Founded in Milan in 2000 by architect Luca Cipelletti (b. 1973) studio AR.CH.IT, in conjunction with researching, is focused on different themes to urban, architectural and exhibit design as well as artistic direction. AR.CH.IT has an adaptive and interdisciplinary approach: tuning its structure and tools to every project, according to the situation, needs, desires, opportunities and results to be met; in order to reach the uniqueness of a concept. The office has been pursuing for years, an interdisciplinary research, a Conversation between art and architecture, a renewed work methodology capable of generating visions in addition to giving a significant contribution to the cultural quality of the project.
AR.CH.IT © Paul Barbera “Where They Create”
Conversation with Luca Cipelletti by Maria Cristina Didero
MCD Your approach is flexible and your projects are always punctual, even though you do not adopt a common style. How would you describe your design method?
LC The uniqueness of the project, just like every client, is the aspect that most interests me. This kind of attention to the context and the person is indispensable for creating harmony with the space where I am working, and therefore designing the most suitable place or object for every specific situation.
It is from here that an attentive study of pre-existing structures, possible references and layers starts; in fact, I believe it is important to consider the history of a place in order to make interventions, even minor, that are capable of modifying the perception of space.
Another aspect that I also consider to be important, even more so during the period in history in which we are living, is economic sustainability of ideas and projects, to ensure that these do not remain utopian ideas on paper and can instead contribute to the definition of a way of creating cultured and long-lasting architecture.
MCD You have brought many other experiences to architecture – from music to fashion, from research in museums to the Artistic Direction with the United Nations. What is connecting these experiences? Does one influence the next?
LC All these experiences come with an interest, a curiosity, sometimes with a contact. What connects these areas that seem so very different, is their pragmatic dimension, the passage from observation to form and the need for visual communication; these processes require work that is rarely solitary in nature, but is instead an interdisciplinary exercise and sharing of knowledge. In short: a method. When I approach a new project, whether an exhibition, an architectural project or a video, I try to build a team of people with multiple skills that can contribute in the best possible way to the project, each according to their own talents; this operation can become quite complex but the result is often surprising. Common effort is always paid back.
MCD Who your maestros?
LC I have several. Of all Franco Albini, incredible architect and museographer; his work inspired the great passion that I cultivate for museography. During my student’ years I had the opportunity to work with Studio Albini in several projects, it was a precious opportunity. Ettore Sottsass, with whom I was fortunate to have worked with on the occasion of his last exhibition, organized by the Triennale Design Museum in Tokyo in 2006, it has been an inspiring time. Sottsass taught me about freedom, instructing me in the research necessary for comprehending the true essence of the project, and above all transmitting a doubt: it is always important to ask yourself the sense behind what you are designing. Massimo Valsecchi, important art dealer in the Milano of the 70’ and today a catalyst of ambitious interdisciplinary projects, thanks to him I established long-lasting relationships, both professional and personal, with artists as David Tremlett and French couple Anne and Patrick Poirier.
MCD Among your parallel experiences, the collaboration with the United Nations was without a doubt atypical for an architect. How was this relationship born and what kind of stimuli did it bring to your projects?
LC The collaboration with the UN started in 2003 when they asked me for the design of an itinerant exhibition travelling through Europe and reflecting on the fixing principles of the Millennium Campaign, after that I prosecute to collaborate as Art Director for different projects.
I think that the most difficult but certainly the most fascinating aspect of all these collaborations is translate and communicate ( through exhibition, graphics and events) the very complex meaning of words so to get easily to as many people as possible. This conceptual synthesis helped me very much in every museographic project; in fact, every exhibition must above all else favor the contents and message that the exhibition is supposed to transmit; the form is only the consequence.
The stimulus in this work is the richness of contents and the opportunity to be focused on themes of social relevance and this is central for the practice of an architect.
MCD How important is the design relationship between the artist and architect to you?
LC After diverse experiences as a museographer, I have sought out a design relationship with artists. These collaborations without a doubt also present some complexities linked to diverse work methods as well as personalities, but the opportunities that come from this type of exchange are enormous: for the architect, more free scenarios open up, visions that would not have been considered otherwise; the artist is faced with the temporality and the function of a specific place.
This kind of shared think tank is largely unexplored, still experimental. In those kind of projects the client is often public – for instance, the Garden of Hypnos with the Municipality of Gorgonzola and the Museum of Science in Milan.
Maria Cristina Didero (design professional and independent curator)
Luca Cipelletti (1973) graduated in architecture from Politecnico di Milano in 2001, he started to work, during his students’ years, for Studio Albini Helg Piva in national and international competitions and several architectural projects. While studying at Politecnico, he worked with different institutions to develop other interests as well. From 1992 to 1998 works with the Italian National Chamber of Fashion as press agent for 13 editions of Milano Collezioni Donna. From 1996 to 2001, with Teatro alla Scala, in the cultural promotion of the theatre, first as a member of the coordination of the Youth Group of Fondazione Milano per la Scala, then as a member of the Board of Governors and Executive Committee. From 1998 to 2001, with the Region Lombardy in a long-term survey of museums, followed by the monitoring of museum premises, design projects, publications and lectures on museography and exhibitions. In the year 2000 he founded Milan-based studio AR.CH.IT focused on different themes to urban, architectural and exhibit design as well as artistic direction. In 2003, he also started an on-going cooperation with the United Nations – Millennium Campaign as consultant and art director. Studio AR.CH.IT, in conjunction with researching, has several ongoing projects such as the architectural redevelopment of the National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, The Garden of Hypnos with artists Anne and Patrick Poirier.