From island to island: Barber Osgerby in Filicudi

An exhibition space far from the usual paths of art opens up for the first time to contemporary design. In a reflection on the importance of knowing how to build things

From Island to Island – Barber Osgerby @ Studio Casoli, Filicudi
From Island to Island – Barber Osgerby @ Studio Casoli, Filicudi

British designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby have landed in Filicudi, in the Aeolian Archipelago (Sicily). Not for a holiday but for a very special little exhibition, starting with the place that hosts it. It is Studio Casoli, the brainchild of Sergio Casoli, a prominent gallery owner who years ago on the island took over – initially in partnership with artist Maurizio Cattelan – a historic guesthouse and restaurant.

The desire to exhibit and pursue special projects, however, has not gone away, and so a small exhibition space was created last year, inaugurated with a posthumous exhibition dedicated to photographer Giovanni Gastel, which was followed by one by the artist Peter Doig.

Today is the turn of design, with From Island to Island (until 23 July). The islands of the title are obviously Filicudi and Great Britain: “From the great British island to small Filicudi, the works of Barber Osgerby are independently placed in space”, Casoli explains. “Great practicality is combined with art – each piece is ‘Readymade’ and we celebrate its uniqueness.”

The exhibition is a kind of archipelago of techniques: “The exhibition demonstrates our obsession with how things are made. It spans almost every type of construction we’ve worked with, from glassblowing and weaving to machining metal”, says Edward Barber.

An ongoing investigation that becomes a learning process, a refinement of design language: “Seeing makers at work has been fundamental to our design education», says jay Osgerby. “The more you learn how they operate, and the more they understand how you work, the better each piece you produce is going to be. It’s a dialogue.”
On display are designs for many companies (B&B Italia, Marsotto, Established & Sons, Vitra and others) and a tapestry made for this occasion with weaver Laura de Cesare.