Italian master Umberto Riva brings magical realism to a collection of hand-knotted rugs for Tacchini Edizioni.
Elder wisdom isn’t a phrase routinely associated with the prolific Italian painter, designer and architect Umberto Riva, but the magical realism of one of Italy’s design grandi maestri can help us navigate difficult times. Riva’s limited-edition rug collection for Tacchini Edizione is hand knotted in Nepal with Himalayan wool. Looking anew at his three rug designs creates an opportunity to reconsider the dreamer and his designs.
Riva’s three abstract geometric rugs are woven in a palette of pastels that dovetail with new millennium colour trends while subtly referencing 1980s Italian design. Narciso (2019), Nello Spazio (2018) and Rituale (2018) are all based on paintings by Riva. The rugs inspire meaningful contemplation of natural and mechanical worlds, and subliminally convey the life lessons of a design elder whose long, productive life (he still frequents his studio) includes eras of privation as well as wealth and recovery. Perhaps just the knowledge that Riva is not only a survivor but a ‘thriver’ is enough to spur us to re-evaluate our current circumstances to discover the positive.
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine Gallery Artistic Director, declared Riva’s paintings to be “clearly abstract compositions”. But are they? Perhaps they are Riva’s dreams of Pareidolia where faces or other identifiable patterns are revealed in seemingly random shapes. Is Nello Spazio a single blade propeller aircraft where a windscreen wiper scrapes a view for the pilot with wheels ready for take-off? Is Rituale a kaleidoscope view of a wide-eyed bird, while Narciso seems like a magnified view of a sleepy-eyed lizard? Take a cue from Riva and re-evaluate objects in your home to discover new patterns. Looking–truly looking–has always been key to understanding art and design and a way to create your own unique interpretations.
Tacchini’s rug collection with Riva was developed from his paintings, drawings and sketches. As with all Tacchini products, the idea forefronts the design. Riva’s designs, which he describes as ‘born drawn’, retain the artisanal and poetic vision of one of Italy’s–indeed the world’s–grandi maestri of design.