INTERVIEW WITH ALANZO ALARCON
How did it all start? What is the Alanzo Alarcon back story?
Our group of designers--all of us young, but obsessed with museums and grand houses!-- wanted specifically to ally ourselves with a company in Brooklyn, which is where we all live and work. Brooklyn is a place which inspires and empowers us to design beautiful things.
How and why did you start designing textiles?
We all share a love of drawing, graphic design, and pattern. Cloth--fabric--is the natural medium with which to express this particular talent.
What is the design inspiration behind Alanzo Alarcon?
Alanzo Alarcon is all about Italy.
Italy’s artistic history is the inspiration for our textiles: from the rich complexity of the Renaissance to the sleek, pared-down aesthetic of present-day Italian design.Italian design — like the country’s history — is marked by a regionalism that breeds eclecticism and diversity.
How exactly do you translate your love of Italian art and design history into textiles?
Italy’s historic artistic life is expressed in the poetic patterns and quality of our fabrics.
We borrow from textiles as they appear in Italian life--the ornate clothing depicted in Renaissance portraits, for example--as well as the plainer solids, in jewel colors, of contemporary Italian fashion by designers such as Prada and Dolce & Gabbana.
Textiles in Italy have always been an expression of power, wealth and taste, because, from the Middle Ages onward, silks and velvets had to be laboriously handwoven, often using precious materials such as metallic threads of real silver or gold. The production of a costly fabric involved a host of highly skilled craftsmen: spinners, dyers, draughtsmen and weavers, all working in sophisticated coordination.The result, even to this day, is textile of very high quality, even when mass-produced; and often manufactured by family-based companies operating over generations.
Does Italy, which is made up of so many regions, have a unified “Italian style”?
That’s a difficult question.I would say no, but there are certain historical and regional trends we can identify. There is, of course, the archetypal terracotta-toned rusticTuscan villa complete with a vineyard we all wish we could have as a vacation home. Then again there is the almost icy chic of Milan appartamenti, all white marble, steel and leather, with, perhaps, an iconic swooping Achille Castiglioni floor lamp. And, interestingly, there is something uncluttered even about very grand villas and palaces.
What is the unique effect of Alanzo Alarcon textiles in the home?
Alanzo Alarcon wants its fabrics to imbue the home with echoes of Italy’s rich culture of palaces and museums, paintings and sculpture. Our textiles are often patterned, especially with intricate interlace figures--notably our Alessandro fabric-- resembling the symbols of wealth in 15th century Venice; inspired, too, by the early 20th century mysterious, misty fabrics created in Venice by Mariano Fortuny. In an Alanzo Alarcon fabric, you will find other ancient echoes: of the marvelous stripes of the Duomo in Siena, for example, or the geometric patterns in white and dark green marble, of the medieval churches of Florence.
Do you have any design muses?
Yes. All of us are in awe of the Italian architect, Gio Ponti (1891-1979) who in his long life not only built buildings, but founded the architecture and interior design magazine, Domus, as well as creating some of the 20th century’s most beautiful and innovative furniture, textiles and even glass and ceramics.
We are all attuned to the symbiosis of architecture and decoration in the home, and Indigo2ash’s selection of sleek Mid-Century Modern furniture is often reminiscent of the clean lines of Ponti’s designs. Ponti was, on the other hand, a most versatile designer, infusing his work with a certain romanticism and whimsy as well as architectural purity.
What is Alanzo Alarcon’s relationship, if any, to Minimalism?
Minimalism is definitely part of Alanzo’s design vocabulary, because in Italy, especially in 1960s and ‘70s Milan, we saw very spare, clean-lined apartments. Yet Italy does Minimalism with a certain irrepressible joyfulness, as in the colorful interiors of Ettore Sottsass (leader of the famous Post-Modern Memphis group), or Gaetano Pesce, for example.
So how would you characterize this joyousness?
Italians follow an impulse towards vivacity and celebration, of birds and arabesques. We have included a woven floral in our collection, a very subtle tone-on-tone pattern called Carlile Flower.
Do you get involved with purchaser’s interior design plans and aspirations?
Once one has completed these steps successfully, finding the right case furniture, coffee tables and accents such as ceramics and artwork will happen naturally. The most important lesson in decorating is to begin with a harmonious array of textiles, then wall colors.
Does decorating have a spiritual as well as practical purpose?
Yes. Your house or apartment is like a second skin which has to fit you flawlessly. It has two primary functions: the first is to shelter you, the second is to provide you with space to express yourself visually. Some of the earliest dwellings were mere tents, of woven fabric; then came buildings, often hung with fabric inside for both warmth and decoration. So art and design have been an intrinsic part of dwelling from the beginning. Decoration is ancient, and it is necessary for our well being.
Starting with quality textiles, continuing with a good sofa and interesting chairs, finally accessorizing a space: this is the simple formula for creating a home that aspires to beauty as well as shelter.
Artfully mixed and matched, Indigo2ash’s wide selection of rugs, drapes and pillows are available in thirty subtle shades and myriad textures and patterns. At Indigo2ash, home is not only a place, but an experience, the setting most central to our families, friendships and visual adventures. Sign up to receive our newsletter with special offers!