A.I. [Artisanal Intelligence] GRAND TOUR: Rome as a key stopover of a journey destined to build the identity of contemporary artists and designers. A conversation with curator Clara Tosi Pamphili

By Barbara Laneve

Mariasole Ferragamo.

Altaroma is definitely living its renaissance and Artisanal Intelligence is one of the unmissable events if you’re in Rome from the 8th to 11st of July. Curated by Clara Tosi Pamphili and Alessio de Navasques, it takes place in the quirky and vibrant location known as“Ex Dogana”; this edition is dedicated to GRAND TOUR. Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of J.W. Goethe’s ‘Italian Journey’, A.I. Grand Tour launches the idea of the immortality of the power of travel and tours of Rome.

Starting from the 17th century, what was defined as an unrepeatable experience to reinforce the old preconceptions and prejudices about national characteristics, culminated in Italy amidst the ruins of ancient Rome, Palladian villas or the excavations of Pompei.


Traces of the appeal of the tour are still apparent in works by artists who never returned home including H.C. Andersen whose collection of sculptures was so large that it could have filled the spaces of a marvelous small Roman museum, literary documents written by Goethe, Baron de Montesquieu and Charles Dickens, films such as ‘Journey to Italy’ by Roberto Rossellini or ‘Room with a View’ by James Ivory right up to ‘The Belly of an Architect’ by Peter Greenway. Rather than a meeting with people of other cultures, the Grand Tour is the exploration of a place or of ourselves, it is the romantic search for experiences dictated by other memories, other forms architecture and other monuments: a personal quest that involves finding the courage to look beyond, aided by beauty. Based on these concepts, A.I. Grand Tour presents the creations of several designers and artists inspired by travel (Like a symbolic centre, heritage, the deepest of all roots, is represented at this July edition by the last artists /artisans who still make micro mosaic: historic and contemporary works, small pieces of jewelry that represent the first form of the visualization of the image of a memory, the first ‘screen’ where micro tesserae represent the origin of today’s contemporary pixels.

The designers chosen express all the characteristics of research, the result of their identity as the researchers and explorers of other worlds empowered by the study of tradition. Subjects like ‘Romantic Chemistry’ or the re-visitation of the luxury of 19th century headgear crafted by young milliners,elements of Hungarian cultures inspired by Cosmatesque flooring and elegant shoes that describe the complex creativity of a sophisticated traveler. The envolved designers are Boglàrka, Celeste Pisenti and Stefano Russo, Cesare Gatti, Gergei Herdei, Haetts, Manfredi Manara and Mariasole Ferragamo. The dream-like vision of the concept of an element that composes everything, of a tile cut like the archetype of a pixel is created by Livia Cannella who, for years, has worked with screen projections as a form of storytelling, projecting images at sites of archaeological and cultural interest, like museums, in what she defines as Scenes of Light. One of this year’s highlights will include an installation referencing travel by Ophelia Finke, the artist defined by the Art Catlin guide in 2014 as one of the most talented young British designers of the moment.


Finke has already made a name for herself in the world of fashion following her collaboration with McQ Alexander McQueen for the brand’s SS 2015 campaign. The unique phenomenon of the Roman fashion, between couture and cinema, is expressed by a personal dress and a costume designed by Fernanda Gattinoni for a diva like Ingrid Bergman. The costumes for “Europa 51″ by Roberto Rossellini who even shoot with her “Journey to Italy” and a coat to describe a relationship between the diva and Madame Fernanda who in 1951 leads to the cover the brand in the United States.

Celeste Pisenti e Stefano Russo

BarbaraLanever: Where did the idea for Artisanal Intelligence come from and what changed since its first edition?

Clara Tosi Pamphili: Artisanal Intelligence started when I took part in the previous CDA of Altaroma. The president was Silvia Fendi and together we shared the idea to give an authentic identity to the Made in Italy from Rome. My architectural studies, as a specialist in applied arts, and my teaching experience helped the creation of a choral project that involves heritage, contemporary arts and cinema as sources of inspiration for fashion and costume. The project was conceived by Alessio de Navasques and since then has been a relevant platform for both Italian and international creativity, where the modus operandi is based on traditional craftsmanship, with an eye to the future, with solid historical and cultural basis. Since its first edition, A.I. could count on amazing locations and high level of actors, artists and designers, presenting Rome like the creative hub free of marketing and financial limitations.

Gergei Erdei

B.L: Thanks to Altaroma, Rome is becoming more and more the right place in Italy where to discover new talents: what do new designers currently need to come to light?

T.P. New designers need the right visibility, to show their work in places where quality and continuity are guaranteed. They don’t have to be treated like “subscribers”, and to be considered just numbers in situations where the quantity is the only thing that matters in terms of sales. What they need is to be able to present their own style and to find the right scenario that can represent them the most, to promote their products in the best possible way.

Theodora Bak.

B.L:  Fashion is the expression of an historical period and it is intrinsically linked to its cultural contest: what does it take to define a collection “contemporary” nowadays?

T.P. Defining contemporaneity has never been as difficult as today: being transgressive doesn’t suffice; the most important thing is to have a solid groundwork based on knowledge and culture. There is not just one trend, but lots of trends, hence the winner is the one who can tell old stories in a new innovative way. Let’s think about, for example, transforming raw ingredients in modern exiting recipes. Contemporaneity has to express, first of all, our times using technology and following the present culture. I feel that the word “craftsmanship” should be the key, however it doesn’t feel contemporary anymore.


Manfredi Manara

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