Light into the Black

The mastery of Venini and the creative flair of Peter Marino combine in the new Black Belt Lamp presented during Design Week in Milan. In the brand’s showroom on Via Montenapoleone, we met with the architect, surrounded by the magic of authentic masterpieces made in Murano.

Making your own creative imprint while interpreting the heritage of one of the brand-symbols of Italian culture is a real challenge. One that Peter Marino has faced with the confidence, elegance and eclecticism he puts into every project. The collaboration began with the Black Belt vases, now joined by lamps with the same name, illuminating objects in which the art of glass is the true protagonist.

Wrapped in black bands, a transposition of the black leather straps that are a constant accessory of his look – “I wear them everywhere,” he says – the vases and lamps are immersed in delicate hues. Blown in one of Murano’s oldest glassworks, the creations of Peter Marino thus become an interpretation of the history of Venini and the know-how of outstanding names of Italian culture like Fulvio Bianconi, Tobia Scarpa, Gae Aulenti, Ettore Sottsass, Alessandro Mendini

Black Belt by Peter Marino, Venini
Black Belt by Peter Marino, Venini
Black Belt by Peter Marino, Venini
Black Belt by Peter Marino, Venini

The refined style of Peter Marino can be seen in haute couture flagship stores like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Bulgari, Chanel; in five-star hotels and fine restaurants, including the new The 13 in Macau, and in works of architecture that redefined the concept of contemporary luxury living, like The Getty facing the High Line in Manhattan. An idea of beauty Peter Marino has shifted into the sculptural forms of the Black Belt Lamps, interpreting the prowess of the brand founded by Paolo Venini in 1921 (controlled since 2016 by the Damiani family) with signs that trace through past and present, shaped by skilled hands. Architect and collector Peter Marino explains his approach, in a conversation that reveals a passion for architecture, design, art, craftsmanship and beauty.

Silvia Damiani, vice presidente del gruppo Damiani proprietario di Venini, Peter Marino @ Marco Pionato
Silvia Damiani, vice president Damiani Group, Peter Marino @ Marco Pionato

What was the inspiration behind your design of the Black Belt collection for Venini?
My vision involves wrapping objects in black belts, which I wear wherever I go. At first I thought about vases: I like to create on tables, even 20 meters long, with a ‘floral’ dynamism, putting flowers in different heights, immersed in a clean design, wrapped in a black belt. When I went to Murano, to the glassworks where we were creating the Black Belt vases, I talked with the artisans who blow the glass, showing them that the black belts should be very strong, very intense.

How did the idea arise of expanding the collection to include the Black Belt lamps?
This was mostly the result of a necessity connected with my job as an architect: in my projects lighting design is a fundamental factor. So I asked Silvia (Damiani, ed) to create these lamps. We are just at the beginning, but soon the Black Belt line of lamps will be available in multiple forms: circles, cylinders, trapezia will make an excellent collection. You’ll see!

And the chromatic options?
In Murano we made an incredible number of ‘samples’ and then decided to limit the range to two tones: the crystal color (chartreuse), which fascinates me particularly because it gives the lamp an ‘aggressive’ character; and a pale pink (tea), which is very elegant and delicate, and is a favorite color of my girls: my wife and daughter. A tone that grants lightness…

How have you been able to combine the heritage of Venini with your contemporary imaginary?
Venini has always been a contemporary brand because it has always worked with the protagonists of architecture and design, with their modern vision of projects. I am very proud to be part of this ‘catalogue’ of excellence, which includes such an extraordinary list of the fines Italian architects and designers.

Peter Marino in fornace
Peter Marino

What is the most important feature of your project for Venini?
One of the fundamental factors of Venini is the fact that no vase or lamp is ever the same as the others. This idea jibes perfectly with my way of being, clearly the opposite of the concept of industrial design. Every artifact is unique, and for me this is something that eludes description: it is true art, there is nothing mechanical about it. It is pure art.

Art is a fundamental part of your life. Who is your favorite artist?
Cy Twombly: I feel very close to his artistic perception, influenced by the beauty of his lines and the energy emanating from his works. In particular, I love his Ferragosto series.

Black Belt Lamps
by Peter Marino for Venini