With objects made from fusions of iron, copper, bronze, and brass, artplayfactory elegantly celebrates the structural and expressive qualities of metal.
Artplayfactory was founded as “Angela Ardisson Studio” in Milan in 1987. Ardisson (b. 1966) specialized in graphic design during her schooling at Florence’s Accademia d’Arte Leonardo Cappiello, and worked as a model to pay for her education. It was during her visits to the Parisian flea markets of Porte de Clignancourt, Porte de Montreuil, and the secondhand market at Porta Ticinese in Milan that she discovered her true passion for objects, forms, and the materials from which they are made. Ardisson channeled this interest into jewelry design, with a focus on stone, jute, wood, and metal, and refined her self-taught application of the requisite construction techniques in the workshops of master artisans. In 1996, she began working with metals and treatments of their surfaces with organic oxidation, and in 2000, the studio changed its name to Artplayfactory Studio, when Ardisson extended her focus to lighting and furniture design. The studio has always been located in the Navigli area of Milan, and is comprised of Ardisson and, since February 2018, interior designer Victoria Solano. The studio has collaborated with a range of designers and architects worldwide, including Rita Salameh, Deniz Tezir, and Beretta Associati.
The philosophy behind Artplayfactory is “the art of living matter,” and the influence of organic formation is evident across the lighting, furniture, and installation design produced by the studio. Another strong consideration, for Ardisson, is light, which she regards as the “soul of a space.” The materials used in the studio’s output – such as wood, resin, glass, fabrics and plastic polymers, and, more recently, iron, bronze, brass, and copper – are often sculpted in ways that allude to the natural landscape, but are nevertheless showcased for their structural and expressive qualities, including the ways in which light plays across their surfaces.
This joint approach is evident in the Nut collection of lamps, which feature shades made of hand-sewn brass-colored fabric, resembling, in appearance, the case of a walnut. Produced in a variety of configurations, including models for ceiling, table, and floor, they offer a subtly playful take on suspended botanic forms. The frames of these pieces embody a modernist, functional design, while the artistic approach to the material – brass treated with organic oxidation – facilitates an active and expressive surface interplay of light and color. Ardisson expands on this textural potential in her Earthlands series of objects. Using strong, geometric forms, the surfaces convey, as a result of their manufacture, visual suggestions of large-scale geological formations. The subtle vibrancy of these marks derives from an alkyl-experimental technique of fusing multiple metals within the same surface. Iron, copper, bronze, and brass are merged with each other, resulting in unexpected patterns and chromatic effects. These results are unpredictable and differ on each occasion, rendering each object unique. The Island and Continent lamp designs from this collection are composed in a stacked, modular manner, enabling varying elements to combine and overlap when viewed from different perspectives. The Terrae table design, meanwhile, conveys, on solidly contrasting spatial planes, the two-dimensional formations that have emerged, by chance, and in almost painterly fashion, from these chemical processes.
Airplayfactory has exhibited at Milan Design Week since 2000 and first presented its Earthlands Collection in 2016 at the city’s Spazioborgogno Gallery. In 2018, they presented at Zeus Gallery, in collaboration with glass specialists Effeto Vetro, their Ussari Bay series of lamps, inspired by the glass-filled coasts of Vladivostok, Siberia.