Although they haven’t been in Melbourne long, Italian duo Erika Zorzi and Matteo Sangalli are certainly making their mark. The pair, originally from Milan, came together in 2010 to form Mathery, a multidisciplinary design studio focused on creative communication and expression through materials. They’ve produced glasses in collaboration with Buratto Eyewear, written a column on DIY design and had a residency at the NGV as part of Melbourne Now exhibition (2013–2014).
Zorzi and Sangalli met while studying at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (NABA), in Milan. The university offers a range of classes spanning multiple areas, including product design, multimedia arts and graphic design. “NABA was born”, says Zorzi, “to fill the gap between the technical universities and the universities focused on just art”. It was here that Sangalli and Zorzi recognised the cohesion in both their work and their working style. Initially working together as part of their course at NABA, they soon realised they were synchronised in their ideas, method and practice.
In 2009, while still studying, Zorzi and Sangalli started the blog 01Mathery to document the creation of 100 objects in 100 days. The results include a pinecone bicycle basket and a bag made from rubber bands. Although the project started as a joke, the pair saw the many possibilities of their collaboration. When asked about their roles within Mathery, Sangalli describes them as having different skills that complement each other. “Erika can understand better than me if we are using the right colour,” he explains. “She is the creative direction. I am more practical in my approach, figuring out how we can actually construct things, a silicone mould for example.”
After working and travelling together for several years, Zorzi and Sangalli decided to spend some time in Melbourne. It was here that the idea for Fruit Ninja was conceived. It began simply with an appreciation for the beauty of fruit skin and a desire to utilise it in some way. “We are interested in the functionality of objects and the story and meaning behind them. We want to create functional products that are charged with meaning.” They set about experimenting with different fruit skins, making silicone moulds and casting in resin.
Their patience paid off. The first resin piece in the collection was an orange-skin jar, quickly followed by an avocado vase, rockmelon coasters and a pineapple bowl. By turning fruit skin, which usually serves a short-term purpose, into an object with a long-term function, Sangalli and Zorzi create beautiful objects that give fruit skin a new meaning. “We believe that every idea could be a potential project,” says Zorzi. “It’s just a matter of how you can translate it in to something real and shareable for people.”