Lonely Planet Writer

Design.Ve fringe festival gets underway with a walking tour through Venice

A city of marble palaces built on a mosquito-infested marsh – Venice is one of the most designed environments in the world. So the launch of a new Design.Ve fringe festival (until 26 June 2016), to run in conjunction with the annual, international Biennale, makes perfect sense.

Wood Obsession - one of the stops on the VE.Design tour
Wood Obsession – one of the stops on the VE.Design tour Image by Cristina Galliena Bohman

Conceived of by experienced curators, Francesca Giubilei and Luca Berta, the event has been developed as a walk through Venice, starting at the Institute of Science, Letters & Art at Palazzo Loredan.

Gllass master Simone Crestani console table
Glass master Simone Crestani console table

‘Design, art and architecture are different faces of the same world,’ explains Francesca, ‘so it made sense to exhibit the pieces in different environments and venues around the city. That way visitors get to explore the ideas and the city’s unknown corners at the same time’.

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Studio Mameluca. Image by: Cristina Galliena Bohman

Concentrated in two main areas – around the Accademia and Zattere and in Castello near the Biennale venues of Giardini and Arsenale – in eleven different locations, this inaugural edition features the work of nearly 80 designers. It’s an interesting mix, including both big name brands like Ron Arad and Antonio Citterio and emerging artist-designers such as Siba Sahabi, the creator of incredible felt-work carafes, and glass master Simone Crestani whose console table appears to float on a stream of the lightest glass bubbles.

Wood Obsession by Cristina Galliena Bohman
Wood Obsession by Cristina Galliena Bohman

In a city of artisan craftsmen – from glass masters to textile weavers, paper marblers and master carpenters – the festival has found a comfortable context.

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Wood Obsession. Image by: Cristina Galliena Bohman

Take, for example, the superbly built Iroko bike by CarrerBikes, completely handmade from iroko hardwood using cabinetry techniques traditionally applied in the boat sector. As Francesca points out, ‘Venice is a city of designers, but design has never been presented here in the right way. We hope to change that with Design.Ve and we think that people who travel here for the art and architecture in the Biennale will enjoy discovering these beautiful, functional objects’.