Friday, March 25, 2011


Words/Boutique Images by Judith Ecochard
Design Miami Images Courtesy of Fendi


Although luxury goods (and not the mass market kind, ahem) are truly available on a global basis, the values and customs of those customers from around the world, still differs greatly.

As an example --- having spent time/lived in Western Europe…we felt how integral culture and the arts are--- to the way of life over there…we can’t think of any country where school budget cuts start with the arts programs for example. It would be like choking off the oxygen supply.

We thought about this as we stepped inside the spaciously elegant Fendi store on Fifth Avenue…to take in a one day only “live’ installation of geometric functional sculptures based on nature’s quasi-crystals-molecular structures that never repeat, fyi--- created by expanded polystyrene foam, coated with industrial Line-X spray---and now covered with the exclusive brightly hued Selleria leathers (incorporating the colors of the S/S 2011 season)

--- By the acclaimed architect Benjamin Aranda ...

...and the immensely talented Roman craftsperson, Fendi employee Ester Di Sarno.

And that how vital it is to society, IMHO-that humans value the arts as well as science and technology. That in fact, they can be one and the same.
Close-up of handwork
Hence our keen interest in attending Fendi’s one-day installation---exemplifying the aforementioned fusion of custom made, luxe hand made creations with modern art.

Pieces  from Art Basel Miami

Or to quote the Press Release:

The organic partnership between FENDI and Aranda\Lasch is an effort to visualize the culmination and advancements in combining old world craftsmanship and modern day techniques, which results in the form of a Modern Primitive.

Fendi's design project Modern Primitive---is from a concept that debuted at the prestigious Venice Biennale 2010 where the architecture duo Aranda/Lasch was the only American architects honored.

Jump forward to Miami's take on Art Basel- where the functional sculptures (have a seat) were first attired with the exclusive Selleria leathers created by Silvia Venturini Fendi…

Slyvia Venturini Fendi 

Images from Design Miam

Since then, the functional structures---with crisp hard geometric lines, softened with materials--- have toured around---now in the United States.

And as told to us by the charming Ester Di Sarno, the handsome stitch she laboriously uses on a Modern Primitive is exactly the original hand stitch used to construct the Roman saddlery made for the Italian aristocrats, back in the day…and is in turn, a signature Fendi detail “that harks back to the 1925 collection.”

“Quality is luxury,” Di Sarno observed, “We use the same stitch as the handbag.” 

“…each bag is made in a very small quantity…one by one at a time, that gives the message to the client that we are still artisans.”

“It’s about the beginning to the human end.”

And in that sense, we understood completely--- as from concept to actually luxury item, Fendi magically gives customers a chance to place a special, custom order for a unique Modern Primitive piece of their own- via an iPad app (very cool)…

This requires passion, creativity…and the knack to make things happen.


Di Sarno graciously showed us some of the special and subtle details that make a Fendi carryall so drop dead gorgeous…and durable--- made to be used.

For example the individual solid hardware plaque inside the bag, etched with the serial number and number of the quality of the leather used to construct…

The neutrals--- white, deep chocolate brown, and black are the perennial favored hues…but we also love the bold saturated colors of the current Spring/Summer 2011 collection that we saw displayed brightly lining the front wall.

We were so lucky to get there early and share such a wonderful conversation ---in flawless English no less…and not in our mangled Italian.

We were fascinated with the special –not for sale either-  handbag linings and scarves made from a special Japanese fabric…”Washi” –a fabric with medicinal properties used in healing applications. Curious as we reviewed a gee whiz textile with similar properties for the brilliant Swiss company, Schoeller.

How appropriate that a high-end Italian brand, family owned---would actively support a cutting edge artistic work. Bravo to that.

As a Fendi email summed it up:

Modern Primitives is a perpetual conversation between different creative fields, mixed materials, artist and audience, design and craftsmanship, and the harmony between old world techniques and modern day principals.

We look forward to more…