IN THE MIX

Remixed Properties

East London-based artist Lorenzo Vitturi is a man of many talents: a painter, photographer, graphic designer, set designer and a former advertising creative, he first began to attract international attention as an artist in 2013 with the publication of Dalston Anatomy, a book that celebrated the life of a market in the heart of east London.

Known for remixing materials and cultural references into bold, colourful, site-specific installations and art works, Vitturi has established himself as a name to watch with a series of international exhibitions.

For the London Design Festival, Vitturi has teamed up with Established & Sons to create Remixed Properties, an exhibition that plays with products from the brand’s history, combining them with found materials from the artist’s studio to create something entirely new.

Here, EST Journal finds out more about the inspiration behind the exhibition, how the Venetian-born artist ended up in east London, and what drives him to create.

EST: You bring together so many different disciplines in your work. How would you define what you do?
VITTURI: This is difficult, but if I really have to define it, I would say I use a multidisciplinary process, a mix between sculpture, photography and performance, to explore changing realities and the complexity of transformation.
I also like to work with fragments. I mix products, objects and materials from completely different cultures. This multicultural aspect is part of my own story, being Italian and Peruvian and German as well. And the relationship between manmade and nature is important too, mixing materials that are organic and man made.

EST: You were born in Venice, how did you end up in east London making Dalston Anatomy, a book that celebrates the life of Ridley Road Market?
VITTURI: I left Venice when I was 19 years old and moved to Rome, where I studied photography and graphic design at the European Institute of Design (IDD). Then I became interested in the cinema industry, so I got a job and learned about production and set design. That’s how the cinema industry works – you need to start from the beginning as an assistant, so I starting as a beginner, as a set painter. This kind of experience in the industry was as important as design school – I learnt a lot about how things work.
After four years in the cinema industry, I moved to Milan and worked for seven years in advertising, in post-production and digital construction. I managed to build my own niche, making print campaigns for different companies but always applying my set design and installation work. But the industry was changing, it became really fast and there was less quality. So I decided to focus on my art practice.

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I moved to London in 2007, almost ten years ago. I have always wanted to be in London and I arrived when I was 27 years old. It transformed my career. I built a little studio in my house in Dalston and there’s where I started. I didn’t have a precise idea of what I wanted to do, but I started to discover something interesting was happening in Dalston. I saw how it was being changed by this process of gentrification and I wanted to celebrate the multicultural aspect of the neighbourhood.
So I spent three years collecting materials and taking photographs around the neighbourhood. I think it was the first time I managed to apply my multidisciplinary process to a single theme. It’s a mix of sculpture, of photography, collage, and in a way also painting, because all the sets that you see in the book were made in my studio. So I mixed reality and fiction, working between the street and the studio, really close to Ridley Road market. The idea was to celebrate the diversity and this mix of different cultures that managed to find an equilibrium, to work together in a small environment in the neighbourhood and this was the main idea behind the project. My love for London and for Dalston was manifested in this book.
Of course, it has changed over the years. London is transforming, and I’m quite critical about how London is changing, but there’s still quite a strong attraction.

EST: Why did you decide to accept the invitation to collaborate with Established & Sons
VITTURI: I try to focus mainly on my art practice, but where there is a company or a client where I can see a connection and don’t have to compromise my way of working I’m glad to accept. It gives me new ideas.
I am an outsider, I am not part of the design world, so I was surprised to be asked to do this by Sebastian [Wrong, Established & Sons’ design director]. I found a connection in the use of colour, which is central to my practice – I saw how they had paid attention to materials and colour and combined these elements and I found the story of the brand interesting.
Sebastian studied sculpture at university and he has always looked to mix different worlds together. So there was another connection. He has collaborated with so many different artists and designers and this is what I like about Sebastian’s approach. I’m always really open to mixing my work or my practice with other environments and works.

EST: Can you tell us a little bit about the concept for the exhibition and why it’s called Remixed Properties?
VITTURI: I like to mix together things that don’t have any obvious connection to create a theme or sculpture that is made of hundreds of stories coming from different places. Usually at Established & Sons, you see single products, each with their own story and aesthetic, so I am taking fragments from the brand history and mixing them together to create a different story and offer a new perspective on the design. It will be quite interesting to see the result.

EST: How have you selected which products to work with?
VITTURI: Established & Sons gave me their whole catalogue to choose from, so we are going to use pieces ranging from the first to last collections, around 20 different products. I am going to use between one and five elements of each product, depending on the size. Some of the products will be mixed with the materials that I usually use in my studio, that I’ve been collecting over the last few years in east London, combining the work of Established & Sons with my practice, with my own work. It’s going to be a complete reinvention of the function of each product. It will be quite extreme, but it will also celebrate the materials, textures and colours of Established & Sons.
I work a lot with found objects usually, things I find on the street. So I’m following the same path, but instead I’m using the design products. The idea is to create an organic space so that the sculptures will be in dialogue with each other and with the space.
I think sometimes my installations can be quite dynamic, playful and full of energy because I don’t prepare perfectly, I build on location when I have all the materials in my hands. So I really want to maintain this dynamic way of working. It’s really organic. There will be things that will be invented entirely on location to keep the same energy of making that I have in my studio.