Sonnets to Orpheus
Mariano Fortuny’s printed fabrics made their debut in March of 1906. Ballerinas from the Opera de Paris wore his textiles as veils on the Comtesse de Bearn’s private theater stage. Fortuny’s Knossos scarf was hence born, featuring Minoan-inspired motifs in exuberant asymmetrical patterns. Printed on silk, the free-flowing fabric could be worn in countless ways, allowing for freedom of expression and symbiosis between body and costume. The stage also included an ornate printed velvet curtain, the size of which must have been a significant undertaking.
Along with Henriette, Mariano created these textiles at the Palazzo Pesaro Orfei in Venice. Now the Museo Fortuny, the Palazzo then carried the names of both the Pesaro family, who built the 15th-century Gothic palace and the Accademia degli Orfei, the palazzo’s 18th-century musical residents. By the time Mariano Fortuny had moved into the palazzo, there were over 350 artisan tenants within its walls. Slowly, Mariano acquired the units until he possessed the whole building. The palazzo was a wonderland of experimentation for Mariano and Henriette. They mined the art and antiquity that preceded them to create timeless textiles and garments using innovative techniques.
The poetry of their craft emanates a charmed beauty, much like the legendary Greek musician, poet, and prophet Orpheus. It’s fitting that the building where Mariano lived and worked in Venice bore his name. Orpheus, like Mariano, was a magician of a kind whose music was said to cast a spell over flora and fauna, compelling nature to bend to his poetic voice. He also practiced the occult, astrology, and fantastical arts. Orpheus’ creative and spiritual power is captured in the dancing foliage of our Orfeo pattern.
The design’s sensuality is felt throughout the body, much like the Parisian ballerinas in 1906. In fact, sections of the original Knossos printed scarves from that period included a leafy pattern almost identical to Orfeo.
In honor of spring, poetry, nature, and sacred inspiration, we’d like to share a poem from the Bohemian-Austrian poet, Ranier Maria Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus. A frequent tourist in Venice between 1890 and 1920, Rilke sings of vitality, curiosity, and color as spring materializes.
Spring has come again. The Earth is
Like a child that has learned to recite a poem;
No, – many, many. … And for the difficulty
Of learning them now, the prize is bestowed.
She had a strict teacher. We liked the white
In the beards of old men.
But now we can dare to ask: How do you say green?
How do you say blue? – She knows! She knows!
Earth, you have been made free. You fortunate! Play now
With the children. – “We can catch you!”,
Oh joyous Earth! To the most joyous, Godspeed!
Oh, what the teacher had to teach her, the plenitude,
And what stands printed for her both in roots and in ripe,
Tough stalks: this she sings, she sings!
Graphite: a transfiguration
Our new metallic stampa, Graphite, offers a playful display of prismatic light and soft shadows—a wonderful shimmer on cotton that dares to rival silks. Inspired by the silvery-grey fluid which spills from an artist’s graphite pencil, this surprising gemstone has the finish of a diamond heirloom in the making.
The dark radiance of Graphite is applied to five of our new colorways: ORFEO petrol, koi, & graphite, ORFEO sea garden, gold & graphite, FAVO graphite monotones, MAYAN fog & graphite texture, and CAMO ISOLE fog, graphite & silver.
Our Graphite stampa’s soft shine has the same diamond-like strength and durability for which all of Fortuny’s cottons are known. Your guests will always be in awe of our brilliant glimmers, the intricacies of our designs, and the versatility of their use in your home.
Creator Talk with Enrico Cappani and Valerio Cerri
In 1901, Mariano Fortuny filed for his first patent for theatrical lighting. In 1907, Fortuny and his wife, Henriette, created the first Delphos gown, and in 1922, Fortuny started his factory on the island of Giudecca, where he expanded his textile printing. Fortuny was a great innovator and created lasting masterpieces, still highly desired over a century later. For IMAGO, we wanted to find today’s artistic innovators and create something we haven’t explored. Join me as I talk to the creative minds behind the IMAGO garden, Enrico Capanni and Valerio Cerri, about the artistic craft of digital rendering.
What is digital rendering?
V: “Digital rendering” or rendered images are, in my opinion, an efficient tool used to communicate an idea of space. If used in the correct way, it can be a support tool that can merge the spatial design capacity of the architectural “maquettes” and the photographic sensitivity in choosing a point of view.
E: A digital 3D image is the final result of a representation process that works with 3d software. In my workflow, I usually focus on six different steps: sketching, modeling, texturing, compositing, and post-processing. All these steps converge in a final image that is technically called “Rendering.” I do not love this term because it is a technical word that only explains one of these related steps, so I like to call my works just “Images.”
When/How did you get into rendering? Did you go to school for it?
V: I got into rendering programs during my years at the University of Florence, Faculty of Architecture. My path is closely linked to the architectural concept, and therefore rendering is a consequence of it. We have not taken courses for this. The interest in the technological world and the passion for photography have simplified the approach to this tool.
E: I started approaching the 3D digital world during my studies at the University of Florence, Architecture Faculty, around four years ago. I was mainly using it to represent my projects during exams or competitions. I did not attend any particular course for what I do. I just started exploring it for my own personal interest. Currently, most of my images are for work projects, but I still do them also for my personal pleasure.
What’s the most challenging part of rendering? What is the most pleasurable?
V: I think the most difficult part is related to the technology that can affect the working times and the usage options. The best part of this process is certainly the design and creation of a scene or a space. Trying to mediate a client’s request with the imagery is certainly difficult but also the beauty of this work.
E: I am not sure I am able to name the most difficult part of creating images. Perhaps, I can say to represent exactly what you have in mind. For instance, today, in any 3D software, you can really do what you want, but if you do not keep your goal in mind, you can easily lose sight. As for the most pleasurable part, I can say that it is undoubtedly succeeding in this intent, no matter what you are trying to represent. In my opinion, succeeding in a set goal is the greatest satisfaction.
Besides furniture, what other types of rendering do you create? Is it all for work, or do you create your own art through rendering?
V: In my opinion, rendering is a support tool. My work is born from my imagination and linked to the subconscious of my experiences and photographic sensitivity. They do not arise from a rendered image, but the opposite. A rendering can’t exist if there is no architecture, sculpture, or design element. I often see people use rendering to produce utopic or idealistic images that want to amaze. In that case, I prefer to draw or paint.
E: As I said before, I love to explore various themes, and architecture is a huge part of this exploration. I recently made an unbuilt project of a house-temple in which the light and atmosphere are the real subjects. In my latest works, I am trying to bring a more organic approach to the composition. I have made some Candy-World visuals trying to imagine a surreal, dreamy place entirely made of sugar, I enjoyed working on this, and I think I will make other similar things soon…. Just for fun! On the work side, I have to mention my collaboration with the Architect and Designer Pietro Franceschini. We have been working together for over a year now and have always tried to take part in a collaboration that merges our two paths: his, more physical, and mine, more digital.
How long did one of the garden scenes in the IMAGO campaign take? What all goes into the process before you begin?
V: The work lasted about a month. After having imagined Fortuny’s garden with Enrico, we did an extraordinary job of coordination on the project. We are two hard workers, and this method allowed us to proceed step by step without any problems. The first images certainly took us more time due to the collection of the necessary 3D models and textures.
E: During the latest month, an image for that collection took around three to four days to be completed. In order to start working on them with Valerio, we made something not so different from another project. We selected every single flower and plant to be put into the surreal garden; then, we started modeling and composing the set of each image we had to deliver. We are extremely coordinated in what we do, and certainly, this has given a fundamental help to the work.
Which scene was the most fun for you to make? Was one particularly challenging?
V: Surely, the wide garden scene with the fountain was the most fun and challenging at the same time. Everything else started from there. We worked a lot on that image, but it also represents the moment in which we shared ideas and imagined this garden with long brick walls surrounded by a romantic atmosphere and greenery with Venice in the background.
E: I think that this question can be summed up in one answer: The 8 second video loop we made for the teaser of the Imago 2021 Launch. This was absolutely the most challenging and the most fun scene we have worked on. A video rendering is way more complicated than images. This was also the most important moment of the entire work, in which we understood how to compose this garden and the whole set design.
What advice would you give to someone interested in rendering?
V: The advice I can give is to have a clear goal before starting a rendering job. The digital world, unlike hand drawing, offers infinite possibilities, and therefore it is important to know what you want to communicate and produce. There can be many methods or tools, so figuring out which way is the fastest is another fundamental step.
E: I would suggest not to focus only on software. A lot of people in the last few years asked what software I use, but the real task in this work is making images, not to use programs. Everyone can find his own way into this.
Do you consider rendering an art form or a craft? How is it different than painting or drawing?
V: The answer to these questions could be found in Walter Benjamin’s book, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Painting, drawing, sculpture differ from everything that involves contemporary technologies for their relationship with the viewer and their uniqueness. I think rendered images can be a craft but not an art form. It could be compared to photography, but it is only the process that compares them. Instead, what photography wants to tell is a moment, an instant, of real-life according to the photographer’s eye. In my idea, images or video renderings are and should be a realistic representation tool to communicate a product, the work of art, that has been designed.
E: Making images sometimes is just doing what others ask. Other times they are an expression of your own intimate ideas. When images are used for self-expression, like a personal language that can only be translated into images, maybe that is art. Sketching or drawing is a fundamental part of the process, so I would say that it is strictly connected to images. Painting, on the other side, in my opinion, is the highest point you can reach to represent something. So definitely is something more than rendering.
How do you see rendering changing the world of art and design?
V: I think rendered images can benefit the propaganda of a design product, thanks to technology and media. The natural evolution of this mechanism is “virtual reality” that can change the logic of the market thanks to the application’s speed and the simplicity of communication, accessible to all, as well as the great possibility of being able to view an object before it is made.
E: I think that the use of rendering will increase a lot in this field in the years to come; firstly because it can be a way of studying a subject before creating it for real, secondly, but not less important, it can legitimate explorations that go beyond what you can do in real life.
I’m left with more questions than I started with but eager to see how Digital Rendering continues to shape the way we view the relationship between art and craft.
New York, April 2021
INSIDE: The Sun Room
With April’s chill in the air, the all-seasons sunroom is the premier spot to witness the audacious and colorful arrival of spring happening just outside its large light-drenched windows. The view is particularly verdant on a bright and rainy afternoon, loosening the weeds for the next day’s tending. In spring, when you can’t be in the garden, at least you can be in the sunroom.
When it comes to decorating the sunroom, the backdrop of complementing greens seen throughout the year offers the perfect opportunity to showcase bold personal style. This sunbaked Venetian palette mimics the richness of the earth with rust red and terracotta tones that sprout the lush frondescence outside. The geometric patterns offer a graphic balance to the abstract foliage and softly painted flowers of the surrounding garden. The combination conveys a “Gen-X grown-up” zeitgeist, with a sophisticated nod to the 1970s.