Space dances with me

Fabio Novembre handles the living matter of design with the tact of a set designer and the energy of a choreographer. In doing so, he creates a lithe dialogue between bodies and places,inner being and matter

Design continues to this day to be a young discipline! Proof of this lies in the fact that it has never created an area of research which is separated from production and consumption. As a young discipline, over the years it has often drawn on neighbouring fields of research for inspiration: the heavy industry in the post-war period, programmed art in the Sixties, architecture in the Fifties and Sixties, furnishings from the Thirties to the present day and, more recently, craftsmanship and applied art. Among those who have managed to transfer their experiences from one discipline to another, I have always felt Fabio Novembre deserves a mention of honour. Novembre has contributed to the world of design tapping from his experience in the context of “set furnishing”, a field in which he played starring roles on several occasions, early in his career. I can still recall the Bisazza showroom in Berlin and Barcelona, Florence’s UNA Vittoria Hotel, the Tardini store in New York, Café Atlantique in Milan and many installations that seemed to unfold in their surroundings with the same spirit and approach expressed by a great set designer.

As a set designer, he approaches space with the same passion of a fashion designer who wants to take possession of a woman’s body to reshape it, to enhance it, to add a little mystery, appeal, complexity and … opulence. The spaces that Novembre designs are always characterised by the desire to “go one step further”: adding richness and complexity where the architecture moves, speaks, listens and questions itself, even with daring moves, like a body attempting to release itself through dance. “The way a ribbon unfolds in space can be seen as the trim of an unworn gala dress, or a film that has come off the reel of an unseen movie,” explains the architect and designer. So Novembre knows how to read spaces, and he knows how to move them with all the nonchalance of a flag thrower. But space is also the body, and the body is where he experiments. He is convinced that “there is no division between what you do and who you are.” This conviction has guided him towards new horizons in creativity and experimentation, from the first environmental experiences to works on and for the body. Whilst the world of design expressed itself through rational and abstract elements for many decades, with Novembre we see a return to the irrational process (Surrealism, Dadaism and Situationist International for an imaginist Bauhaus, radical Architecture, Adhocism, Neo-eclecticism) reproposing, in all its abundance, the complex relationship with anthropomorphic forms.

Scenographic installations, rediscovery of the body, but also the desire to produce works that are loaded with concepts. It appears that love is the conceptual and emotional key which Novembre uses to give sense to his works. Love, but also water, gravity, chaos, order, cities, people, Venus… categories that can enhance a setting, an object, an installation. Accordingly Fabio Novembre takes his place in the world of design as something of a pied piper, full of energy and, at the age of forty, already views himself in the role of the “maestro”: he spotlights his achievements in design and his personal knowledge to make them spectacular. With great skill, he appears (and therefore exists) using all the tools at his disposal: exhibitions, publications, articles in all the biggest magazines. At the start I mentioned “set designing” because I think that this discipline, which has always enhanced, modified and defined settings, is the key to understanding Novembre’s work: as elated and elating as a mise-en-scène in which he is, at the same time, actor, spectator, director and, above all, the set designer.

Mestieri d'Arte n.7, Arts & Crafts & Design n.3