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  • A P O T R O P À I C I

    The past is the future

    Tradition, defined as “the collection of memories and testimonies linked to a territory” (wikipedia), is gradually disappearing. Nowadays fewer and fewer people know the history of their own city, customs, instruments and processes that once led the foundation of our civilization.
    Despite its etymology deriving from the Latin tradĕre, literally meaning to transmit, to hand over, the word "tradition” is losing this meaning of transmission and transfer of knowledge.

    What we propose is to start a multidisciplinary design studio capable of initially researching and studying traditions, customs and memories linked to a territory, in order to project them into the future through the design and the production of objects. In this way, we would truly comply with the meaning of the word to project, which derives from the Latin proicere, to throw forward.

    We believe that, through the study of the past, one can generate innovation for the future.

    From the point of view of design, all objects have already been produced. The knowledge of the world is based on history, and in history the future is implied.

    Design intended as a project is dying. Nowadays designing only serves the purpose of populating business catalogues. The projects of the last thirty years are doomed to die quickly because of the ruthless business processes, according to which in order to sell new goods, the goods produced six months before must die.

    In addition, quoting Enzo Mari, “Nowadays no word other than creativity is more unhealthy and obscene”. Creativity doesn’t mean to draw something beautiful or never seen before. Creativity is a combinatorial art of various concepts, ideas, images, opinions to get to the right solution to a certain problem. When we think of an object, we don’t look at a product to sell, instead we think of it as a vehicle. The main purpose of a product for us is spreading a tradition that will probably be lost. Being a designer also means having an ethical and social approach, it is the profession that more than others must consider man and his presence in the world, especially nowadays in which "the elsewhere seems not to exist anymore, and the whole world tends to conform", to quote Italo Calvino.

    The name apotropaici comes from the analysis of our territory, and from a study about the presence of apotropaic masks in our tradition. These are stone sculptures depicting demons, that served (perhaps even today) to expel evil spirits and misfortune, and to protect home.

    It is a widespread use throughout Italy. In many cities they have different and folkloristic names, different masks with different names in relationship with their place of belonging. Every one of us wears several masks in our lives, and the social context inevitably influences our growth and choices: after all, we are what we are because we were born in a certain place, and we would probably be different if the place was another.

    A psychiatric and psychological line associates the term apotropaic to the "need to distance yourself from something," either consciously or unconsciously, representing the "escape from danger".

    In this context, it’s the risk of losing our traditions that drives us to go forward.

    Masks represent a pagan legacy that still survives in the modern environments of our cities, and we are surrounded by them, unknowingly and undisturbed. Masks survive, blend and mimic within modernity, resisting any advance of time.

    They are usually positioned on the threshold, which was considered the place that would allow the transition between two worlds, immanent and transcendent, the real world and the dream world. And in front of the thresholds the guardians of these passages stand.

    Similarly, we like to look at “apotropaici” as guardians of our traditions.

    There is an interesting tale of Isaac Asimov (Feeling of Power) that describes a hyper-technological world of the future and it explains how all computers become unusable after a powerful blackout. Then the Pentagon identifies the only man on the planet who can calculate the tablets, mentally, through which they manage to overcome the adversity.

    Despite how technologic the world can become, we must never forget the past. You can invent a thousand ways to turn on a light bulb, at distance and without hands, but the feeling and warmth that a candle light gives us is peerless. This doesn’t mean giving up technology, but rather looking for a fusion between past and present to create an innovative future. Alan Kay, an important US computer scientist at PARC (San Francisco) says that the best way to predict the future is to invent it.

    Only by loving history and studying traditions will we be able to design the future.

    The future is the past!



    Apotropaici Srls
    Via Regina Margherita 94
    76121 Barletta BT - ITALY

    P.IVA/VAT 08220230729