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Duyi Han creates retro renderings of Italian design objects for virtual exhibition

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Blow armchair in Duyi Han's series

Artist and designer Duyi Han has produced a series of renderings featuring objects by 41 seminal Italian designers such as Ettore Sottsass and Enzo Mari displayed in 3D environments borrowed from popular culture.

Han’s project is for a virtual exhibition at Brooklyn’s Superhouse gallery in New York, called Different Tendencies: Italian Design 1960 – 1980.

Ettore Sottsass' 1979 Svincolo floor lamps and Silent Circle's 1986 album No1
Top: a video compiling Han’s renderings. Above: Ettore Sottsass’ 1979 Svincolo floor lamps

The set of individual renderings have been compiled into a video with effects and music to evoke the ambience of the 60s and 70s.

Although the exhibition is online largely due to the coronavirus pandemic, the designs displayed in Han‘s renderings are for sale as physical objects upon request.

The project is renderings by Duyi Han
Wright-Wright, a 1972 chair by Nanda Vigo rendered against a backdrop referencing Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey

Han’s nostalgically grainy renderings insert virtual versions of various designs from the Italian Radical period into scenes informed by a range of recognisable popular culture references from the same era such as old films and album covers.

A rendering of Archizoom Associati’s 1968 Sanremo floor lamp rides a yellow escalator, a reference to English rock band Black Sabbath’s Technical Ecstasy album cover from 10 years later.

Duyi Han designed the project for Brooklyn's Superhouse gallery
Archizoom Associati’s 1968 Sanremo floor lamp

Archizoom Associati was a Florentine design studio that played a key role in the Italian Radical period, an era Han described as “raw, intense and wildly optimistic”.

“Virtual renderings are a good format in which to bring things from different years and different places together,” Han told Dezeen.

A sculptural coatrack from 1972 against a scene informed by the film Solaris
Guido Drocco and Franco Mello’s 1972 Cactus coatrack

While some of Han’s virtual scenes contain references separated by several years or more, other renderings combine design objects with virtual backdrops from same year.

A rendering of Guido Drocco and Franco Mello’s Cactus, a sculptural coatrack from 1972, is displayed in a scene referencing Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 science fiction film Solaris.

When curating his digital scenes, Han said that his design process was led by how the objects looked in relation to their varied backdrops rather than matching dates.

“I wanted to show that different works from different artists and designers belong to similar strands of historic evolution, across disciplines and geographies,” he explained.

Duyi Han is a creative director based in Brooklyn
Lapo Binazzi’s 1969 Paramount table lamp

Other renderings include designer Lapo Binazzi’s 1969 table lamp named Paramount, which is positioned against an explosive visual ode to musician Stevie Wonder’s 1976 Songs in the Key of Life album cover.

As well as films and album covers, Han also appropriated scenes from famous artworks and past design exhibitions in his renderings.

Duyi Han made the renderings
UP 2 by designer Gaetano Pesce

UP 2 is a plump red armchair by Gaetano Pesce from 1969. Multiple versions of it are arranged in a formation similar to feminist artist Judy Chicago’s 1979 installation The Dinner Party.

Cuffia, a 1969 floor lamp by Francesco Buzzi is rendered peering over a poolside which takes cues from artist David Hockney’s painting entitled Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) from 1972.

A floor lamp named Cuffia
Cuffia rendered in a setting similar to a 1972 David Hockney painting

Blow, the 1967 inflatable armchair by Paolo Lomazzi, Donato D’Urbino and Jonathan De Pas, also features, traversing through the same designers’ installation Pneu Tunnel, which was shown at the 1968 Milan Triennale.

Blow is an inflatable armchair rendered in this scene by Duyi Han
Blow, a famed inflatable armchair from 1967

While Han’s renderings are currently playful imitations of physical design objects, the designer acknowledged the growing demand for the acquisition of virtual objects.

NFT versions of the renderings might come soon,” he said, referring to a blockchain-based certificate of authenticity which can be assigned to virtual artworks when they are bought.

Duyi Han designed the renderings for the virtual exhibition
A cluster of Ettore Sottsass’ 1968 Asteroid floor lamps on a backdrop informed by Led Zepplin’s 1973 Houses of the Holy album cover designed by Hipgnosis

Duyi Han is a Brooklyn-based designer. He recently created a concrete bench with Thomas Musca that is informed by brutalist architecture.

Existing NFT designs include Instagram-famous videos of dreamscapes by Alexis Christodoulou, and a jpeg file of a collage by American artist Beeple which has sold for over $69 million at an auction.

Renderings and video are courtesy of Duyi Han.

Different Tendencies: Italian Design 1960 – 1980 will run from 15 March – 1 May. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.


Project credits:

Film and creative direction: Duyi Han
Project assistant: 
Judy Lang Dong
Music: City Shades by Andreas Boldt

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