Super Mario

Tuesday 31 Aug 2010

Italian lighting designer Mario Nanni glows at la Biennale di Venezia

How powerful is the relationship between light and architecture? Italian lighting maestro Mario Nanni explains that for him ‘light is architectural space’ - a statement that will be put to the test La Biennale di Venezia over the coming months as Nanni has been awarded the princely title of Lighting Designer for the host pavilion at the 12th International Architectural Exhibition.

For the purposes of the Biennale, the Italian has created three specific lighting fixtures:

Bacchetta Light - a light fitted in UV-ray resistant transparent polycarbonate is equipped with LEDs to three different colour temperatures, supplying rhythm to the space and acting as a graphic sign suspended from the ceiling which points out the elements of the exhibition.

Profilo - a system which integrates with architecture, defining space, volume and surface. This fixture wires all light and is used to highlight the architectural edges of the space and define the architecture through the shadows.

C2 Profilo - a modular system used to create an architectural and narrative light signal, guiding the visitor to the object exhibit which tells the story of the Biennale’s past.

To find out more about the man behind the bulbs, WAN asked Mario Nanni a few probing questions...

Nanni’s climb to fame has not been an easy one. After being inspired by his grandfather at an early age, the young boy from Bizzuno began a lifetime love affair with the essence of light, constantly inspired by everyday features of his working-class childhood. The blank pages of his first school notebook have been reimagined in an interactive installation where a series of blank books spring to life as visitors fondle the pages and vintage-style tomes projected onto the facade of la scala theatre in a fervent expression of enlightened curiosity.

Following an early career as an electrician, Nanni began to indulge his true artistic passion on a freelance basis, eventually founding his own company – Viabizzuno – in 1994. Whilst he has embarked on many a minor venture, Nanni’s true release appears to come through large-scale exhibits such as luce e voce or light and voice - an open-air performance merging the artistic lighting of Mario Nanni and the powerful vocals of John de Leo. On a serene July evening two years ago, over a thousand individuals congregated at Piazza Francesco Baracca in Lugo to experience this affecting collaboration, every light sequence designed to merge with a specific accompanying sound.

Over the past decades, the Italian has been lucky enough to snare work with esteemed architects Peter Zumthor, Kengo Kuma and Joan Sibina, adding substance to his claims that light and architecture are interlinked. In a recent interview with FX Magazine, Nanni explained: “One has to understand how to use structure, materials and forms to place light sources correctly, to utilise light in a way that the final result transmits the uniqueness of the project, the integrity and formal purity.” The jury’s still out on this one, but make up your own mind by experiencing Nanni’s work first hand in the Italian Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia, 29th August-21st November 2010.

Sian Disson
News Editor

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