The winners and finalists of the first edition of the La Grande Bellezza Award signed by Starhotels
A source of light for the renaissance of fine Italian craftsmanship
The first edition of the prestigious biennial La Grande Bellezza award has been presented this year, an initiative created by the Starhotels group in collaboration with the two leading institutions in the Italian arts and crafts sector, the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art and the OMA - Osservatorio dei Mestieri d’Arte - and with the Gruppo Editoriale publishing house. This year’s competition centred on the evocative theme A Source of Light, with the ambitious aim of rewarding the remarkable artisan expertise which is widespread all over Italy, and a particular focus on works that valorise the overall theme of Italian beauty and the link between manual skills and creativity, as well as those which involve a contemporary reinterpretation of complex traditional techniques that are falling into disuse. The panel of judges, which included acknowledged names in the fields of design, applied arts and journalism (like Ugo La Pietra, Barnaba Fornasetti, Stefano Boeri, Marva Griffin Wilshire, Livia Peraldo and Ippolita Rostagno), selected a shortlist of ten, from which Elisabetta Fabri, President and CEO Starhotels - mentor and spirit of La Grande Bellezza - chose the winning entry.
The award went to the acclaimed Fabscarte atelier of Milan which, in a collaboration with designer Francesco Maluta, created Selvatica (in cover photo), a wall lamp with LED backlighting, conceived as a window to the outside world, linking nature to places where it is missing. The front panel is painted paper, the back of which is textured with a series of patterns to create a play on light and shade; the oval shape is reminiscent of Oriental fans and the varying thicknesses and textures of the paper allow the light to shine through in an evocative way. The decoration is hand-painted using watercolours. This intriguing and sophisticated piece was chosen by Elisabetta Fabri as the winning entry: “A poetic and romantic interpretation of light, which I chose because of its dual character as both an artwork of exquisite craftsmanship and a contemporary designer item: the perfect combination of design and tradition, concept and exceptional manual skill”. Fabscarte was founded in Milan in 2000 by Luigi Scarabelli and Emilio Brazzolotto, who, after a two-decades experience in painting, decided to open a studio with young experts in artisan wall coverings. Their hand-painted wallpapers and paper products are the result of experimentation with materials and techniques both ancient and modern, and stand out for their exceptional richness and originality. The atelier collaborates with artists and designers and takes part in numerous events and exhibitions. “We seek inspiration in nature and art to create handcrafted works on paper and painted decorations which blend material, texture and colour in original ways to offer a new vocabulary for interior design”,the owners of Fabscarte say.
The top ten finalists also included Draga&Aurel, Alessandro and Elisabetta Bianchi, Tonino Negri, Nuova Vetreria Resanese, Barbara Abaterusso, Laura Carraro, Davide Medri, Salviati and Alessandro Rametta.
This was a highly successful first edition of the competition: a total of 113 entries were received from 15 different regions and 14 disciplines: glass, ceramics, paper, metal, precious metal, decoration, mosaic, semi-precious stones, scagliola, wood, dressmaking, tapestry, wax and leatherwork. The age range of the participants was also extremely broad - from 22 to 86 - an indication of the truly wide appeal of the invitation to take part issued by Starhotels and its partners.
Many of the entrants were established and well-known ateliers, and in general the submitted works were of very high quality and successfully combined tradition and modernity.
The techniques used included mosaic, scagliola, glass blowing, glass fusing, bucchero, embroidery, marquetry and lost-wax casting, as well as processes involving more modern technologies.
Lamps, glassware, mirrors, chandeliers, candelabras and lighting fixtures, and much more besides: several entries chose a symbolic rather than literal interpretation of the theme.
The result is a genuine map of Italian savoir-faire, giving a picture of the country that is even more meaningful at this time of deep crisis and difficulty.