As a reaction to the proliferation of ‘borrowed’ silhouettes from maters as Hockney, Hopper, Magritte amongst others and inspired by the geniality of pioneers as skarglubbar, Cutoutmix by Francesca Perani identifies a new architectural silhouette who doesn’t just blend within the image but rather makes a social, cultural and political statement.
‘Cutoutmix supports new galleries of silhouettes promoting a contemporary,diverse and inclusive vision of the world of design.’
With two collections designed (Calendar & Archifunky) and many more to come Francesca, who defined herself as a graphicarchitect, and her team of strong creative women seek to transcend old clichés and trite stereotypes. Their objective is to offer a new and energetic interpretation of the architectural cut out character where factors as skin colour, physical abilities as well as genders are addressed with cutting edge drawings. From the impersonal photographic silhouette which exists as background to the architectural image, cut-out mix brings the funky statement character to the foreground challenging the architectural space and charging it with specific meaning.
Who influences you graphically?
When I was about twelve Figurine Fiorucci caught my eye. I was intrigued by those collectable stickers picturing an imaginary, visionary world hosting unique characters from the 80s. I mainly enjoyed the irreverent playful way of communicating fashion using straightforward graphic design.
At present, although many illustrators and designers captivate me, I am certainly more influenced by entrepreneurs such as Tina Roth Eisenberg and her inspiring projects Creativemornings, Tattly or TeuxDeux which are using design to generate a positive change in the world of creativity and beyond.
What is the role of the silhouette within the architectural image?
Atmosphere. Silhouettes are, in my view, a way to transfer creativity and emotion to renderings. I consider architecture a playful activity even though it takes a lot of dedication and persistence; being accurate in the choice of characters hosted in my design visions expresses the individual, unique care given to each project and therefore to each of my clients. I belong to a generation of ink drawers, yet I am super-thankful to the internet for providing so much material in sharing mode and simplifying our work. Now I feel I want to give something back. Also, I am concerned about the extent of copyright infringement in the use of silhouettes taken from renowned painters or photographers. This needs to change, we need to mention authors, architects, illustrators, graphic designers, photographers…. yet we need to have the copyrights to use their precious material. This is why I made my own collections available in free sharing mode under creative commons licenses. (use it in any way, share it, just mention cutoutmix as the author)
What is you take on our contemporary condition of architectural drawing?
I am really thankful to be experiencing a new wave of renderings. At long last, after the allure of the power and accuracy of photorealistic digital representations we are now rediscovering the legacy of past masters of the craft: they did not give all the answers to their clients, they instead transferred the emotional power of the space. The new design-storytelling method does not imply simply referring back to Archizoom, Superstudio etc., it is also a great mix of multiple, dedicated, digital sources, photography together with technical line drawings, illustration and model making. I feel perfectly in tune with this narrative approach. Last but not least, my favourite visual tool: Gifs images. They hold the power to turn architecture in to a dynamic self-explaining conceptual instrument; they are the best way to make architecture come alive through motion.
How did the Calendar series influence Archifunky and vice versa?
Calendar developed from an idea I shared with visual artist Claudia Manenti last summer. We were so fed up with always finding the same characters in international designs that we decided create our own and share them in open source.
Our shared love for architectural representation was the original driving force. We decided to have fun dressing up and posing as models ourselves. This became our Christmas calendar present: 12 months, 12 rebel independent babes.
The principal idea was blending photography and illustration to generate a new interpretation of cutouts. We decided to bring a new character to life each month with an individual, quirky story by Giovanna Bosis, Italian-Irish creative writer.
Later, with the precious collaboration of designers Ilenia Perlotti and Irene Nembrini, I decided to create a more illustrative gallery once again based on a combination of disciplines, tech drawings and flat illustrated figures.
What defines the way you compose a cut-out? -textures/colours/activity etc
Attitude first, exploring new contemporary anti-stereotypes; then vibrant colours together with well recognisable technical hatchings.This collection synthesises all my love for geometrical illustration and aesthetic beauty with the unexpected twist of artistic hairdos.
The result is a zingy collection narrated through the use of funky techno/graphic patterns.
How do the cutouts address larger contemporary social issues? What do these specific cut outs want to say?
Archifunky collection is meant to be more than a mere addition to the growing choice of silhouettes, it also embraces a peaceful, diverse and inclusive vision of the designed future. Skin colour, different ability and a wider gender spectrum are central to this set.
Any sneak peek into the new collection? What and where do you see cutoutmix heading?
Both Calendar and Archifunky are going to grow soon. Some of the new characters are already previewed in the image Sunset at the Sea. In two weeks’ time we are going to introduce our SEASIDEArchifunky collection and top view cutouts.
Our goal is to connect illustration industry and architecture; we intend to bridge the gap between designers and illustrators. I am in touch with several artists wishing to take part in the project. In the past Illustrators were used to collaborate with architects in their visualisations, it’s now time to reconnect the two disciplines recognizing professional work.
Francesca Perani’s studio (www.francescaperani.com) is the creative force behind cutoutmix, a platform where architecture meets design meets illustration. She describes herself as a natural born artist however she backs it up with quite a solid base of formal training and an architecture degree. She works tirelessly across multiple facets of visual communication and design with desecrating irony. She is a firm believer in the power of shared creativity as an effective instrument to bring about change.
Www.cutoutmix.com is a must visit site for anyone interested in moving away form traditional projects and advocating a bold straightforward and more balanced world of design.