There have been many points in my life when I have wished that I spoke another language properly – mostly to make travelling easier on the embarrassment stakes, but sometimes because by not understanding, you realise that you are missing out on something quite special. And so it was when we saw a press preview of the Ford lighting installation, Favilla (to every light a voice) at the Salone del Mobile this year, which was formed of two, interlinked experiences.
The exterior installation was special, with a ghostly model of the new Ford GT being brought alive by all manner of projections, renderings and effects – many of which are used within the design stages of car production, with a great soundtrack to match.
Running for a couple of minutes, the GT was mesmerising with its changing skins of colour and pattern.
But, it was the internal installation, based in the same, black box structure that really stole the show for us. ‘FAVILLA – to every light a voice’ showcased the science of light and was curated by architect Attillo Stocchi in collaboration with Ford, examining and highlighting the way light moves in an immersive experience.
Waiting outside, we heard small rumblings of the installation and were soon gathered into the space – 27 of us – each standing on a small, white, numbered spot on the floor.
Plunged into darkness, a beautifully deep Italian voice began the narration as sections of the geometric internal panels were lit in shades of white, changing into forest patterns – perfectly supported by a stunning musical score. Patterns changed to soft light, clouds to fire and spotlights to fragmented light through the crystal which hung silently in the centre of the space.
This was easily one of the most beautiful installations we had ever experienced, despite not understanding any of the narration, which is where the regret was felt. How much more powerful would the installation have been if we had understood? It was already incredibly moving, and after reading the English translation, perhaps even more so.
As architecture fanatics, the structure itself was also a real statement, with the solidness of the black box exterior contrasting hugely with the Milanese buildings around, but the interior was particularly successful. The geometric forms of the panels in the building enveloped you in light and projections – making you feel like you were standing in the centre of a gemstone. It was both enclosing and spacious – plus, the decision to only let 27 or so people in at any one time meant that you had room to look around you and experience the whole installation.
“A successful design requires more than pleasing aesthetics – it needs to connect with consumers, speak to their aspirations and pleasantly surprise them,” said Moray Callum, Ford’s Vice President of Design. “This installation takes visitors through an unexpected discovery process that perfectly reflects Ford’s philosophy that design is an emotional journey orchestrated around the customer.”
And this is exactly what the piece was. Truly beautiful and emotional- even when you don’t understand Italian…
See below for a behind the scenes view of FAVILLA…
(Photos by claire potter, video courtesy of Ford)