Among the projects presented by Pedrali for 2023, there is a fascinating table, Anemos: a round or oval top resting on a sculptural cement base with a light appearance, made of two slightly curved sheets. It is a creation of Pio (1973) & Tito (1971) Toso, Venetian brothers whose research stems from extremely refined reflections on form, function and material. We met them for a conversation about this new piece.
Anemos, “wind” in Greek: was that the starting point?
Pio Toso: The idea of making a cement base comes from one of our research projects. We thought it would be interesting to use this material in a light way, exploiting its compressive strength. These two arches that cross in the base distribute the load properly, so the base functions very well.
Tito Toso: We also suggested cement for the top, in the same finish: the project arises from this material, which is water and sand, inert, liquid at first. It was important to convey this perception. This is why it has a fluid shape, which is in the DNA of the material. We were thinking about the studies of Pier Luigi Nervi, a brilliant architect-engineer, one of the first to think of concrete not as a pillar or a beam, but as a membrane, a shell.
Was it difficult to obtain such perfect forms for the base and the top?
Tito: There are no specific measures involved, it works through pouring.
Pio: Today there are additives that control shrinkage all the movements in the drying phase. Furthermore, unlike ceramic, cement requires no firing, a phase that often “moves” the material. So it is possible to have exceptional linear results combined with a very natural materiality.
Tito: We should emphasize that it is a cold process, so it is very sustainable in terms of energy. We are interested in this sort of consideration when we think about new products.
Is it only cement, or is there something more?
Tito: It is a particular mixture, an alchemy that also stems from personal research. The challenge was the thickness – we wanted it to be thin, like a sail moved by the wind. We achieved this by working closely with Pedrali.
Was the base developed “by hand” or using software?
Pio: Having studied architecture, we have a clear idea of stress distribution. It was quite instinctive. Then came all the work on the details, for example on how to conceal the bushing for the attachment of the top. For us, a table is always a small work of architecture that does not impose its presence, but blends with the space. It comes from a process of synthesis, reduction of the elements. This is our path: to reach the point of creating objects that speak a universal language, which everyone can understand.
Tito: A procedure of reduction that is not castration, but paradoxically becomes liberating, when you can manage to achieve it. It is not cold, flat minimalism, but the material that starts to speak for itself. It doesn’t even look designed: it has a natural movement, like seaweed moved by the current. This makes it feel like a familiar object, for everyone, not just people with a certain culture.
How does Anemos take part in your relationship with the company?
Pio: Like the other projects we have done for them, this too stems from a spontaneous gesture. We believe in this type of design. Not connected to a style, which can “come up short” over time, losing its authenticity.
Tito: It is the pursuit of synthesis that enables us to see the essence. We’re interested in the relationship between an object, its users, the space in which it is inserted. We want our projects to feel like friends.
Pio & Tito Toso
What generates truth in design?
Tito: A project that does not come from a style, a drawing, but from observation of everyday life: how people sit around a table, how they use that table. To try to understand what type of relationship is established with the user, how harmony can be created in space. A very human focus.
Pio: It is an attitude regarding the product, not connected to a fashion. There is no single approach, you can be ironic or serious, but if the way of designing is precise and profound then something good will probably emerge. Then you have to follow your own senses: for example, in a table it is important to pay close attention to the edges, which are the part in closest dialogue with the person. That is where you touch the object. In good design there is something that speaks directly to us, without necessarily passing through the brain.
Art direction Studio FM, Styling Studio Salaris, Photo © Andrea Garuti