a gift to calabria: antonio aricò's handmade puppet recounts italian myth and craftsmanship

a gift to calabria: antonio aricò's handmade puppet recounts italian myth and craftsmanship

for the past three years materia has made efforts to become the main design festival in southern italy, its objective to draw a map of italian design that highlights designers with roots in artisanal techniques, and with proud reference to their cultural heritage. the festival, now in its third edition, is hosted in the city of catanzaro, the capital of the calabria region otherwise known as the city of the two seas. ‘PASTmeetsFUTURE‘ has been the theme this year, connecting the experience of craftsmanship with tradition re-imagined for the future.

a gift to calabria: antonio aricò's handmade puppet recounts italian myth and craftsmanship

images courtesy of antonio aricò



mirroring perfectly his own approach to design, calabrese-born designer antonio aricò presents a gift to catanzaro to mark the occasion. in the form of a marionette, a small puppet called nirù tells a story about the region, inspired by myths of calabria and siciliy. the figure, which has been hand-painted by the designer, depicts a miniature version of a grifone, a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. it is crafted from ebony wood, and holds a brass olive branch to symbolise its’ peaceful approach. referring to the history of islam and the southern parts of italy, aricò describes the doll as ‘a moor who is not a warrior but who carries an olive branch – a meaning that is to be read by the child in all of us.’

a gift to calabria: antonio aricò's handmade puppet recounts italian myth and craftsmanship



aricò, whose work often emphasises the value of family, one’s roots and one’s culture, employed the skill of his grandfather and long-term collaborator, saverio zaminga, to make the marionette.  both familigia and familiar, this collaborative effort harks back to 2012 when aricò presented ‘back home‘, a collection unveiled during milan design week of limited-edition hand-hewn wood furniture produced in collaboration with his grandfather, a retired carpenter, and uncle. this year he presented una stanza, an attempt to capture the archetype of the ‘essential room’ which also featured a painting translated from an old photo of aricò’s mother. all are a testament his work which whether a limited edition piece or mass produced presents a personal experience inviting users into his emotional world.

a gift to calabria: antonio aricò's handmade puppet recounts italian myth and craftsmanship

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