When you look at the work of the Italian architect Vincenzo De Cotiis, its very materiality is what strikes you without you even necessarily consciously knowing it. Yes, you have the unique shapes and the unexpected material combinations that jolt you in that I-didn’t-know-you-could-do-that way. But texture is what’s at the center of De Cotiis’s work, first and foremost. The objects he makes invites you to touch it, and not to be precious about it either, the frightening price tags of his objects notwithstanding. You’d hate to see them end up in a museum, unused. The more plastic and digital our world gets, the more the textures of De Cotiis’s pieces stand apart. So it is with his new series of work, called Éternel, now on display at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in New York.
De Cotiis’s work has always been about the material at hand and the hand that shapes the material. I’ve been following his work for decades and no matter which medium he would choose – outfitting entire hotels (I always try to stay at the Straf in Milan), making clothes (virtually no one remembers his short but brilliant foray into fashion with his label HAUTE), or building objects. It’s also about knowing when to stop, leaving enough of the original material untouched because nature and time have done their job perfectly well.
It is no coincidence, then, that for Éternel De Cotiis was inspired by the traditional architecture and Zen gardens of Japan. But you won’t find any cherrywood joints here – the inspiration is purely abstract. Instead, there are chairs and tables in iridescent cast aluminum that changes color depending on the viewing angle, and lamps in hand-blown Murano glass. Salvaged fiberglass – De Cotiis’s favorite ignoble material that becomes noble in his hands – is also featured throughout.
Of the sixteen pieces on display – De Cotiis works on every one of them himself from start to finish – the pièce de résistance is the iridescent aluminum table with three brass legs. It’s an absolute, hypnotic stunner that demands your attention. Come to think of it, that is the highest compliment any object can get in our distracted world.
P.S. Do not leave the exhibit without picking up a copy of the sold out catalogue of De Cotiis work published by Carpenters and Rizzoli. It’s worth its weight in iridescent aluminum.
(Read our interview with Vincenzo De Cotiis here)
Vincenzo De Cotiis: Éternel at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in New York through September 15th, 2021. By appointment only.
All images courtesy of the gallery.