Winning tales of beauty, décor, materials and surfaces

"All the young authors showed the ability to develop a single, neat and poetic broad narrative, where insight fluently blends with intent, and verbal thinking perfectly matches" – Enrico Fantin, President /CEO Fantini Mosaici.

There is an air of excitement in the Magnolia Courtyard of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera following the announcement of the winners of the Fantini Mosaici research-competition: “A Tale of Beauty, Décor, Materials and Surfaces”, launched in collaboration with the prestigious Milanese Accademia.

The outdoor courtyard has been converted into a spectacular exhibition hall to showcase the 21 winning works, selected from 60-plus entries. These include a mesmerizing array of colourful, geometric, abstract, and floral mosaic masterpieces, including three in 3D, handmade by artisans and based on the students’ enchanting concepts and limitless imagination.

"This exercise – devised to create and stimulate students' interest and view of how traditional materials like mosaic terrazzo and pebble stone can be used today – has resulted in a unique exhibition of youthful expressions, transformed into handcrafted works of art by our talented mosaicists,” says Enrico Fantin, President/CEO Fantini Mosaici.

The challenge

To participate in the Fantini Mosaici-initiated competition, Accademia di Brera students were asked to submit one, two or three projects, each with supporting images and a descriptive document outlining the purposes, feelings and inspiration behind their investigation into the expressive forms of the art of mosaic, designed to be subsequently translated into a mosaic.


The jury assessing the student entries includes: Maria Cristina Galli, Deputy Director of Accademia di Brera; Dany Vescovi, Director of the Accademia di Brera School of Painting; Felice Martinelli, Professor of Urban and Territorial Intervention Planning at the Accademia di Brera; Laura Traldi, Editorial Coordinator of / curator of DWProfessional; Sandra Kapp, Head of Content and Special Projects, Fantini Mosaici; Massimo Bruto Randone, Founder of Cxine; and Alessandro Consolo, Founder of Consolo Hub.

Jury's assessments

Three winning projects, ex-aequo (equally placed)

'Come carta stropicciata. Autoritratto imperfetto per mosaico' (‘Like crumpled paper. Imperfect self-portrait for mosaic’) by Julie Gun

'Armonia Magenta' by Marta San Segundo Gòmez

'Chessboard' by Federica Mattina.

According to Enrico Fantin, "The jury considered that these projects interpreted the general spirit of the competition in an authorial manner. They developed three vibrant narratives around the themes of beauty and decoration by introducing an elaborate, consistent and unconventional use of the materials and surfaces."

'Come carta stropicciata. Autoritratto imperfetto per mosaico' (‘Like crumpled paper. Imperfect self-portrait for mosaic’) by Julie Gun

"This is a highly innovative project in its concept: transforming a self-portrait into a mask, showing universal condemnation as a new way of conveying the notion of beauty. It demonstrates profound research on the dimension of being stems from a crumpled appearance. A work that also included a strong three-dimensional, almost bas-relief-like," the jury says.

The artist explains: “Like crumpled paper... To the bone, I consume myself in the torpor of a tough day, between the sharp folds of the minutes that flow between the wrinkles.”

'Armonia Magenta' (‘Magenta harmony’) by Marta San Segundo Gòmez

“This carried out a superb interpretation of the ideas of beauty, colour and decoration – describing the strong and endless relationship between art and nature. Inspired by the heart-shaped petals of the flower, Elisabetta Silene – an ancient symbol and a lover of stony grounds – this piece made of stone spreads its vital impetus capable of going beyond any border," the jury members concurred.

“[This piece was] Inspired by the ‘Elisabetta Silene' flower, renowned for growing in unusual conditions and found in Northern Italy, hence known as the flower of Lombardy,” says the artist.

'Chessboard' by Federica Mattina

According to the jury's deliberation, “This project highly identifies with the values of decoration and beauty, as in the decorative architectural tradition. The elegance of this potential floor, indicating similarities in construction with the Cosmatesque floors of the medieval Roman and Byzantine tradition, was reinterpreted in an almost cinematographic key and presented a narrative that relies on a musical pace".

The artist reveals: “[This piece was] Inspired by an imaginary ballroom in an Art Deco building in New York in the 1920s, where people dance and move like board-game checkers on a giant, colourful chessboard.”

Three projects awarded 'ex-aequo mention'

'Forme dell'Inesistente' (‘Forms of inexistence) by Federica Lancellotti

The artist states: “I thought to attempt to give shape to something that does not exist – converting a universal feeling into matter, taking inspiration from the elusive shapes and bodies; something is hidden, beyond normality.”

‘Legami’ (‘Ties’) by Chiara Turazza

The artist states: “‘To create a work is to create the world,’ argued Kandinsky in the early 1900s – I therefore invite you to enter mine: a kaleidoscope of colours, a ‘horror vacui’ inspired primarily by nature.”

‘Tangible shadows’ by Massimo Pugliese

The artist states: “Nature, with its changing forms and patterns, has always been the most fascinating inspiration for artistic creation.”

“All these projects were able to capture and broaden the directions of the competition; in some cases, by profoundly exploring the notions of beauty and decoration; in others, those of materials and surfaces. Each work inspired the jury to reflect, comment and expand on the authors' thoughts about the contest's themes, art and overall expressive techniques," says Massimo Bruto Randone, curator of the initiative.

Fifteen projects awarded 'Selection of Interest'.

The jury considered these student entries to be "engaging interpretations of specific aspects of the investigation/study on the expressive forms of mosaic art, unfolding relevant and qualitative figurative approaches."

During Milan Design Week 2023, the works of the 21 winners’ mentioned and selected projects are exhibited. Three of them as mosaic panels, handcrafted by Fantini Mosaici's master craftspeople, in the prestigious Magnolia Courtyard of the Accademia di Brera in Milan (18-23 April).

A unique commemorative catalogue on this innovative research competition will be published shortly, capturing the student's initial inspirations, the craftspeople hand-making each mosaic panel, and photographs of the winning entries.

"This successful project has given us a new vision and insight into how the materials our family has worked with for over 123 years can be applied to appeal to new generations," says Enrico Fantin.

The contest is the first stage of the Fantini Mosaici Accademia Project. A long-lasting journey that intends to involve young talents from all over the world, in the interpretation of the representative potential of mosaic art in our contemporary times. A research project that is part of the broader and historic Fantini Mosaics Art Program, which traces its origins to the 1930s.

Fantini Mosaici @ Milan Design Week 2023

This is just one of three Fantini Mosaici initiatives being presented during Milan Design Week this year; the others are 'Back to the Future' by AB+AC Architects and 'Submerged Aesthetics- Unveiling hidden beauty' an installation by CARA\DAVIDE, curated by Park Associati. All involve the challenging ideas of young architects and designers, pushing the boundaries of how mosaic and terrazzo can be used today and making them unquestionably materials of tomorrow.

Texts: CATHERINE BELBIN, Design Editor

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