Italo Lupi, City, Territory, Publishing: The Life of the Stylish Designer

Being able to frame Italo Lupi’s professional field of work was never easy: the architect, the graphic designer, the setting designer and, last but not least, the personality of the magazine director coexisted in it. Opposing the constraints dictated by individual stylistic domains and stylistic conventions, Italo has always moved with great freedom in various fields of design, crossing borders and crossing different languages, also drawn from distant spheres of knowledge or living. A search for “contrast” and a passion for the effects of pollution were his style code, which always led him to different results.

And if over the years he found himself making his critical outlook an important part of his profession as an architect and graphic designer, it was more the cornerstone of his venture into publishing. From the first experiments when he was very young with Mario Bellini and Roberto Orives in the transversal magazine “Shop”, also conceived as a place for graphic research, to the “Projex” magazine, with an emphasis on the Italian setting, which covered the contemporary and the past with the same passionate critical sense; From the artistic direction of «Domus» (1986-1992), where he was the first to intervene with a dynamic invention on the cover, defining a new relationship of curious discovery with the essential images by creating a calculated series of perforations, up to the direction and artistic direction of «Abitare» (1992- 2007), already a reference magazine in Italy for the world of design and architecture, resulting in a comprehensive and international reading of the project with a peculiar editorial orientation, always interested in experimentation and research also in the parallel and dark areas of graphics, cinema, fashion and art.

Cover of “Alias” dated April 26, 2003 designed by Lupi for a conversation in the series “Chaise longue” with Roberto Andreotti and Federico De Melis

From the window of privileged gaze that “Abitare” was to him, Italo manages to nurture and cultivate his insatiable curiosity, often proving to be a pioneer in the reading of what would later become our contemporary. He has, for example, the merit of giving space in the pages of “Abitare” not only to established professionals and movements, but also and above all to identify the talent of new talents and the originality of new messages.

Lupi was also able to apply this broad research criterion to his daily life, and became a keen observer of his surroundings because everything interested him, both inside and outside the disciplinary field. His Quovadis Minister’s diary is legendary, as he jotted down names, numbers, and brief notes on thoughts in his beautiful, graceful, angular handwriting. Analog pot, of course, but he’s managed to perfect it so that it’s incredibly capable of relying on the right information at the right time, often outperforming the use of our cell phones.

Italo Lupi, on the other hand, possessed an elegance of other times: recognizable not only by his particular way of dressing – which always included a combination of striped stockings, very narrow ties and the inevitable yellow tool bag as a bag from work (replaced later in recent years with a hunting shoulder bag)—but more than anything else he is identified with the sense of measure conveyed by each of his actions. We will always remember when, a few minutes before the meeting with the mayor of Pavia, he stained his white cotton trousers—which must be the last in his wardrobe, from September to late May—with wine. After attempting to remove stains which, as he might have expected, could only make the situation worse, he presented himself at the rendezvous with a quiet composure full of grace and composure.

In the fifteen years in the direction of “Abitare” he had the advantage of highlighting the theme of the city, understood not only from an architectural point of view, but precisely as an organism included in a close relationship with the territory. This is why he chose to give life to special issues dedicated to countries as far away from Italy as Brazil and Russia. An ambitious and pioneering project, if we think that this happened between the nineties of the last century and the first decade of the twenty-first century, that is, in an era when globalization and the intensification of communications that it entailed were only in their infancy.

And our friendship was cemented on the streets of a big city like Tokyo. We already knew each other and frequented several times above all in the studio of Achille Castiglioni in Milan’s Piazza Castello, who by his strange fate had him and our teacher in different ages; But the first opportunity for a project together was in Japan. There, in 2001, we worked on a major exhibition at the Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art (MOT) dedicated to Krizia, the designer who revolutionized Italian prêt-à-porter, not only participating in the exhibition project but also in discovering and exploring the city. In Japan, in the midst of precision and extremely high quality of detail on the one hand, and the almost narcotic intertwining of messages and communication on the part of Lunapark, in fact we found ourselves with a great affinity in approach, and Bond was born, which then led us to share many adventures and projects over the course of the next twenty years.

Those specific to the city and region were what we experienced most with Italo. We created with him, for the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, city ​​look: a large coordinated image project in which dozens of menhirs, Shanghai, anemometers and cinnabar red installations – the color of the Olympic flame – recreated the image of the Savoyard city from the suburbs to the historic centre. A complex project, together with the many international awards obtained, has led to a much more important positive response, that of the citizens of Turin, who asked to keep it in many of its parts for about two more years in the day after the great event.

In the same city, a few years later, we took care of the installations for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy (2011). Among these, Torino + Light + Italian Colors, the luminous installation 85 meters above the ground on Mole Antonelliana, re-proposes the colors of the Italian flag with a necklace of luminous, checkered rings visible from the entire city and from the surrounding hills. Back in the city, in Milan for EXPO 2015, with the intervention that started from Castello Sforzesco to Piazza San Babila, passing through the Duomo, like punctuation marks, designed a kind of urban living room: a place to meet and talk about the countries participating in the international event.

If in the many meetings in the studio held together, the search for the variable led Italo Lupi to manage time in a unique way, almost expanding it, to make room for new possibilities, at the same time, like the great master he was, he always had the ability Not to impose absolute directions, but rather to determine where to look, thus being open to new and unexpected perspectives. Syed we will really miss him.

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