Renata Bonfanti: courage with colour

Designer: Enrico Azzimonti, Lorenzo Damiani, Delineodesign-Giampaolo Allocco, Paolo Ulian
Photos: Giustino Chemello
However, the artist takes her inspiration form Gropius and the avant-garde, and her rationalist nature has directed her reflections and choices, while faithfully conserving the centuries old technique. </br> Renata Bonfanti’s education began in the Venice Art Institute, from 1949 to 1951, with her teachers Giorgio Wenter Marini, architect like her father, and Anna Ackerdahl […]

However, the artist takes her inspiration form Gropius and the avant-garde, and her rationalist nature has directed her reflections and choices, while faithfully conserving the centuries old technique.

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Renata Bonfanti’s education began in the Venice Art Institute, from 1949 to 1951, with her teachers Giorgio Wenter Marini, architect like her father, and Anna Ackerdahl Balsamo Stella, Swedish designer and painter. Her relationship with her architect father, and her initial work with him led Renata Bonfanti to a different type of design from that taught at school, considering the function of the designed item and, above all, its relationship with architecture.

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During her most creative years, the 50s and 60s and mainly in Milan when Italian design was truly born, Renata Bonfanti received awards and recognition and took part in the most prestigious exhibitions. To name just a few: the Milan Triennial, the Venice Biennial, the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, the Fodor Museum in Amsterdam, the Pavillon de Marsan in Paris.

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In the late 50s and throughout the 60s, she became very interested in industrial design and her idea was conceived of the steel studio immersed in the green countryside on the border between Vicenza and Treviso, where she was able to experiment and research new types of textiles: counterpoise artificial fibres with wool, linen cotton, hemp, playing with the contrasts, the weaves and the colours.

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At that time she was also friends with other leading personalities, like Bruno Munari, Giò Ponti, Dino Gavina, Carlo Scarpa, Bruno Danese and Enzo Mari.

“The initial idea for the workshop came from a group of artists: Alessio Tasca, sculptor and potter, and Gigi Sabadin, furniture designer, and together we decided to open this group studio, but the project was not completed and just I remained” Renata Bonfanti explains. “It was inaugurated in 1970, and the structure was designed by Beppino Susani, architect from Marostica, and his project style was perfectly suited and still functional today”. A lightweight structure, large spaces created with steel girders more than 12 meters long, embossed metal walls, brown stone floors. “When weaving the environment is dangerous – Renata Bonfanti continues – the light must be well balanced and the acoustics must be perfect, in fact when the mechanical looms are working there is no rumbling in here, and the colours of the shell must not interfere with the fabrics, which is why steel was chosen as it perfectly satisfies these requirements”.

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The colour overwhelms the senses inside: wonderful tapestries, rugs, tablecloths, bobbins of wool, all transmit the feeling of warmth, love for her work and the material. “Young people today do not have courage with colour; they just use white, grey, and black. My chromatic experience has been developed over the years with a lot of research and design. Since the 70s I have increasingly dedicated more time to weaving tapestries, with my rugs becoming more decorated, richer in colour, becoming tapestries themselves which can be put on the floor or hung on the wall. I did not get this idea from painting but architecture. I have always considered weaving as an architectural element, and I cannot design a rug, tapestry or a fabric without imagining where they will be placed. Working in an interior with a colour sequence that alters and completes it, has always been at the height of my interest and attention”.

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A weaver is finishing a tapestry, designed by Renata Bonfanti, on a hand loom and it will be hung on the wall of a house facing the mountains: it depicts a sky with delicate shades of blue that gradually change to become almost pink, a landscape below with a thousand shades of green, lit by the natural light it becomes alive and takes form, and is much more than just a decorative element and becomes a sensorial experience.

Marzia Urettini
Acciaio Arte Architettura 54