“I am happily subversive. Tradition is an obstacle but not a stop!” Based in Caltagirone, a small town in Sicily famous for its ceramics, fifty-year-old Nicolò Morales represents the alternative wave of modern classicism. A visit to the nerve centre of this town opens your eyes to the fact that the ceramics industry still employs many craftsmen, known here as “cannatari”. Their skills have been handed down from generation to generation and honed over the centuries. A master in the art of sublimating fired clay, Nicolò Morales produces both ceramic art objects and ceramic designer furniture, which he creates under his own name or under the label of a major Italian furniture maker.
Founded in the 1990s by the eponymous architect, Paola Lenti has always pursued a dynamic strategy driven by research and experimentation. The result is a pure and demanding design that combines high technology with the finest natural materials. Earthenware is a central feature of her very latest furniture collection: Bamboo. It takes the form of mobile and modular suspended partitions, designed by Nicolò Morales. Each partition is made up of mini cylinders crafted from majolica (glazed Italian earthenware) of different sizes, mounted on a steel cable (as if stringing pearls) and spaced by small felt discs. These cylinders, which take on the appearance of pieces of bamboo, are decorated and painted by hand by the Sicilian master ceramist. The unique colours have been developed by the designer himself. The result is a composition that undulates slightly as it hangs from the ceiling and serves to delimit the space.
The alchemist of colours
In his studio, Nicolò Morales undertakes intense research to create his own unique palette of tones. The colours are obtained from a mixture of natural pigments, oxides and earth collected here and there around his island before being ground to obtain new shades. For example, the ceramic top (luce) of the Nesso table (designed by Francesco Rota for Paola Lenti) was made by the ceramist in a range of 18 exclusive colours. “The colour has been brushed by hand, which allows it to reveal its expressiveness. It could even be described as a living object because every centimetre has a different shade,” he explains. The new Calatini series of ceramic coffee tables, designed in different sizes and shapes for Paola Lenti, are also perfect showcases for the work of Nicolò Morales. He has decorated each piece with specially invented summer colours or in a tone-on-tone white version, giving the product a distinctive quality that is down to the irregularity and uniqueness of each piece.