THE METAL LABORATORY METAL This laboratory is a little unusual as it does not represent a continuous and coherent research with a clear guiding theme, but it puts together a series of objects stemming from very diverse concepts. Even recently, in his latest projects, Michele De Lucchi has returned to metal, using it to change and to give a different sense to the vase bases of the collection “what are flower vases for?”. Almost all object from the metal laboratory emerge from domestic desires and needs and they have been designed with a very different approach to design. Michele De Lucchi would probably never have addressed the theme of candleholders alone. “Too much decoration, too romantic”. Against daily desperation and criticism because they never worked, he could not but think about how to improve them. To make changing the candles easier and above all to remove the used candles easily, he invented candleholders with the same spirit as the minimal machines considering therefore simple mechanisms which resolve these problems with the use of springs or counterweights. Varying the function of putting in and removing the candle, a series of very unusual candleholders was created whose forms are always determined by the same function. Looking at them one can tell how much Michele enjoyed himself with this approach, so special to such a sentimental theme. He was even persuaded to put on a theatrical play in 1991 in the city of Brema. He played the part of a philosophical artisan, seated behind a table which was placed in th centre of the stage, in total darkness except for a light upon him and his table. He was telling himself about the principal stages of his life and his work polishing strange pieces of metal, which he took from his pocket and assembled with great care little by little making them into a candle holder. At the end he took a candle from his pocket, lit it with a match and then in total silence he blew, extinguishing the flame, leaving everyone in complete darkness. The people of Brema were enthusiastic. This concept of separating the pieces and highlighting the care with which it was made was used once again for a presentation at the Triennale of Milan in 1992. All the candleholders were made of solid brass; some in silver finish and others were left natural. The effect of the metal, which changes colour as it is touched and used, is very beautiful. It seems that this hard material becomes suddenly timid and sensitive. All pieces are formed from a piece of solid metal and not cut from a sheet or pressed from a tube. This explains their extraordinary heaviness. Even the slender washers are of turned solid metal and have a form of varying section which is either basin or lens shaped. The jewellry box is almost the transposition of and object designed in wood but made in metal. Michele at this time was doing a lot of work in Japan, for exhibitions of designs and objects made of wood by Japanese artisans. One of the many forms developed for this exhibition was found in one of his paintings and seemed to possess a particular significance. It was not possible to bring this object to Italy or to reproduce it and so it was remade in brass and become a much loved jewellry box in her possession. It is a one off-piece turned on a lathe. “...this time when I first started to think about the Pluvia vase, we were as in many other times in the garden. We wanted a vase that was weather resistant and strong enough to make a contrast against the exuberant vegetation in the background and against the violent thunderstorms of the lake. It was the first time that I thought about making an object totally of cast iron: a material once much used outdoors which is making a certain comeback today. It made me think of garden furniture too, but I wanted them to be modern, not with an old characteristic. I saw only two strong forms and then I had the slightly mad idea of attaching the glass. I wanted an invisible base to give the sense of a heavy, strong, resistant body, which restd almost upon nothing, confronting the materiality of the cast-iron with the immateriality of the glass. I presented these vases for the first time at an exhibition of water colours in the monestary at Maulbronn in Germany and it was raining heavily that day…”. It was very difficult to find suitable craftsmen. Small craftsmen’s outlets are not willing to sustain the waste of defective pieces created in attempting to maintain the glass so slender in section. The big foundries on the other hand are unwilling to stop their machines and waste time for seven or eight vases. Notwithstanding the fact that a very precise mould was made, the emergent pieces differ one from the other and it is impossible to avoid waste. The piece is, relatively speaking, large and very deep and the cast-iron contracts a great deal when cooled thus the forms tend to lose their geometry.