Goldsmiths CCA will present the first ever survey exhibition of Ruggeri’s work who was a unique figure of Italian postmodernism
Photography courtesy of Occhiomagico. Ritratto di / Portrait of Cinzia Ruggeri
Words by Joe Lloyd
Cinzia Ruggeri was many things: fashion and furniture designer, artist, sculptor, interior architect and teacher. She was both a Surrealist and a postmodernist. And she was a true pioneer. Ruggeri was the first designer to enhance her garments with technologies such as LEDs and liquid crystal.
She created clothes and furniture from dozens of unexpected materials, from felt to glass. She made a bed dress with an accompanying headpiece resembling a pillow, formal dresses inspired by the pyramids of ancient Mesopotamia and chairs out of stuffed animals.
What she was not is particularly well-known. This might be partly because of her gender: it is hard to imagine a man with her unbounded creativity would be neglected. It also might be due to the difficulty of characterising someone who worked in so many different contexts, as well as her own refusal to sit neatly into place.
Photography, Cinzia Ruggeri, Cinzia says…Exhibition view, MACRO, 2022
Although she associated with radical design groups like Studio Alchimia and Memphis, she never became a full joiner. As a result, she has sometimes seemed a side figure in the annals of modern Italian design.
Since Ruggeri’s death in 2019, however, her reputation has begun to flourish anew. This October, Goldsmiths CCA will present the first ever survey exhibition of Ruggeri’s work. Previously shown in MACRO, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome, it will include over 100 works and stretch across the entirety of the CCA’s Assemble-designed space. A major monograph will be published for the occasion.
Ruggeri was a native of Milan. She had a precocious artistic energy: she held her first exhibition of art in 1960, aged just 18. She then studied design at Milan’s Academy of Applied Arts, before moving to Paris to apprentice as a stylist with the legendary courier Marie-Louise Carven. After some years working for her father, she founded her first fashion label, Bloom, in 1977. Further collections, including her eponymous range, followed.
Photography courtesy of Archivio Cinzia Ruggeri Milano / Milan. Cinzia Ruggeri, Cinzia says…Exhibition view, MACRO, 2022
By the end of the 1980s, Ruggeri was at the peak of her success and influence, and could have become a major figure in fashion. But she instead decided to move into art and teaching, pushing herself into yet more experimental places.
The Goldsmiths exhibition will offer a unique chance to rediscover all facets of her pioneering, cross-disciplinary practice—and confirm her as one of the great figures of Milan’s design history.
Cinzia Ruggeri is at Goldsmiths CCA, London from 5 November 2022 — 15 January 2023
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