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Fendi has been reaching beyond its luxury and fashion heritage to work with young, emerging talents in design. It started with design talks and performances at Design Miami/ and has extended to Fendi Craftpunk during Salone del Mobile, a project with the Royal College of Art in London, and, most recently, Fendi Craftica by Formafantasma at Design Miami/ Basel. This winter the fashion house will be back in Miami with a project by the Belgian designer Maarten De Ceulaer that responds to Fendi’s signature Pequin motif. At Design Miami/’s vernissage tomorrow, you’ll be able to see De Ceulaer’s project “Transformations” which juxtaposes lacquered wood boards and tree stumps with handmade leather planks.
Behind all this is Silvia Venturini Fendi, whom we sat down with in Rome at Fendi’s headquarters after visiting Formafantasma’s Craftica performance in Basel last June. Below is an excerpt of our conversation that appears in Whitewall’s winter 2013 Luxury Issue, out tomorrow (https://whitewallmag.com/subscribe).
WHITEWALL: Fendi partnered with Design Miami/ Basel for the first time with a special design performance entitled Craftica by Italian designers Formafantasma. Fendi has been working with Design Miami/ in Miami for years, now. Why participate in Basel as well?
SILVIA VENTURINI FENDI: We decided to support design five years ago. We started with Miami, but from there we moved on and we brought Design Miami/ to Milan. Then we started collaborating with design in London with the Royal College of Art. So our collaboration with design is getting larger and larger. It was kind of natural to move also to Basel, where Design Miami/ is so big.
WW: Why is it important for Fendi to work with these younger designers?
SVF: I think it’s very nice to reconsider this old rule of masters and pupils. At Fendi, we are used to being open to youth, because that is what is in the family history. My grandmother opened it to her daughters, and my mother opened it to me. I didn’t go to a fashion school or university because I had a kind of university at home. This makes it easy for family to support young blood, young people, young activity. What we like is to really grow a support relationship. We have been doing this with design and with music. It’s a way of giving a stage to young people. I think they become richer, and the same thing happens to us. It’s a mutual relationship that works very well.
WW: You give these designers pretty free rein to create.
SVF: That is because there isn’t a marketing reason. We do this kind of collaboration just for the pleasure of having unique pieces and to experiment with techniques and see their version or our fabrics, materials, DNA, and our iconic materials. We sometimes have one or two meetings, or just by mail, depending on how the project evolves and how much help they need from us, or from our factories, or our artisans. But there are no rules. We are open to anything. The fact that these items are not made for sale is the base of the success of these relationships.
WW: Has there been anything that you’ve adopted from the projects at Fendi? Any techniques?
SVF: Well, no, not in a conscious way. They have probably had an influence in me.
WW: Has design always played an influential role in your life?
SVF: In Italy we have a very strong tradition in design, but of course growing up in a family where design is so important had an effect on me. I grew up surrounded by beautiful things. I’ve learned from my mother that beauty is in everything. When I was little, in my house we had to pay attention to how we moved and not to destroy things. I wasn’t always allowed to have posters in my room. I was only allowed to put them in my cupboard.
WW: You’ve compared Fendi’s atelier to an experimental design studio. Would you still make that comparison?
SVF: I think at Fendi we are always very much working on materials and workmanship. My personality is happier in the atelier than at a party. It is really where I feel happy. We are always investing a lot of research in technical aspects. I think [that comment] also relates to the fact we were born a leather goods maker.
WW: In addition to designers, and you mentioned musicians, Fendi has worked with artists. Do you think there are boundaries between design, art, and fashion anymore?
SVF: Well, I think this of course is a reaction of the global world we live in. I think the creative community is much more linked today, because the world is becoming very small.
To read the complete interview, pick up Whitewall’s winter 2013 Luxury Issue out this week, or order it online HERE.