„Do what you love“ is the leitmotif of artist, designer and photographer, Marco Morosini. A motif that gets to the heart of the subject of this issue, „AFFINITY“. We meet the industrial designer, who trained in Urbino and Augsburg, in the Marche region at the „Castello di Granarola“, where in a decade of consistent design, he has succeeded in elevating a historic site into an artistic experience. Guests will find here, on a rural hill just a few kilometers from the Adriatic coast, a magical retreat whose ambience and atmosphere are marked by Morosini’s signature in every little detail. It feels as if you are spending your holiday in the artist’s studio and museum. Morosini’s works are characterized by the power of color and light. They are mainly photographs, drawings, poetic writings, objects and sculptures that form a multifaceted universe in the context of the place and become a manifestation of boundless creativity. After years of international activity for major brands and numerous projects in the field of design, art and publication, Morosini himself has reduced himself to doing only what he loves and is very consistent in the way he lives. „Never look back,“ he says with conviction, and would prefer to only speak with us about the future. Nevertheless, in a conversation with him, we discover some highlights from his past: Years ago in Miami, he presented the exhibition and the documentary film „The Art of Selling a Bag“ on the occasion of Art Basel, in which he dealt with the relationship between art, design and industry. He exhibited his works „uominiuomini“ in Los Angeles and San Francisco and published design book volumes such as „KOSOVARS Camp Hope“, „DividiRimini“ and „No Copyright“. Together with his wife Barbara, he also founded the popular lifestyle brand BRANDINA.
HUGO V. ASTNER: Marco, this issue deals with the subject of „Affinity“. By this, we mean, in relation to art, a kind of connection, a natural understanding of it without being „taught“ the art itself. Do you also believe that there are such things, and what affinities does a Marco Morosini have?
MARCO MOROSINI: I believe in affinities. They can originate from different sources: places, spaces, people, relationships. Two people who create something magical together surely feel an affinity for each other and for creating together. There are sometimes downright explosions of creativity in the interaction that one would not be capable of individually. There are spaces that evoke affinities. These can be churches or theaters, where what has taken place there so far is also preserved to a certain extent in the space, giving it a special atmosphere. I was traveling internationally in urban centers, now I live in the countryside and am too often alone in the creation process. I am increasingly aware of the importance of finding people who have similar affinities, who you can confront, and who share the same level of communication and value exchanges. Too many people also focus on the purely economic aspect in the creative field. I, on the other hand, do something because I love it. I would even go so far as to say that I can only do what I like. This is my natural access to affinity.
Where do you see the interface between design and art? Are there examples in your work that explain such overlaps?
MARCO MOROSINI: Yes, absolutely! The crossover between design and art is at the core of my work. The British industrial designer and architect, Ron Arad, is also a very good example of this. His sculptures became objects. For example, when I design fabrics, the starting point is often one of my works of art. Many of my design objects have the potential to open up other dimensions than just those of everyday use. There are chairs that I have designed on which you can sit comfortably, but whose shape also gets you thinking. That’s what I’m talking about.
Did your parents encourage your approach to creativity, or how did you develop this particular gift for photography, design and art?
MARCO MOROSINI: My parents indirectly brought me to creativity because they modeled exactly the opposite for me. They never stood in the way of my development and I perceived that as a very positive thing. My father has a special biography. He comes from a very poor family, you could say he was an „outlaw“ in inverted commas and took every opportunity to extricate himself from this situation. My mother comes from a simple peasant family. For the two of them, a frame on the wall was a picture, regardless of what was in the frame. In my childhood and adolescence, we never talked about art or visited a museum. However, I played a lot of Lego, which encouraged my gift for composition. In my room I was allowed to develop as I wanted. Sometimes the walls were black, sometimes yellow. Once the room became a church, then a carpentry shop, then a discotheque. My parents never restricted me there, and I’m grateful to them for that.
How would you define beauty? Does it have a raison d’être when it comes to design and art?
MARCO MOROSINI: Beauty is universal. It is an overarching concept, something God-given. It is in design, in art, in music; it arises from harmony. I like to keep it there with Franco Maria Ricci, who always proclaimed: „Beauty must be cherished and cared for.“ Not preserving it is, in my opinion, a violation of natural laws. For example, letting historical buildings from previous centuries fall into disrepair is something I consider to be one such violation. For me, it is also ultimately always the beauty that brings me wonder.
How do the terms beauty, passion, art and design relate to each other – is there a common denominator in your idea?
MARCO MOROSINI: I would reduce this to the effort not to pollute your own soul. To keep the soul pure, I must face beauty and not reject it. Beauty often meets us, but we must also be able to accept it and cultivate it.
How do you define the design process of Marco Morosini, and what role do visions and dreams play in your design?
MARCO MOROSINI: Mmh… Morosini has developed many ideas that exist on paper as a design, but were not produced. I have often implemented graphic concepts in the past. Many of my most innovative works are still in the drawer. They are not a response to commercial needs, but are real innovations. It requires courage and „dissenters“ to bring them to market. I never copied anything. My ideas and objects are like my voice, which suits me because it is natural. The dreaming, the fantasy, sometimes comes over me even in the middle of conversations; I then shift the attention, begin to sketch and sink into it. If something comes out of it, it has nothing to do with a commercially thought-out plan. And that gives my work a natural recognition value. I am not a „follower“, but a „creator“. And if you are, then you cannot abandon this gift, but it takes you over, whether you like it or not, whether the moment is appropriate or inappropriate.
So trends do not play a role in your design-oriented work…
MARCO MOROSINI: I am not influenced by trends, but I am inspired by today’s society. We find the greatest inspiration outside our usual environment, where it is least expected.
What role do you think art should play in our society, but also in areas such as economics or ecology?
MARCO MOROSINI: Art has to be part of education, it has to become part of our education system and it has to find its way into the life of all of us as early as possible. Art is something abstract, and yet the only vehicle to open up other dimensions to you. Art takes you places you wouldn’t be able to go without it. A life that experiences engagement with art is a different kind of existence, and this circumstance can be essential to a healthy society. This then has a further impact on the mindful handling of economics and ecology. Nature has the most creative forms that exist, rising above everything else. Anyone who has a natural understanding of art cannot help but respect nature in all its manifestations.
How could one manage to make it easier for people to access art, so that they become designers instead of administrators?
MARCO MOROSINI: Not everyone can be a designer. I, for one, cannot play football either. Everybody has their skills. It is important to cultivate what you can and like to do. If there are designers in our society, they should be valued as such. And in terms of access, I believe in widely available art, accessible art. Art does not have to be exhibited in a gallery to be appreciated by a select group of people. Art can then make a difference, and I am convinced of this when it opens up public spaces.
According to what criteria and virtues do you define a successful designer or successful artist? On what does success primarily depend?
MARCO MOROSINI: Here, I would first start with a question about the definition: Is only the visual artist an artist? I don’t think so. An artist is someone who manages to open up a new dimension to you through their expression. We have a saying: someone who works with their hands is a worker; someone who works with their hands and head is a craftsman; and someone who works with their hands, head and heart is an artist. You can feel the difference, whether an object fulfills only a certain purpose or has an artistic soul. In my opinion, success has nothing to do with the quality of art. There are many successful „artists“ whose work has no soul and vice versa. Well-known Italian car manufacturers have used your expertise as a designer.
According to which criteria were you selected and with which USPs or concepts were you able to make a convincing case?
MARCO MOROSINI: Yes, that’s true. Although I prefer to talk about the future, I used to work for Ferrari, for example. At that time, I was discovered through my project „uominiuomini“ and could subsequently win people over with my project ideas. In these times, emphasis was placed on the artistic approach of a designer. This has changed a great deal in recent years. Now, the focus is rather on economic efficiency.
Can you please briefly explain how you came up with the brand BRANDINA, and how this extraordinary lifestyle project developed?
MARCO MOROSINI: Brandina was a random invention. I made a book about the lifeguards in Rimini. I made the cover from the material of the deckchairs, which are colloquially called Brandina. And the quality of this material convinced me and my wife Barbara to make bags from it. This is how the Brandina brand was created. The idea alone wasn’t enough to bring success, but we had to be able to implement it in a sophisticated way. Today, „Brandina“ is popular, especially because the bags and accessories are not fashionable. Rather, Brandina embodies a kind of lifestyle of independence. In essence, it is about a „positive mood“.
You bought a more or less dilapidated castle here and renovated it with a lot of love: Castello di Granarola – how did this come about?
MARCO MOROSINI: I only realized the beauty of the place later. I brought back something historical that had been destroyed. It is a gift to myself and also to all the people who like to come here and feel comfortable. Sometimes it doesn’t take so much to make something „beautiful“. Even simple gestures can be enormously effective. This world demands beauty, and that is not always related to financial possibilities. In the Castello di Granarola, you have dialogues, you have experiences, and you live and experience an artistic spirit. It has become an internationally renowned place, a retreat for art, culture and beauty, something authentic and at the same time spontaneous. Everything here is connected with my joy in designing and doing. Everyone who visits the castle is living this experience with me, and that’s great.
What projects are you currently working on, and what do you want for the future or what expectations do you have?
MARCO MOROSINI: I am currently working on projects for Valentino Rossi. His new store, which I was able to design, will open at the end of November. Working for such a „legend“ is something very special. I am grateful for that. The store is a real pilgrimage site for the fans, so it is an extremely important place. And I wanted to achieve this in essence: You will not enter a store, but a place that has a soul, the soul of a legend. And as far as the future is concerned, I plan to move my design studio to the grounds of the castle. The underlying olive grove is suitable for this purpose. As a result, the site is to be expanded by one element and made even more diverse. In principle, I only want to design more projects in the studio that originate from art and not from a business plan. Honestly, I am not a fan of expectations, because expectations per se imply disappointment.
Even if we understand what Marco Morosini is trying to say, we definitely cannot agree with the last statement at this moment. The conversation with him and our days in the „Castello di Granarola“ proved exactly the opposite: our expectations were far exceeded. We are grateful for this acquaintance, the creative exchange and fascinated by a place that is enlivened by its tireless creator.