Freed from Design, 2018
Freed from Design, 2018 is a previously unseen piece by the artistic collective åyr which incorporates one of Achille Castiglioni’s most famous projects, the Arco lamp produced for Flos in 1962. Marking the centenary of the designer’s birth, the artists have incorporated one of the most iconic pieces from the golden age of Italian design into an artwork that is, at the same time, an epitaph to a lost world – the past age of design that we have “cast off” – and a surrealist, dreamlike comment on the marginal role of a country like Italy in the platform market. In a global economic network without boundaries, the movement of capital flows wherever the conditions (legislative, financial, social, and infrastructural) are most advantageous at any given moment, without bestowing any recognisable economic, social, cultural or architectural heritage upon the territory and community they feed off. The lamp, unwieldy and cumbersome, is a reminder of the clumsy irrelevance of the fanfare over “Made in Italy” production, while the Italian flag hangs limp, as powerless as local governments often are when faced with the demands of tech giants. Any interpretation of the piece’s ambiguous resonance ultimately boils down to what it looks like: an old lamp that produces no light, utterly useless.