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Assessment 2

March 5, 2017

“Alpha Centauri” (1982), designed by Marco Zanini and made by Toso Vetri d’Arte, has been given its name to mirror the idea of it’s structure; it’s been named after the star system in the closest proximity to our solar system. The star system in question is made up of three stars; the duo Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B with a red dwarf named Proxima Centauri completing the trio which is possibly gravitationally bound to the two other stars. This layout is replicated using bio- mimicry in the mould blown glass flower vase.

Knowing the piece had been created using the method of mould blown glass blowing, the design would first have been created using a hollow mould with the design pattern on the interior, most likely using aluminium or bronze given the high quality finish of the vase; additionally considering the design would need be replicated identically to a high standard.

Measuring in at 37cm tall, the piece has been designed and manufactured by my personal favourite design house; Memphis, an Italian collective of worldwide designers, highly influential and iconic in its post modernistic practise. The whole movement transformed design in the eighties with the introduction of bold outlandish forms to create instantly identifiable sleek yet lively designs, introducing new materials such as plastic laminates; with a movement which changed influenced the way we in which we use colour; playfully dubbed “Bauhaus and Fisher-Price”. The movement continued to impact on youth culture after the collective dissolved, effecting the aesthetical designs of children’s toys, games and television series including cult classic Saved by the Bell.

The “Alpha Centauri” can be found located in the glass collection of the V&A, in the first cabinet to the right as you walk in, with the vase positioned on the top shelf between two additional Memphis design vases. Little information is supplied about the vases individually regarding context however a paragraph of text is displayed at the bottom generally describing the whole cabinet. In the brief overview, the V&A mention how Memphis’ use of colour and geometry emphasise structure crediting them by calling their works ‘extraordinary spectacles’. Some additional particular details referring to the individual pieces in reference to the date they were created, where, the process used to make and the designers behind each summated into a sentence. The museum doesn’t delve into the relevance of who in fact created the piece, simply crediting the designer and crafts-person by listing them, not identifying them individually and talking about their own impact on design and craft.

With the vase’s now estimated worth of between 1,200 and 1,500 euros, the kinds of people who would own a genuine Memphis piece such as the vase at the time of first production would obtain them as status symbols. With the pieces all being hand manufactured to a high quality very few could afford to buy them. It’s likely that the vase has either been donated or bought at auction.

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