; Nava Design; Italy; 2010

Ora Unica watch by Denis Guidone, Nava Design


This watch features a face with a unique design, and its looped hands are almost illegible, generating a strange and unique watch. 

This wristwatch becomes an almost decorative bracelet with seemingly no practical function, but is in fact perfectly legible and functional, making time something fun and playful.



Tempo Libero watch, Bruno Munari's last creation

Bruno Munari; Swatch; 1997 

Swatch Tempo Libero by Bruno Munari


The Tempo Libero watch is perhaps Bruno Munari’s last creation. He was 90 years old and he designed a clock whose face is divided into two levels: a lower one that marks the time and an upper one where the numbers on the dial are free to mingle with each movement of the wearer’s wrist, released from their standard positions.  

The unruly numbers suggest that perhaps it is not important to know exactly what time it is, but rather for us to realize we are free to use our time as we want.


Minerva first portable record player designed by Mario Bellini

Mario Bellini; Minerva portable record player; Irradio; 1965

In 1965 Irradio asked Mario Bellini to create a portable record player. Irradiette was thus created and was a never-before-seen object that became the symbol of an entire generation. It is part of the permanent collection of the MOMA in NY.

Minerva vintage portable record player by Mario Bellini

Irradiette was followed in 1965 by Fonette and, three years later, by the highly popular GA 45 Pop Minerva, later produced by Grunding under the name Phono Boy. Phono Boy had a more mature shape than its predecessors and featured a compact but slender form.

It was created as an icon and became a visual and functional expression of freedom from bourgeois frameworks. A means of escapism as well as for political engagement in the year when youth protesting reached its peak.


Ceram X Collection by Pierre Charpin: a crafted limited edition

Pierre Charpin; Ceram X Collection; Craft limited edition; Limoges, France; 2003

Ceram X Collection Craft limited edition by Pierre Charpin

This set of fifteen small vases are in glazed earthenware and feature explicitly erotic decorations

The decorations are completely detached from the function of the objects, although there is a connection that exists in the possibility of choosing to display the sensual design or concealing it through positioning the vases in  different ways. 

“I don't differentiate between working for a gallery, a collector or a company,” explained Charpin, whose creations range from industrial products to installations to art creations in limited series, and who was named Designer of the Year 2017 by Maison&Objet for his “poetic form” consisting of bold shapes and colors.

Photo by Morgane Le Gall.


"Sosia for Campeggi": the mutant seating designed by Emanuele Magini

Emanuele Magini; Sosia for Campeggi; 2011
Sosia for Campeggi seating by Emanuele Magini


This beautiful design by Magini is almost prophetic. This is a sofa that can split into two armchairs, a sofa-bed, or become a space of intimacy and refuge.

This piece plays on metamorphoses to accommodate contemporary living that requires objects in the home that we can transform based on our needs. The entire system is in Lycra-covered polyurethane.



Cyrcus, a new concept of design studio

Alessandro Mendini; Monsters soup tureen; produced by Cyrcus; 2016, 3D print sculpture from digitally scanned Neapolitan Baroque soup tureen, reinterpreted by the designer.

Alessandro Mendini Monsters 3D Baroque soup tureen by Cyrcus - Design Italy

Founded by designer Denis Santachiara, Cyrcus is both a movement and a company and exclusively uses 2.0 suppliers, making widespread digital manufacturing a reality.

Creating, producing, exchanging, and consuming design thus takes on unprecedented and truly sustainable forms.

Cyrcus renovates the language of design by creating its products in materials like gold, silver, marble, steel, and aluminum, and uses 3D printing technologies like laser cutting and CNC, thus creating shapes that would be complex or impossible with traditional techniques.