No other country is as closely associated with quality design as Italy, where a different kind of design culture emerged based on the creative collaboration of visionary entrepreneurs and innovative designers in the second half of the 20th century. A range of Italian magazines focusing on interior design came on to the market with multilingual editions too, and they had a crucial influence on Italian design's image internationally. The collaborative work of Aldo Ballo and Marirosa Toscani Ballo from 1953 through 1994 coincided with the highpoint of local design. From the outset, they were the two photographers most in demand when it came to photographing objects for magazine covers, advertising campaigns and editorial articles.
With curatorial design by Mathias Schwartz-Clauss, in collaboration with Marirosa Toscani Ballo, FAAP's Museum of Brazilian Art and Vitra Design Museum will be presenting the exhibition Zoom. Italian Design and the Photography of Aldo and Marirosa Ballo, showing this new view of Italian design and its history, opening May 20.
The exhibition's 300 or so photographs selected from more than 145,000 in the archives of Aldo and Marirosa Ballo, are shown together with numerous original publications (books, magazines and posters), Italian film clips and a documented study of the most important exhibitions on the subject, which comprise a fascinating panorama of this grand epoch in the history of Italian design. It also presents a selection of 75 objects from the Vitra Design Museum collection, including artifacts such as Archizoom's 1968 seating landscape 'Safari', and classics such as Mario Bellini's 1970 Totem stereo system. Almost all the major designers of the period are covered – from Albini, Aulenti, Bellini and Castiglioni through Colombo, Mendini, Pesce and Ponti, to Sarfatti, Sottsass, and Superstudio.
In addition to classic and legendary designs from the period, Zoom shows the intense dialogue between objects, media and marketing that initially facilitated widespread outreach for these designs.
After its presentation at Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, Zoom went on tour internationally. For the first time in Brazil, visitors to the exhibition at FAAP's Museum of Brazilian Art may take a stroll through the history of an epoch that reveals subtle details of creative processes, the power of innovation, and the poetics of its objects.
Vitra Design Museum is internationally recognized as one of the institutions that has contributed most to research on design and its broadly based dissemination.
Aldo e Marirosa Ballo
Aldo Ballo and Marirosa Toscani met as students at Milan's Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in the late 1940s. Born in Milan in 1931, the daughter of renowned photojournalist Fedele Toscani, Marirosa was studying fine arts; Aldo, born in 1928 in the Sicilian town of Sciacca, was an architecture student. In 1949, Marirosa's father was involved in an accident and she left the Accademia to take his place at Rotofoto, his photographic agency, returning to conclude her studies later. Meanwhile, her boyfriend Aldo, who was still on the architecture program, acquired a passion for photojournalism and started working for Rotofoto.
Intending to reposition his work in a cultural and artistic context, Aldo and Marirosa opened their first photographic studio in January 1953 at an apartment shared with friends: a graphic designer and a painter, on Via Setembrini. After their marriage in December 1953, the Ballos moved to a place of their own on Via Santa Croce - once again used for multiple functions, as residence, studio and exhibition space. Among their first major customers were Pirelli, the Eni energy conglomerate, and the La Rinascente chain stores. Soon they got commissions for new design and architecture periodicals, such as Abitare and Arianna - often through their connections with designer and architect friends. When the studio outgrew its capacity in 1957, the Ballos moved it to larger premises on Via Tristano Calco.
Italian design built its fame over the next three decades and Studio Ballo becomes the epicenter of this scene. It was where designers such as Joe Colombo, Vico Magistretti, Enzo Mari and Ettore Sottsass met art directors from leading newspapers and where graphic designers such as Bob Noorda or Massimo Vignelli met Italy's leading manufacturers - from Alessi to Zanotta. The studio was enlarged again in 1970 by the addition of a two-story building nearby. At some points, the Ballos were employing more than thirty people, including aspiring photographers whom they trained for a minimum period of five years.
The characteristic precision of the Ballos' work is also reflected in the meticulous composition of their archive; each photo taken was consecutively numbered and carefully conserved. Today, the collection consists of more than 145,000 photographs.
After Aldo Ballo's death in October 1994, the studio was dismantled. Marirosa Toscani Ballo is still continuing her work as a photographer. The oeuvre she created with Aldo Ballo from 1953 through 1994 - which can be found in several important Italian design publications - was the subject of a 2009 retrospective at the Milan Furniture Fair's Contemporary Art Pavilion.
Period: From May 20 to July 15, 2012.
Hours: Tuesday to Friday from 10h to 20h.
Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 13h to 17h.
(Closed on Mondays, even when holiday)
Location: Brazilian Art Museum (BAM-FAAP) - Cultural Hall
Address: Rua Alagoas, 903 - Higienópolis
Scheduling educational visits: (11) 3662.7200
Phone: (11) 3662-7198
Admission is free.
How to get there.