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Gabriele Salvatori talks about the inspiration behind The Village

04.2021

The inspiration behind The Village: a talk with Gabriele Salvatori

The Village is a collection of miniature sculptures in natural stone, each expressing the vision of its designer’s interpretation of the concept of home.

Inspired by Gabriele Salvatori’s reflections during the 2020 Lockdown on the importance of home, it also examines the idea that no matter where in the world we are from, no matter what our background, when it comes down to the essential things in life, we are not so different from each other.

The world is, in effect, a global village, reflected also in the make-up of the various designers of international renown who are involved in the project. We talk to Gabriele about his inspiration for The Village and why he thinks so many designers were keen to contribute to it.

Gabriele Salvatori Talks about The Village: a collection of miniature houses inspired by the experiences of the 2020 Lockdown.

What was the inspiration behind this project?

I had the idea during the first lockdown in early 2020 when the world literally came to a stop overnight. In Italy, we were probably the first major country to completely shut down, and at the time it seemed unthinkable, something from a far-fetched science fiction film.

After the initial shock, two things in particular really struck me. The first was just how important your home is. Up until then, many people perhaps saw it as not much more than four walls, something very functional. But, all of a sudden, it became a kind of refuge that not only protected you, but also affected your mood and how you felt, as you were in it 24 hours a day, weeks on end.

The other thing was the spirit of solidarity that you saw. Not just with immediate neighbours, but also from the rest of the world, when it was just Italy hit so hard at the beginning. It showed me that suffering brings people together and that when it comes down to it, we are all very similar at heart. We all want the same things: peace, love, serenity, to feel safe.

And that’s when I started rethinking the concept of home and wondering how others saw it, and how it might be interpreted in – of course – natural stone.

What gave you the idea to involve a series of designers rather than just one, and how did choose them?

I wanted this project to reflect my idea of a global community, where we all may come from different backgrounds and cultures, but we find a way to live together. So, it made sense to apply that same thinking to the sculptures, so that we end up with a miniature version of the real world, this small but great global village.

As far as who would be involved, well, whenever we work with designers, the starting point is always shared values, but for this project I wanted them to also represent different geographic areas and influences that would come through in their work.

So, we have Kengo Kuma representing the vision and sensitivity of the Far East, then Steven Burks, whose work is influenced by his cultural background, with his expression of African architecture and attitudes. Representing the Anglo-Saxon world is John Pawson, and we also have George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg, with their different roots giving them a diverse vision and way of looking at things that results in a wonderful natural fusion.

Then, on the European front, we have Patricia Urquiola with her Latin flair, the distinctive clean lines of Belgian Vincent Van Duysen and last, but not least, our longtime friends Piero Lissoni, Elisa Ossino and Rodolfo Dordoni representing Italy.

What I was after was a group of completely diverse outlooks and visions, but that would somehow work together to bring my concept of a multi-cultural commonality to life through their work.

So, what does “home” mean to you?

The pandemic meant that many people looked at their homes through fresh eyes, and that was certainly what happened with me. Up till then, home for me was a place I never spent much time in, and when I was there, I inhabited it in a kind of distracted way, if I’m honest.

I actually have two homes, one in Milan, and one in Tuscany, near our headquarters, and both of them, I’d chosen furnishings, colours and so on to create environments that were pleasing to me, but now there’s something more. I see my homes as a kind of nest, they are an external extension of who I am. And I now also see “home” in the widest sense as somewhere I can shut out the world and feel almost as though I’m in this lovely, safe cocoon.

What does the idea of The Village represent to you?

For me, The Village is an expression of the world as it really is. It’s a miniature representation of the world we live in, a world that sometimes it’s hard to view objectively, because we tend to get bogged down in our own little world, our own immediate backyard. But really, the world is a community, and it’s not as big and different as we tend to think, but took a pandemic to make us really appreciate this.

The world is really just an extension of the concept of family. The same dynamics that we experience every day in our own homes are the same as you see throughout the world, but obviously on a far larger scale.

The Village represents this. It’s like an outside voice that demonstrates in a wonderfully simple way what is really going on.

Why are you presenting the work of the different designers gradually, rather than all at once?

There are a couple of reasons. The first is that I think that each designer deserves their moment in the spotlight. After all, they were given free rein to create something that reflects their taste and their personal vision. It goes beyond art, design and architecture to encapsulate something that is really quite intimate and personal. In some ways, you could say that each designer is baring their soul to us.

Then, most villages are created over time, with new homes being built and new families arriving gradually, rather than in one hit, and I like the idea that The Village reflects this.

Do you have an idea for exhibiting The Village in its totality at some point?

Once we’ve presented each work, my dream would be to reunite them and bring every miniature home in The Village together physically and exhibit them in their entirety.

Salone del Mobile would be ideal, and it would also be the chance to celebrate a return to a new normal, which, I hope will be based on values such as solidarity and respect for what makes us all different. That’s my master plan, at least!