A Mediterranean flavour in Berlin
Marc Newson, Alberto Stampanoni Bassi, Salvatore Licitra
DE MAIO FRANCESCO
The Cologne-based publisher Taschen opened its twelfth world store in Berlin during the 2016 Christmas holidays. The opening ceremony continued for two whole days and saw the guest participation of legendary photographer Peter Lindbergh, who signed hundreds of books.
Extending over a floor space of 300 square metres, the new Taschen Store is located in Schlüterstraße 39. The project was promoted by the publisher’s founder Benedikt Taschen and included contributions from a number of professionals, including designer Marc Newson and the Milan-based architecture and design practice of Alberto Stampanoni Bassi and Salvatore Licitra.
Marc Newson was tasked with organising the wall shelving system used to display the German publisher’s prestigious books. But the real touch of magic was provided by the bright atmospheres of the interiors, whose unique combination of tradition and modernity was created by the Italian design team commissioned to supply most of the custom furnishings.
«The client wanted to create a Mediterranean atmosphere, knowing this would be very popular in Berlin,» they explained. «To do this, we chose a floor covering solution consisting of around 220 square metres of tiles originally designed by Gio Ponti in the 1960s for the Hotel Parco dei Principi in Sorrento. This choice also dictated the design and materials chosen for the furniture: we opted for the transparency and lightness of glass to allow the designs and colours of the floor tiles to be seen.»
Gio Ponti was in fact the grandfather of Salvatore Licitra, who in turn is the curator of the Studio Ponti archive, so it was only natural for him to choose some of his grandfather’s famous furnishings to enhance the image of this interior, which at the same time offers a journey through the history of twentieth century Italian design. Examples include reproductions of the armchairs designed for the hotel and the Montecatini chair designed for the first Montecatini building in Largo Donegani in Milan in 1935. Suspended from the ceiling is the original vintage chandelier created by Gio Ponti and Flavio Poli, part of the personal Taschen collection.
And everything — books and furniture, shelves and chairs — appears to float on the sea-like surface of the Blu Ponti series ceramic tiles with three different decorations (numbered 5, 11 and 21), all in a 20×20 cm size and in white and dark and light blue colours produced by Ceramica Francesco De Maio. The architects explained how they were chosen: «The tiles we chose were made by the same company that originally produced them for Gio Ponti, using the same production methods and a manual brush colouring technique. They used Italian-sourced raw materials and an environmentally friendly production process.»
The three different decorations also serve to distinguish the main spaces: one for the spectacular entrance hall, another for the reading and reference space, and the last for the exhibition gallery.
The inexhaustible power of ceramic projects never cease to amaze, as Gio Ponti himself said:
«… and I always think about the infinite possibilities of art: give someone a 20 x 20 cm square and — although over the centuries people have enjoyed coming up with endless different designs — there’s always room for one more, for your design…there will never be a final design…»
The project was selected for one of the «special mentions» in the 2017 edition of the competition Ceramics and Design.
Francesco De Maio, Blu Ponti
Type 5, 11 and 21
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): compliant
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): compliant
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant