words Justin McGuirk
Raw squid and mackerel stew were on the menu at Martino Gamper’s Total Trattoria dinner in the Aram Gallery in March. The event, for which the London-based designer made everything from the furniture to the food, was held to launch Gamper’s solo show.
“I feel like one of those celebrity chefs,” he said, as guests gathered around to watch him stirring onions in an ad-hoc kitchen that he also built himself. In what felt like a Sixties happening, a troupe of young designers and ex-students of Gamper’s applied themselves to rolling dough, chopping oranges and setting the serpentine table.
The Off-Cut table, the centrepiece of the exhibition, is composed of 13 irregularly shaped smaller tables made of different woods salvaged from a school laboratory, a Scottish church and the London Patent Office. Around it sat 25 unique chairs that Gamper made using different combinations of a set of timber components.
The furniture had an improvised quality idea that tallied with Gamper’s approach to the meal. “Cooking and design are very similar,” he said. “Cooking has a more instant result. You can’t just stop halfway through and come back later. And I made the chairs in that same, instant way, so that once you start there’s no return.”
With the help of friends Alex Rich, Maki Suzuki and Kajsa Stahl, Gamper also made cutlery on a ring like a set of jailer’s keys, candles mimicking wickered Chianti bottles and bread lampshades baked around the light bulbs.
“We wanted to create an environment,” said Gamper of the 23rd in a series of Trattoria dinners that he has been staging over the last eight years. “This is part of my life, not just a design project but a gathering of my friends – it’s about not dividing your life and your practice.”
images Adrien Bugari; Shira Klasmer
top image 13 unique tables join into one
Gamper making noodles
Cutlery on rings
Each chair is unique