Among the many designers showing at Italy’s Lake Como Design Festival this year, a notable number drew on totems – traditionally sacred spiritual objects – for their work.
Now in its fourth year, the annual design festival aims to establish a link between architecture, design and art in the region. This year’s theme of neo-nomadism resulted in an array of designs that reference the location’s rich design heritage and history in the form of totems.
“The journey has to start from what history has handed down to us, accompanied by a fundamental awareness of the importance of preserving what we have, while creating anew what has not been seen before and promoting it,” Butti said of the festival.
Read on for our selection of seven of the most exciting totemic designs:
Red Figure by Min Park
Seoul-based designer Min Park referenced Asian pagodas – tiered towers usually built to have a religious function – for Red Figure, a towering sculpture made from soil and paper pulp and finished in a deep-red glossy varnish.
Park based her design, which was on show within the neoclassical Villa Gallia as part of emerging design collective Movimento Club’s exhibition, on Korean stone pagodas where people gather to make wishes and stack stones on top of each other.
The Playful Rover by Christian Schüle
Inside the ornate Nobel Hall of the Casartelli Science Museum, designer Christian Schüle exhibited an array of sand-coloured sculptures called The Playful Rover.
Made to be stacked or playfully slotted into one another, Schüle’s tactile items combine pyramidal shapes with spheres in a nod to ancient architectural structures.
Metamorphosis by Rikki Peltola
Finnish artist and designer Rikki Peltola created Metamorphosis using what she referred to as a “meditative and organic” technique, hand-crotcheting delicate paper threads to create the textile, which stretches towards the sky similar to a totem pole.
The fabric was designed to echo how plants adapt to their surroundings by expanding their roots outwards in search of nutrients and water, particularly in extreme environments.
Tribu Vases by Verter Turroni for Imperfettolab
Shown as part of an exhibition curated by Galerie Philia, the totemic stone structures can also be used as vases. Each column is formed of a wide, rounded base and topped with different cylindrical shapes.
A Thrust by Scattered Disc Objects
Made entirely from marble, these two neutral-coloured sculptures are designed to look like primitive devices for storing or hiding valuable objects such as coins.
Design, technology research and architecture studio Scattered Disc Objects created several spare pieces of marble stone that can slot neatly into the gaps in the upper halves.
Fran Lamp by Llot Llov
Shown within the Movimento Club’s exhibition was a floor lamp with natural raffia fringing – also known as Japanese grass – that unfolds to cover 80 centimetres in diameter.
Produced by Berlin-based interior product brand Llot Llov, the natural fibres around the lamp help cast the light in a soft glow while also contributing to its organic shape and totemic feel.
Presenza by Agustina Bottoni
Each lightweight LED lamp, which is called Presenza, has a solid brass foundation finished with satin that has been moulded into unusual geometric totem-like shapes.
All images are courtesy of Lake Como Design Festival unless otherwise stated.
Lake Como Design Festival 2022 takes place from 17-25 September 2022. See the Dezeen Events Guide for information about the many other exhibitions, installations and talks taking place throughout the week.