The girls of Camp Design Gallery

The odds of fate: Beatrice Bianco, 32 years old, and Valentina Lucio, 33, met for the first time in 2012 at Design Miami, where they had neighboring stands. Due to a series of circumstances they found themselves working together in the gallery circuit, exploring various contexts both abroad and in Italy. A fruitful experience which, after both quitting their jobs, found them agreeing on one point: they should open their own gallery dedicated to contemporary design. So they founded Camp Design Gallery. Specialized in art-design, it's aim is to investigate material culture, renewing the concept of design and production. About a year after its inauguration, the two young gallery owners are now picking the fruits of months of intense labor.

What characterizes the Camp Design Gallery project? We wanted to further develop our idea of design in contemporary collections. Our gallery produces and displays one-off pieces and limited editions made by the most innovative international designers, artists and architects. Camp goes beyond the traditional borders separating art and design, to showcase unique, exclusive and unusual works of design that can be collectible, but also used in the daily context of home. 

Looking back at the artists with whom you collaborated, which are you most proud of? We're extremely proud of all the projects we commissioned to Analogia Project, David Lindberg, Paolo Spalluto and Veronica Todisco. Each was created exclusively for Camp.

What does the work entail? The gallery follows each project alongside the designer, from the research phase up to production. We adhere to guidelines that allow us to elaborate the connection between two fundamental aspects of design: functionality and aesthetics/creativity. The high quality of each piece's manufacture, which often relies on a collaboration with the best Italian craftsmen, makes each piece a unique work behind which there's always a story, an idea, an amount of research to speak of. 

If you could live the life of another creative for a day, who would you choose?
Valentina: I'd choose Job Smeets of Studio Job, so as to experience his fascinating creative process in first person. Smeets and Tynagel have been defined "pioneers of contemporary culture": they have the merit of revolutionizing the preconceived notion that art and design are two separate entities.
Beatrice: I choose Keith Haring. He was definitely one of the great communicators of the past century.

What are the positive and negative aspects of this job? The thrilling aspect is the continuous exchange of ideas that occurs during the creation of each project and the pleasant sensation of being part of a cultural movement that is evolving. The negative side: bureaucracy.

Have you noticed changes in the field of design in the course of the past few years? There's been increasing interest towards design, events connected to it have grown both in quantity and quality. There is now truly an abundance of fairs, Design Weeks and annual events throughout the world. What's missing is a clear design system and more constructive criticism by the experts: curators, reporters, critics. Designers have developed a stronger conscience in their artistic needs and this can be seen in their pieces.

Was there a turning point in your careers?​ When we both quit our jobs. That's the point at which we decided to make it on our own.

How does the scouting process take place? It's a mix of study and research that is constantly being updated. We study the reasons behind every creative process in depth, trying to translate it into a technical and experimental language.

What do you think of designers that try to be trendy? They risk not being able to focus on the quality of their research and work in an attempt to hide their deep insecurities.

Is there an exhibition you particularly enjoyed this year? "Doubt" by Carsten Hoeller at Hangar Bicocca.

What's a typical day of work like for you? The great thing about our activity is that no day is the same as another.

How would you define your gallery? An exceptional enterprise!

What is your biggest talent? Cohesion and constructive discussion: these elements are never missing.

Tell us about your most recent projects. We recently presented "Bestiary", the new project by Analogia Project, which was inspired by Romanesque architecture and realized in collaboration with outstanding Italian craftsmen, Alessio Sarri for the ceramic elements and Mariantonia Urru for the carpet. In the near future we'll be working on curatorial projects and collaborations with art foundations.

What are some of your favorite places? Villa I Bossi, a beautiful place immersed in the Tuscan countryside near Arezzo. Masseria Mattiani, in Salento, to get back in touch with what is essential. Local town fairs that make you feel like you're in a Fellini film.

How would you describe your homes?
Valentina: Mine is like a funfair, where each object has a story to tell, especially my collection of garden gnomes.
Beatrice: Mine is a refuge, where I can dedicate myself to plants and flowers.

Do you have a life motto? Go go go!

What designer do you wish you had been the first to discover? The Campana brothers: their projects are always avant-garde.

A backburner dream? We'd really like to collaborate on an exhibition with Carpenters Workshop Gallery.

Marzia Nicolini
Photos via Camp Design Gallery
Portrait by Lara Locatelli

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