What happens when famed art collector and Deste Foundation founder Dakis Joannou joins forces with what is arguably the most offbeat and mind-boggling publication out there? In an attempt to document his unparalleled collection of Radical Design furniture, Joannou commissioned artist/provocateur Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari - the creative masterminds behind TOILETPAPER magazine - to create a book that proudly celebrates a period that marked a revolutionary shift in stylistic direction in Italian design.
Founded in the late 1960s by a progressive group of Italian designers, the Radical Design movement was firmly opposed to the ethics – and indeed the very notion of – ‘good design’ or taste. Stemming from a loathing of the sterile state that design had come to at the time due to the uninspiring prevailing trends of previous decades, groups like Archizoom and Superstudio challenged the perception of furniture design and the gravity applied to function as opposed to form, giving birth to remarkable objects of surprising proportions, playful shapes and bold colours.
As ambitious and daring as the era it celebrates, 1968: Radical Italian Furniture is a book that fearlessly transcends the realms of a conventional design catalogue. Published as a fully-illustrated board book and featuring drawings by one by one of the Radical Design movement’s foremost architects, Alessandro Mendini, the 120-page tome promises to take us on an uncanny journey through Joannou’s collection as imagined in TOILETPAPER’s inimitable way. From Cini Boeri and Ettore Sottsass to Superstudio and Verner Panton, the duo lends their fresh eye to iconic pieces of design history, creating a series of imagery that is at once humorously retro and fantastically surreal.
Drawing inspiration from Playboy magazine spreads of the late 1960s and 1970s that saw Hugh Hefner’s bunnies parading alongside novel ideas in architecture and design, the book warps cultural and contextual realms, fusing reality and fantasy with a dash of cheeky eroticism that ranges from seduction and allure to straight-up fetish galore. Somewhere amidst a wild Technicolor reverie, pin-up girls meet pin-up furniture in the land of indulgence and perpetual delight, where life is never short on lurid fetish wear, suggestive lollipops, mountains of spaghetti and even live poultry. Exhilarating fluorescent dreams and ironic nightmares pop up through its pages, crafting a sinister yet fascinating place where instincts, senses and desires are saturated to the max.
Seductive, captivating and utterly surreal, 1968: Radical Italian Furniture is the perfect homage to a period of design that despite its brevity still continues to be a major source of inspiration. Nothing short of an eye-popping visual feast, Joannou and TOILETPAPER offer us a book that reads as instant design porn, tantalizing the minds of every avid style aficionado from the first to the very last page.
‘1968: Radical Italian Furniture’ by Deste Foundation/Toilet Paper with a preface by design curator and journalist Maria Cristina Didero is available now.
YatzerTip: For more mind-boggling visual madness, make sure you check out Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari’s ‘Toilet Paper’ book that gathers all of the images published in the first five issues of the namesake magazine along with a significant portion of previously unpublished images.