We Can’t Get Enough of the Seussian Furniture Coming Out of Francesco Decio’s Living Room
If Dr. Seuss made clay furniture, it’d look like a bit like the bumpy, brick-colored creations of Decio Studio. Their wildly imaginative forms make it difficult to call them by what they technically are —lamps, water fountains, coffee tables, bookshelves, or mirrors — so creative director Francesco Decio typically opts for “functional art.” “I love both the more rational design part and the crazy artistic side of it,” he says. “I try to keep in mind the use I want to give to the piece and then go abstract from there.” The Italian designer describes his resulting style as sci-fi and surreal.
Decio wants the shapes to be simultaneously strange and familiar. To achieve this he draws on influences that zigzag space and time, high brow and low: the Roman arch, an elaborate cat tree, a kids’ marble run, balancing rock towers, space equipment, and aliens. “To me they always looked like they could come to life at any moment,” he says.
He first experiments with the structures using chicken wire and plastic tubes to create the shapes, adding details with papier-mâché. He finishes a piece with a layer of hand-squelched clay. It’s the synthetic clay he played with in kindergarten and never forgot about. The clay comes in different colors but Decio was most attracted to the deep rust color. “I chose it because it looked like ancient terracotta that was left there for 1000 years but somehow worked well with the out-of-time shapes I was doing,” he says.
The red clay collection began as an experiment with one small structure to see if it would stand. “It worked so I made 30 more!” Decio says. Some start with a distinct shape in mind, others are built organically, from smaller pieces that are assembled together to make bigger and bigger shapes. Without a studio yet, the wonderfully odd collection came together in Decio’s living room and kitchen over 8-9 months. “We were around each other for a long time,” he says of his friendly weirdos.
The work to make them is physically demanding but Decio is not scared to get his hands dirty; in fact he loves it. “There’s something ancestral in giving shape to something,” he says, “it makes you feel very connected to it and, in a way, a part of you gets stuck in them.”