Studio Swine designed a three-piece condiment set based on architectural elements – a column, an arch and a brick wall – to use as salt shaker, pepper shaker and sugar box. Inspired by Babetto’s playful geometry and mastery of trompe l’œil, the duo looked to the ancient architecture of Padua. The squashed shapes are reminiscent of the depiction of architecture in early Renaissance paintings, such as Giotto’s chapel frescos, particularly the cycle embellishing the Scrovegni chapel in Padua, with its flattened perspective. Studio Swine liked the lovely awkwardness of early attempts to draw buildings in perspective. The elements are brushed matt silver resting on a mirrored plate, which completes the forms illusorily. The reflection gives the pieces a feeling of weightlessness, as if floating in mid-air.
The top brick of the sugar box lifts off as a lid. Studio Swine had never designed in silver before, nor had Giampaolo Babetto ever worked with a designer. To craft the condiment set, he invented new techniques using his usual tools. “In general, I construct contemporary objects using traditional techniques,” says Babetto. “I see my work as being classically modern, although that might sound like a contradiction.”
What he enjoyed in this project was the simplicity of the shapes and the extreme difficulty of their realisation. “Babetto solved all the construction challenges ingeniously and without compromise. For the tiny curves of the fluted column, for example, he made tubes by stretching and hammering the silver around a rod and cutting them in half vertically,” says Studio Swine.