In the Mix
Time, Light, Space
Poliform takes part in Design Miami/ Podium x Shanghai, furnishing the Design Talks Theatre and presenting a special installation by photographer Paolo Roversi
“Every photograph is a portrait. Whether it’s a person or an object, the aim is always the same: try to lift the mask, go beyond the surface and get to the soul.” —Photographer Paolo Roversi
This past year, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, renowned Italian design company Poliform celebrated by inviting famed Italian photographer Paolo Roversi to capture its history and ongoing work in a new light. Roversi—an award-winning photographer best known for his intimate, beguiling portraiture and fashion images—responded with a powerful series that helps tell the story of the brand’s home and artisan traditions in Brianza, the family behind it, and its role in the design universe over the past 50 years.
The resulting photographs are captured in Time, Light, Space, a new book published by Rizzoli. And this month, they also became the subject of an immersive artistic installation by the same name on the ground at Design Miami/ Podium x Shanghai, Design Miami’s first major collectible design event in Asia. Guests to No. 1 Waitanyuan, an urban oasis on the northern edge of the historical Bund, can enjoy the experience of Poliform living for themselves, as Poliform outfits the event’s talks theater with Roversi’s beautiful images and a special video about the anniversary project (see below), while also fully furnishing the space—where designers, architects, and other special guests gather throughout the event for conversation and conference—with important pieces from the brand’s decades-long history, including Marcel Wanders’ Mad Chairs and Jean-Marie Massaud’s Orbit coffee tables, Le Club armchairs, and new Saint-Germain sofa. The complete Poliform installation is conceived as a complement to Design Miami/ Podium x Shanghai’s curatorial theme “Wu Gan: The Art of Design,” which underscores the relationship between objects and environments, and the aesthetic, emotional and spiritual experiences they can evoke.
For his part, Roversi—who, prior to this project had not previously shot furniture—found the prospect of working with a design standout like Poliform particularly exciting, and approached the new challenge as he does all his acclaimed work, saying, “Every photograph is a portrait. Whether it’s a person or an object, the aim is always the same: try to lift the mask, go beyond the surface and get to the soul.”
Further: “I say that a photograph is a portrait because I isolate my subject from everything around it until it truly becomes the center of the world. A portrait is a kind of exchange between me and my subject, a vis-a-vis, a face to face. Whether it’s a piece of furniture, a tree, a landscape, or a person, it’s somehow the same thing, a real face to face between me and my subject.”
As Roversi writes in the new book: “All my work is based on the search for beauty. Everyday I wake up and I never know what the threshold to that other dimension where photography takes me will be. Sometimes it’s a smile, a look, other times an object, a space.”
When asked, in his recent video interview, what it means to tell the story of the soul of an object, the photographer replied: “Extracting the soul from the subject, describing the soul, means trying to show not only the surface of things, their appearance, but something more. Soul is a word that can mean everything and nothing. It’s about describing something more substantial, more intense and more exciting than just the surface and the appearance.”
With these new images, Roversi evokes the emotional connections between humans and objects, speaking to the Poliform spirit through the enduring, universal language of photography. ◆
Poliform is an official partner of Design Miami/ Podium x Shanghai. Located at No. 1 Waitanyuan in Shanghai, Design Miami/ Podium x Shanghai runs through November 14, 2021.
Ongoing news about the show, including shoppable 3D exhibitions, is available via Wechat/ Design_Miami. Follow us! QR code here: