When I think of the most romantic city in the world, I would most likely think of Paris or Venice. I have visited Paris a handful of times and of course, it lives up to the reputation of being romantic and beautiful. Never have I visited Venice, until this September when HOMO FABER invited me to join them to explore the best European craftsmen show on the majestic island of Fondazione Giorgio Cini.
When I arrived at the airport I was greeted and taken to my taxi boat, which I was not expecting. A twenty-minute boat trip and I had arrived at my hotel. I honestly didn’t realise you were straight onto the water from the airport. It was bumpy but it was an experience I will never forget. That night I had some free time to take a stroll and grab some pizza and a gelato before calling it a night. Knowing that I wasn’t in the city for long I decided to get up early and take a short boat trip across to St Mark’s Square. I did do a little research before I arrived and read that it gets busy with tourists, which it does, very early in the morning. I don’t like busy places with tourists, it makes me a little uneasy, so I made sure I walked away from the crowds and stumbled across the most scenic streets. Sometimes you just need to get lost to explore much more.
This was the first year of HOMO FABER – situated on a separate island in Venice, Fondazione Giorgio Cini. It in itself was beautiful and I don’t think the exhibition could have been held at a more stunning location. The whole idea around HOMO FABER is to give a new perspective, a place to inspire and showcase some of the finest European craftsmanship there is and it didn’t disappoint. The whole event was organised by the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship, a non-profit international organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland. The Michelangelo Foundation mission is to preserve, encourage and promote fine craftsmanship.
You can walk a vast 40,00 sq feet on the island, but today I am going to share my four favourite exhibitions that I visited. There was a total of sixteen exhibition spaces.
Fashion Inside and Out
Curated by Judith Clark who has worked in fashion exhibitions for the past 20 years, this exhibition looks at how fashion is almost always viewed from the surface and questions what if you were to pick this apart and look underneath.
“By thinking about craftsmanship, we open a window to be able to look again at the processes by which fashion emerges”.
By far this was my favourite space out of all the exhibitions. Yes, the fashion garments were conceptual and showed imagination and really stripped back fashion from the last 20 years, but the show stopper was the evocative space of the swimming pool. Avant-garde pieces were displayed inside the pool, on boardwalk stilts making you discover different techniques of fashion.
Discovery and Rediscovery
Twenty craftsmen demonstrate techniques sharing their knowledge and skills to visitors. This was very visual and hands-on, something I’ve never seen before. I loved that you got to visually see these skilled artisans do what they know best. They took the time to answer any question you might have had and each response was given out of passion.
“Discovering such valuable things and, especially, rediscovering the spirit that goes into the re-making, can feel like finding an old friend again.”
Having discovered all twenty, all were unique in there own ways. I had the pleasure to watch and try myself, but the one that stood out was the perfume creating by Aquaflor Firenze. So much goes into making personalised scents and if you were lucky enough you could get your own personal scent made up. I waited and waited but as you can imagine the demand was high and I had so much more to explore. I did, however, walk away with an appreciation of how much goes into perfume and scent.
Creativity and Craftmanship
HOMO FABER asked eight different artists to present a piece of work around the theme of objects with an interior. I loved the idea that these artists were given a brief and presented eight completely different objects.
“The imagination strikes out on a journey of exploration and discovery: creativity. The expert hands lifts material and transforms it on a search for essence and limitations: Craftmanship. The crossroads of creativity and craftsmanship is a leading edge charged with possibility.”
Each object was placed in the room with videos playing for reference of the objects from start to finish. It is something I am personally really interested in, I love learning about an artist and how they developed their idea right until the end and seeing it been made.
Probably one of the most photographed spaces at HOMO FABER when you look on Instagram and a clear favourite of mine also. When you walk into the space you immediately hit with the graphic black and white floor and the wooden cut-out structure of The Henri Rousseau Forever Pavillion. This then leads on to the Merry-Go-Round Pavillion which is comfy and you could easily spend all day lounging on the big velvet curved sofa.
“The know-how of craftsmanship is at its best when it serves the imaginary. When the might of the hand is combined with the might of the mind, magic is revealed. Only beauty can result from this encounter.”
It was full of imagination almost like stepping into India Mahdavi dreams, who is an Architect and the creator of this interior decoration.
When I came away I felt inspired and gained much more knowledge on how things are crafted and preserved. Venice is a beautiful city and I think the island that HOMO FABER showcased on was a hidden gem in Venice. You get to explore areas that are not usually open to the public, which is a little special. HOMO FABER is an exhibition that runs every two years so the next one will be held in the year 2020 if you fancy attending.
This was a press trip sponsored by HOMO FABER who covered all my travel expenses from flights to accommodation. Thank you kindly for inviting me.