Anyone who has ever been to Venice has consciously or unconsciously encountered Carlo Scarpa’s architecture. His work is connected to the city of Venice as the gondolas are. Except that the work of this Italian architect and designer is less conspicuous than the usual Venetian icons. As a result, it is much less known to the general public but all the more fun to discover.
Renaissance man Carlo Scarpa
For those unfamiliar with his work, don’t think Gothic or Renaissance architecture. Carlo Scarpa was a twentieth-century designer. He was born in Venice and lived from 1906 to 1976. Much of his work can therefore be found in that city, although projects of his can also be admired in Vicenza, among others. With his very diverse body of work, you can easily call him a “renaissance man”. Or “Uomo Universale” as they say in Italian. A man who combined fine art, furniture design, landscape design, garden design, interior design and architecture. Until then, this was not unusual for designers but toward the end of his life, these fields began to grow more apart. And to this day, that is still the case.
In his work, Carlo Scarpa displayed an almost inimitable precision with very many technical details. Every part of his design is unique; there is virtually no repetition in it. It can be said that he combined pre-industrial craftsmanship with a modern design language and industrial materials. And you can think of his details as modern ornamentation. This sets him apart from his contemporaries who either stuck to traditionalism or pursued a thoroughly modern design. Scarpa certainly did not limit himself in terms of materials, although, like his modernist contemporaries, he often chose concrete and steel. However, he did so with an almost artisanal eye for detail and care. That requires a lot of material knowledge on the part of the designer but also a craftsmanship on the part of the performers that you rarely see today.
Some notable Venetian projects by Scarpa include the interior of the Olivetti Showroom in St. Mark’s Square, the interior and garden of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, the entrance to the Fondamente dei Tolentini and the Venezuela Pavilion. If you are visiting Venice and are interested in design and architecture, don’t miss out on Scarpa’s work! His work adds a very beautiful, modern dimension to this ancient city. Wallpaper magazine has a list of projects you can check out. Combine it with a visit to the Biennale, either the art edition or the architecture edition. Fall is the best time to visit. The biennale is then in full swing and there are fewer tourists than in spring and summer. The autumn fog also makes strolling through the narrow streets a very atmospheric experience.