Head to Head Séparé: Artistic and Artisanal References Underscore New Screens

Isabella Prisco
·3 minuto per la lettura
Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Cassina, DePasquale+Maffini
Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Cassina, DePasquale+Maffini

From ELLE Decor

Considered among the most acclaimed accessories of the year, screens return to the center of interior design for offices and restaurants with the goal to support and facilitate the new rules of proxemics declared by social distancing. Used to separate desks and dining tables, partitions offer a design solution to distance and protect. But while the work conducted by some designers pushes towards pragmatism, the use of light materials, and the study of alternatives to classic models in plexiglass, others prefer to explore the formal and aesthetic expressivity of traditional screens. So, like creative digressions, the new additions of this year resemble full-fledged artworks. Conceived especially for residential contexts, they become sculptural objects to admire, and when positioned at the center of the living area or bedroom and desk, the new séparé are passable limits redesigning domestic space in the name of decoration. For Cassina's Balla screen, the contribution of a great artist is cited, while the beauty of handmade is highlighted in the Venier screen by Sebastian Herkner for La Manufacture.

Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Cassina
Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Cassina

In collaboration with the heirs of Giacomo Balla, Cassina revives a screen with vibrant tones and a strong artistic imprint for the I Maestri collection. It’s impossible not to catch the homage to the great futurist genius, who, among other things, was also a scenographer: the pattern applied along the three panels in honeycomb wood is in fact an original design created by Giacomo Balla in 1917. Published for the first time by Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco in the book “Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe” (Rome, 1968), it’s a tempera and pencil on paper, realized on the back of two identical photographs portraying a man not recognized until today. The two maquette are marked by a “Boccioni's fist” stamp, occasionally used by Balla to distinguish his works in place of the “Futurballa” signature. Next to the drawing are indications as to the use of colors and possible chromatic combinations: “Drawing of a screen the dark green must be much more beautiful and the light cinnabar green bright lemon yellow and orange. It can be done with other combinations of colour as you want and according to the effect you want to give,” words attributed to Art historian Elena Gigli to Luce Balla, one of the artist’s two daughters. The result, a product of the study carried out by Cassina’s Research and Development Center, is an adjustable accessory available in two versions: one, with an orange background in yellow and green, which reflects the colorings of Balla’s sketch; the other, with a white background in blue and green, which perfectly pairs with the spirit of free interpretation exhorted in the words of the artist’s daughter.

Photo credit: Courtesy Photo La Manufacture, Studioblanco
Photo credit: Courtesy Photo La Manufacture, Studioblanco

Before giving consideration to its functionality, the Venier screen makes its mark with rich decorative qualities. Designed by Sebastian Herkner for La Manufacture, the sculpturally evolving screen panel underscores the surrounding furnishings, drawing attention to its distinctive character. The German designer, an alumnus of the HfG Offenback University of Art and Design, is known for a refined touch, capable of designing objects and furnishings that stand out for their sage balance between materials, colors and ornamental patterns. It’s also for this that Venier is a celebration of the manual weave: strips of colored leather intersect with the metallic structure to create an unusual geometric effect and a unique sense of movement. The meticulous weaving and attention to quality of the material at hand enhance the practicality and artisanal expressivity of the piece. It’s with this that the French design and fashion company flaunting Made in Italy production with a penchant for “exalting international craftsmanship and timeless aesthetic” embraces Herkner’s idea of the screen’s age-old function — that of covering and protecting without folding to the aesthetic annulment of pure functionality.