NO-GRAM interviews Corrado De Meo and enters his secret world.
1) Can you describe the place and context in which your workshop is located?
I work in a studio-workshop situated in the very centre of the city where I live, Livorno, in a street that is very close to the famous Goldoni theatre. The square, with its nineteenth century architecture theatre, calls to mind the glories of a city linked to the sea and the trade of the foreign communities who were in Livorno in those years.
2) Why did you choose this place?
Since the start of my career, I have moved workshop three times, but I have always chosen to stay in the centre of the city because I believe that a certain type of “product” needs to be in a context where it can be presented at its best. If I speak a certain language, I have to be sure that I will be understood and I think the centre of the city is the most dynamic and communicative place for this “language”.
3) Does the context you work in influence your way of creating?
No, I have always proposed my idea and vision and by doing so, have tried to offer food for thought, a new approach to materials and innovative solutions. In a city that is not so inclined to innovation, I have always been a lone voice.
4) Is your studio open to the public or is it a private space?
It is a mixed environment, where one part is open to the public, with showcases both inside the premises and overlooking the street, and another part where I work, which is my “secret” space, where alchemy takes place.
5) Does this choice help you in your work?
This subdivision is critical and helps my mental structure. In the part that is open to the public, there is a certain strictness. The pieces on show come to light after of a process, firstly of thought and then of actual making and are the result of a sort of "order" reached, a conclusion through a complex adventure that ends with a "form" and its "poetic language". In the workshop area, on the other hand, chaos reigns. A disorder full of small objects, fragments of stories that have ended and small abandoned leftovers, that though apparently distant from each other in form and materials, interact significantly with my inner world. At the end of a process in which these object are left to “brew”, I feel the need to reconcile these "leftovers" in a sort of puzzle that will tell a new story, consistent with the research that I carry forward on the transformation of materials.
6) Does your making process limit itself to the space where you usually work or does it extend to other places?
I would say that it continues even at home, and maybe I can add that the theoretical part of this process of "association and solution" is never interrupted.
1) Does the design of your work, take place in a different space from where you make the pieces? Why?
At times the initial part does, that is to say the theoretical part, but then I have to go back to the “chaos” of my studio to be able to touch the materials, observe them, to understand that the time has come to “listen” and then recompose them, in search for a new means of communication.
2) Can you describe this space, the way in which you operate and design the pieces?
As I said, I feel at ease when I can see and touch the material, and this necessity obviously generates chaos, but it is precisely this chaos, then, through processes of association and experimentation, that makes me act to create something that, in my view, is a new form of aesthetic / formal order.
1) Can you describe your workshop space, tools?
My workshop has an irrational architectural form. It was obtained, and looks like a large hallway with a bottleneck in the center that allows me little mobility. It is low-tech and provides just the tools necessary and essential for the work of a goldsmith: manual mill, draw plates, blow torch, drill, polishing machine, ultrasound and the rest of those tools that are used to bend, weld, cut etc.; typically what is needed to hand work metal.
2) In what ways does this space come into relation with the type of work you make?
In my studio, I am surrounded by things that are part of my experience; objects and fragments that I have chosen, gathered because they tell me a story. For me those stories are still alive and contain references, such as the shade of a color, the geometry of a form or the physical nature of a material, which bring me in turn to tell a story, even if completely different from the original one.
1) Can you analyze your creative space (work bench) indicating unusual aspects, personalizations in the way you keep your tools or other aspects that make your bench special?
My bench doesn't have any particular personalizations. When I moved to this space, I had to change my bench because it was too large for the present space and I bought a smaller used bench, that bore various marks and burns. The fact that I had to get a smaller bench wasn't a problem for me, maybe because of the fact that the work I do is quite repetitive and not so technically specialized. On the other hand, my stool is special and allows me to rest my knees while working so that I keep my back straight and don't get too tired.
2) Can you describe what you feel when you sit at your bench to start on a new piece?
A new adventure begins and I always feel a mixture of anxiety and excitement, like when I'm going on a trip