HOMEBLOG › Mother of Pearl's Maia Norman Interviews Artist Francesco Simeti
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Francesco in his studio at the Gowanus Studio Space in Brooklyn; Francesco is represented by Francesca Minini in Milan. The Nerine off the shoulder dress and irvetta gathered waist dress, next to rolls of Francesco's wallpaper Ceramic pieces from an installation in Miami On the wall: The artwork for "Bensonhurst Gardens," an installation created for the Bensonhurst subway station in Brooklyn (pictured below) "It’s a mixture of an Italian garden and a Chinese garden because those are the two big ethnic groups in Bensonhurst." —Francesco (photo by Etienne Frossard The Gowanus Studio Space "This is a Swiss book from the 1930s that I found at a flea market. There are some quite amazing flowers." –Francesco nerine off the shoulder dress in hillside irvetta gathered waist dress in decoy flower (OC buyer Carol Song's favorite!) minos culottes in decoy flower spires gathered skirt in decoy flower
Mother of Pearl's Maia Norman Interviews Artist Francesco Simeti
Each season, Mother of Pearl designer Maia Norman collaborates with a different artist to create a collection printed with their work. For Spring/Summer 2013, she approached Brooklyn-based, Sicilian-born artist Francesco Simeti. Together they translated his intricate landscapes into an otherworldly collection of silk dresses and separates. James and I visited Francesco's studio this week to take a closer look. Happily, it was not the "messy cave" we'd been warned about. Francesco's background is in sculpture and his space is filled with ceramic creatures, natural curiosities, and wallpapers adapted from his digital prints.

In a similarly ecclectic fashion, the prints he used for the Mother of Pearl collection were created like collages: "I start with books and newspaper prints. I scan them all and then I cut them out, overlapping hundreds and hundreds of images." The Hillside print, for example, (which began as a wallpaper created for a show at the Ausstellungsraum Kligental in Basel in 2011) marries botanical imagery from the European Renaissance and China to create a surreal utopian garden. "I make landscapes but with a strong accent on enviornmental issues," he explained. Check out the collection below and read on for an interview between Maia and Francesco!

Shop all Mother of Pearl here.

Photos by James Parker.

Maia Norman: What are your two favorite cities and why?
Francesco Simeti: I grew up in Palermo and somehow I seem to have a thing for seaports, so Marseille is a city I love. And of course South Brooklyn, which has been my home for quite some time now.

Favorite piece from the collection? 
The Minos culottes

Given the choice, would you rather be invisible or be able to fly?
Definitely fly

Which animal would you like to be reincarnated as?


Most loathable creature in the natural world?

What's on your turntable right now?
Suuns, Gonjasufi, and Wooden Shjips

What's your most recent inspiration?
The new Islamic art galleries at the Metropolitan Museum

Who are your favorite artists and why?
Charles Burchfield, Öyvind Fahlström, Rivane Neuenschwander, Pae White, and Lucio Fontana—his ceramics in particular. All of their work is beautiful but with something slightly off-kilter.

In your hypothetical utopian world, three rules?
No cars, no guns, no idiots

I saw your piece inspired by Charles and Ray Eames—do you believe design can change society?
The piece you are talking about, Rubble, was a take on their House of Cards and was intended to be a critique of that very same idea—how design, which at that time was particularly hopeful, had failed to change the world. I replaced their mostly positive, beautiful images with images of war rubble from conflicts around the world. Somehow though, once the piece was fabricated and I had started to assemble it, it felt as if I was constructing something out of destruction and that critique gave way to a more positive, less cynical belief.

Shop all Mother of Pearl here.

FILED UNDER: Mother of Pearl , SS13 , Maia Norman , Francesco Simeti , Studio Visit , James Parker
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