Valencia – Valencia-based furniture brand Andreu World was born 65 years ago and yet its products feel wholly contemporary. Two practices have helped maintain that ever-updating contemporaneity: Over the years, the brand has defined itself through a careful, even reverent, combination of craftsmanship with technology. Meanwhile, the family-run company also collaborates regularly with designers who allow it to see and communicate its own values through different eyes and diverse voices.
Over the past several years these practices have been furthered by the publication of a series of 'cultural documents' called Stories. The most recent is Stories 4: Mediterraneanism in Color. Stories 4 uses the more emotional components of Andreu World products, its finishes and materials, in order to reach beyond the products and talk about the broader culture, architecture and design with which the brand and its customers identify.
To create Stories 4, Andreu World tapped one of its masters of finishes, Giulio Ridolfo, who works with design concepts to offer 'a lexicon' of expression to each new design through colour, texture and materials. Ridolfo was asked to create a document and an exhibition that would transform ordinary mood boards into painting-like canvases that explore Mediterranean colour and the various emotions that each is capable of evoking.
The result is 12 curated palettes of expressive hues and textures ranged in small canvases that may combine textile swatches with a fragment of packaging, a flower, a hunk of graphite or a veined tile of brown marble, for instance. Each of these palettes embodies essential aspects of this unique geography while deconstructing the brand's finished products into the deeper emotions that animate them.
The brand, of course, inhabits other cultures and geographical contexts, but the Mediterranean is its native and natural environment. Andreu World's character and values, its emphasis on hand-making, attention to detail and organic materials, for example, are rooted in this place where elegance is warm and artisanry passed down through generations embraces the newest technologies.
For Ridolfo, Stories 4 is also a very personal document. It is both a meditation and an exercise that views the 12 colours through Ridolfo's masterful lens. White reminds Ridolfo of chalk, yellow reminds him of olive oil. Red is the colour of joy and blacks have a closer relationship to texture than colour. 'To me, the story of Non-Black is a story about the moment before night falls. It exists in the contour of an eggplant, and in the colour of the sea as it disappears at dusk,' Ridolfo says. 'It speaks a more serene language. Non-blacks are very intuitive to me: they represent our epoch, an era when nothing is defined at all.'