LEO SGUERA: How does working in New York change the way you work?
Giuseppe : We don’t know anything else. We started in Italy and we worked very little when we were in school. Our adult life really started here. We came here in ’89 for the first time and then we came back after a year to Columbia and then we never left. International Center for Research gave us a scholarship to be here and we were in Columbia with this scholarship after graduating.
Ada : We were exploring contemporary architecture and art in school and it was completely new. Imagine graduating in Naples. We didn’t know anything about anything (laughing). Besides the fact that it was very postmodern …
Giuseppe : In an Italian way
Ada : But also the Internet was not working at that time. So there was just not enough information. It was very very little so for us to come was great. For me, it was curiosity and instinct.
Giuseppe : Yes, it was very instinctual. We graduated in July and we came here in September and then we spent three months just traveling around. We spent an entire month in New York and then went to California, Chicago. We didn’t do the cross-country thing though. We absolutely fell in love with the whole environment – American urban environment, the burban environment, and wide open.
Ada: And mostly of now. It was such an incredible change. I remember very precisely living at Retra School with the feeling that you can do anything. And it’s partially because you don’t have the opportunity but also because the load of history is such an enormous burden. You look at this amazing stuff that’s been done in the past and you think, “this is it”and especially in the postmodern moment, all you do it look at that, at that history
Giuseppe: And not only was it looking at that, it was because modernism was being criticized. It was that everything after the war sucks and that we should be ashamed of it. Even thought about it only what’s historical is relevant and because there is so much, it is still to me still the richest architectural history of the world. Not so much for the grandeur and monuments but just how layered the architecture is how complex and interesting the cities are. It’s amazing. You can spend a whole five years at the architecture university just studying. It’s not enough time. They start from the underground to the monuments to the intricacies of the ceiling and the layering and the Greeks and Romans, it’s just too much.
Ada: And how everything is built on top of what was there before
Giuseppe: The relationship with nature, the hills, the gulf, and the water
Ada: the complexities of earth
LEO SGUERA: Are these ready made containers coming from the port of Naples?
Ada: Not really, because they weren’t there. No, these are very much connected to America. Our inspiration is a little bit New Jersey. I think it’s more the philosophy of the readymade briccolage, but even more so of improvising, of using your intuition, the makeshift kind of things, I think that comes more from that mentality and you see it, when I go there still now, I am amazed at the ingenuity of some of the solutions that I find. Some are architecture. A lot of it comes from poverty. A lot of these are very evident in third world countries, Naples is very much a city where there is an extension between third world and first world.
Giuseppe: There is an expression in Italian “Necessità è madre dell’invenzione” that means necessity is the mother of invention. (different Italian)
b: Do you guys choose like a Du Champian logic. Is that more because he is a harsh social critic?
Guiseppe: It is the ingenuity of the need. It is almost the opposite of Du Champ in the intent. We are very optimistic in that way.
LEO SGUERA: Is it really or is it tongue in cheek?
Ada : Well, yes, it’s a bit of tongue in cheek as well. We do want to see the positive aspect in a lot of it.
Giuseppe : I don’t feel like Duchamps at all. I feel like a kid in a candy store. If I go to a container site in new jersey or a cemetery of airplanes, or even a hard ware store in America. A hardware store in Italy is like a little thing, you got o home depot in America and you’re like wow.
Ada: The hardware stores in Italy are much more home things. I remember when we went to Canal street for the first time, we thought it was a whole other world. We just fell in love. It’s like my mum comes here. She says, I love it that everything here is so stolid. You know that you walk into the subway and you know it’s been there for a hundred years and it will be there for much longer. It’s just done like that. You can see when you walk into a hardware store and look at all these pieces and they’re good, and big and strong, and you’re like “I want to do stuff”.
Giuseppe: They make me think a lot. I remember the last time I went to Milan and I went to the subway. Everything is designed as if you were in a ** building. The stairs, the little marble. There is nothing that speaks of the street. It’s very strange. Or like they try to do the wrought-iron thing. It’s ridiculous with very little metal so you blow on them and they fall down. All the marble steps, they are all broken. It’s so stupid. So I think that we’re very very attracted by the ingenuity of these objects and the heavy-duty mentality, production mentality to begin. We start with the object and how it comes together. It’s even more important than the object itself. It’s the strength of the accumulation, of modularity but not in the post-modernist way but in the obsessive product society way. You go to New Jersey, there are thousands of containers stuck in a very organized but also random way. It’s something that spoke to us very much of our moment. We started to think that it would be interesting for us to look for a new way to do architecture on a computer . So we saw in the extreme world of the artificial nature that surrounds us a lot of indication like going .. mass production, we started noticing that the artificial nature, everything that is man0made has become a second nature, we are so surrounded by it and its so strong, its as strong as a hurricane or a jungle. We started looking the Caloniscopie movie not as a criticism but because We don’t want to be anti-ecological. We both are, Ada and I, very ecological in a way. We re-use stuff but we also love super-production and the invention of all this stuff. We see things as possibilities and we see it as very muscular and strong. It’s not about these cute little things. And we realized that 99% of what surrounds us is that. It’s only 1% that the architect designs. It’s really what surrounds you is other stuff. Both stuff that goes from the ground up.