Today’s walls, Elisa Ossino

Life is changing. We are facing a period of transformation, a period of growth, moved by a strong, sudden acceleration. As some things are moving fast, some other things stay still. Those are the things that are intrinsic within ourselves. Elisa Ossino, designer of the Teorema collection, talks about time, progress, and her personal relationship with it.

Time, a component whose value keeps changing in weight and significance particularly at this moment, an indispensable ingredient for quality and craftsmanship of certain design products. What does time mean to you today? Has this period changed your perception of it?
Everybody is experiencing a huge change in the matter of the perception of time, these days. We are rediscovering it, and with this sudden lockdown, that was perhaps necessary and that could have never happened without a crisis this serious, we are realizing that our rhythms were just frenetic.
Taking a step back, we should investigate on how the perception of space-time has changed with the extensive use of these powerful new technologies. Since the 20th century the temporal depth created by advanced technologies has taken the place of the depth of field.
Continuous and homogeneous space has found itself living within an adimensional space made of information flow, that makes less and less reference to the physical dimension. The experience of time has multiplied and diversified, it has no longer been ascribable to a unique and universal measure. On the one hand a figure of a subject in continuous movement emerges, accompanied in its movements by a range of rapid technologies; and on the other hand, the figure of a social subject who no longer needs to move as he is surrounded by a technology. In this complex scenario the notion of cyclical and linear time based on the certainty of the repetition of natural events has been replaced by that of intensive time, in which we all found ourselves catapulted and overwhelmed by a relentless speed.
Personally, I have always had a strange relationship with time. I have always felt the need to stop and observe nature. To alternate frenetic work rhythms with moments in which to step back and pause. This is where I am now, in contemplation. I look at this very difficult period and try to imagine possible future scenarios.
Then there is an important ethical meaning around the concept of time, linked to design and duration of the objects. This is a personal starting point in designing: I don’t like gadgets and disposable objects, for me it is important that objects resist fashions and last over time. I believe that at this moment it is important to deepen these issues and to produce in circular economy, with great attention to materials and to people’s relationships.

“The house represents shelter, protection, warmth, affection…. The egg, for its strong symbolism, found in many cultures….”


The moment we are living has caused in us many questions and triggered within ourselves a concern in finding answers to the needs of the past bringing solutions from the future: the change could be significant by adapting to new working methods (just think of important exhibitions that will take place online only, or of the possibility of augmented reality fashion shows); what evolution of your profession do you see in the future? What do you think are the critical issues and the new opportunities given by this necessary and unexpected digital challenge?
I believe this is the moment in which to observe the changes in their progress, it is very difficult to have answers. Economic and social aspects will certainly be the most urgent issues we will have to face, also project-wise. We will then have to come closer to digital technologies and intangible spaces and create new virtual processes: I tackled this topic several years ago in my university thesis that explored the dematerialization of spaces and interaction in virtual environments. I believe we will be facing a new dimension in which the direct perceptions will be combined with the ones filtered by the media.

How do you live the house these days? How did you convert some areas into temporary work spaces?
Simply taking my computer on a small table in front of the window, I can observe the lime tree in the garden. Spring is coming and the first sprouts become leaves. The speed with which they grow is impressive.

Tell us about the three inspirational items you have chosen. Especially about the meaning they have for you in relation to this historical moment: why are they important for your research, as architect and designer.
I’ve chosen the house, the egg and the mirror.
– The house is the archetype of my work, it represents shelter, protection, warmth, affection. The little clay house was built by my son years ago and has been a great inspiration for me in the development of a design project for children, Nume, developed together with some friends and my sister. Nume gave birth to several projects, such as a foldable house in white cardboard that could be customized by children. We’ve also organized several exhibitions around the theme of the house. The first one was “I’d like a blue roof with the golden stars”, an exhibition presented at Rossana Orlandi’s courtyard. A group of little houses whose interiors had been made by a group of children on the occasion of a workshop that I curated. Then “Create your space” presented with Tanja Solci at the Rotonda della Besana during the Salone del Mobile in Milan (2007) and then extended for months because the children living nearby, who used to play at the park on daily basis, have somehow occupied the little houses with their toys and belongings.
– The egg for its perfectly oval shape without a beginning and without an end, and for its strong symbolism, found in many cultures. It was associated with the feminine, in the cults of the mother goddess, as creator of life and cosmos in the hermetic tradition, symbol of inner transformation from raw material to philosopher’s stone in alchemy, golden seed in the Hinduism, symbol of the resurrection in the Christian culture.
– The mirror. A magical object that reflects images, linked to the theme of the double, divination, vanitas. It is an object I’ve always loved, able to amplify light, space and create optical illusions. I own many old and new mirrors, it is an object that has always fascinated me.

Name three words you consider relevant, today
Silence. It helps us to think and it is often more useful than useless noises and voices.
Peace. It is an important word for me, I have written it in subliminal messages, I’ve put it inside images, and it was also published on the cover of an important magazine. I’ve dreamed of it many times. I wish for the whole world to achieve it.
And Play. There is nothing more beautiful, both for children and adults. Playing helps us to face our reality, to put aside negative thoughts, and to smile, and right now we need it very much.

Watch the full video on Instagram Amini.

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