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The ancestral desire to know the future, to be able in some way to orient it by overcoming the natural limits of space and time, is inherent in the human being to the point of becoming the motionless engine of countless activities among the most disparate - be they creative, scientific, political and not only divinatory in the strict sense. For Federico Pazienza, an Italian designer with a studio in Rotterdam who has as his design signature a depth of thought that makes his practice close to philosophy and anthropological analysis, the recent experience of the pandemic and the lockdown has triggered a substantial rethinking of the approach to design.
His research on the visual and symbolic language of traditional playing cards, carried out for some time, has taken on a different meaning and the focus has shifted from the front, with designs of suits and figures, to the back, with a generally identical abstract decoration for all elements of the deck. The reason for this change lies in the meaning of the Cartomancy project, which consists of four large carpets representing as many card backs, in red and blue, exhibited at Meme Gallery in Milan. The designer considered the effort to design is too often linked to the desire for interpretation or intervention in the future and, for once, he decided to “leave things as they are, without trying to change them”.
The project reflects a status quo of suspension but not of waiting, it is focused purely and simply on the present, an essential basis for building any kind of future - this is the reason for the coach of the back of the cards, and not the front. There is no superstitious formula in this, rather a form of reappropriation and awareness - our existence depends on present choices, even on apparently random ones dictated by a popular game. In the suggestive graphic sign of the Cartomancy carpets you can read references to Gothic churches, the gardens of Versailles, alchemical symbols and the history of art.
Pazienza's work, which has constantly to do with human archetypes and moves on the razor's edge of truth and mimesis, absorbs meaning from the context in which it is developed. An empathic immersion aimed at absorbing and translating the canons of a specific moment, which the designer seems to undergo with the aim of returning to the observer a new object, full of a meaning that everyone, consciously or unconsciously, will be able to recognise as an integral part of our humanity.