Focus on: The word of the future

Interview with architect Oliviero Baldini

These editions of Pitti Uomo, Pitti Bimbo and Pitti Filati paid tribute to visual communication and in particular to graphic design, which interprets the present and anticipates the future through its signs, shapes and moods. Pitti Immagine called on 14 young international graphic designers, selected by Giorgio Camuffo, and asked them to express their view of the future in a word, which was then translated into a series of images installed by the architect Oliviero Baldini in the inner courtyard of the Fortezza da Basso. We met Oliviero Baldini to understand how he managed to turn these ideas into a big-impact coherent installation project.

How did this installation idea of yours come about and develop?
The theme of this edition was to bring graphics into the Fortezza in a big way. We worked to highlight the images produced by 14 graphic design studios. Conceptually speaking, all our work started with the idea of a site being set up, this is why the huge box-like structures on which the images are mounted become powerful monoliths manoeuvred using forklift trucks, waiting to be assembled according to a final design as yet undefined. They are waiting to be unloaded, one next to another or one on top of another, to build a wall or a volume or who knows what… under the vigilant eye of the two “lighthouse” towers. The final work must give the impression of an unsettling wait for a not yet finalised happening.

What do you think of the words suggested by the graphic designers? How did they make you feel? 
My first impression when I saw the words chosen by the graphic designers was that they were particularly inherent to today’s context. When I then read the words chosen, NOW, TECHNOLOGY, EMPIRE, CURIOSITY and MONEY come to mind, they made me think of the fragility of the world “system”. Words like FOREST, MEMORY, SILENCE, BALANCE and REORIENT made me think of the expectation characteristic of our period in history, the idea that might well be that of stopping to wait for something to evolve, clearly in a positive sense. Reading them all together, the feeling is one of “uneasiness”, but perhaps this is precisely what characterises our contemporaneity.
What is the special trait of this mobile installation?
Leaving aside the logistic needs of the various events that will be held at the Fortezza while the IT’S GRAPHICS NOW display is in situ (Pitti Filati, Pitti Bimbo) with all the problems linked to moving a display and taking it down, the fact that we can move these billboards and store them in the meanwhile in less busy locations is definitely an advantage, even if, as I have said before, this is not the conceptual reason behind the project. The initial desire was to create a display that during the day and the events would move the forklifts with the graphics to various points of the Fortezza in order to arouse even more curiosity in the run up to a “final event”. From a logistics point of view, given the huge number of people and the very strict safety regulations, this hypothesis was suspended, unless we considered doing it all once the show closed, from one day to the next. The movement would have given an idea of developing… work in progress.
How do graphics influence your work?
I am very interested in everything that leaves a “mark”, whether it be street art, graffiti or graphics. Anything that manages to stand out in the confusion of the urban panorama. The inherent characteristic and capacity of graphics to summarise a concept in a few “marks” definitely makes them the noblest form of expression in our world. When the result is optimum, I find it truly fascinating. All my work focuses on following these synthetic, immediate concepts, elements that can be used in any job, be it display or design, so I can say that in addition to being very interested, I am a fan and definitely influenced by evolution in the world of graphics.