Alessandro Ronfini & Astrid Chastka are two artists who met while gallivanting in New York. Their work caught our artful eye last month at Young Folk’s after party for the Outsider Art Fair when they created a shimmery installation that lit up the room.
Ronfini is interested in creating unique spaces that make inhabitants interact with their surroundings while Chastka is a designer and stylist who re-imagines the influences of art, architecture, and science into exploratory conceptual jewelry.
Art Zealous sat down with the dynamic duo to discuss their tectonic, clean-lined, & unexpected aesthetics.
Art Zealous: Hometown?
Alessandro Ronfini: Treviso, a small town in Italy. It’s a beautiful place with ancient walls surrounding the lively city center, squares and churches everywhere and rivers passing through it defining a little island populated by goats and bunnies.
Astrid Chastka: Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. Most famous as being the hometown of Taylor Swift before she moved to Nashville.
AZ: What are you currently listening to?
AR: A lot of Earth, Wind and Fire.
AC: Chet Faker and Erik Satie
AZ: Last month we admired your colorful installation at Young Folk’s after party for the Outsider Art Fair – tell us about that experience.
Both: We found inspiration for that project in visionary artist Emery Blagdon’s Healing Machine, a shed which he spent years transforming into one of the most beautiful and textural interior spaces we have ever seen. It is filled with hangings and mobiles created out of found objects – pieces of metal and wood, wire, tin foil, paper, etc. Our re-imagination of Blagdon’s Healing Machine was rooted in Dan Dryden’s description when he first discovered the space – he recalls Blagdon switching on Christmas tree lights and seeing them reflect off of thousands of copper and tin elements to create “this whole world, contained within the shed.”
We wanted to create our own immersive and reflective space, infuse it with our architectural sensibilities, and reconcile it with the contemporary streamlined architecture of the Americano. We chose iridescent film because of its exciting color properties and square tiles because their modularity was easiest for us to produce on a large scale. The tiles were strung and the strings were hung along the walls. When lit, the tiles projected colorful shapes along the walls and across the room. People’s movement in the space animated the tiles and the ever changing reflections added another dimension to our display.
AZ: Astrid, please tell us about the art of set decorating and styling as well as your jewelry company.
AC: For me, set design is a way to create a mood and environment. I love to hear what the client’s vision is and to come up with ways to visualize it that feels fresh and exciting. I work with photographers and art directors to create photos for magazines, catalogs, lookbooks, web etc. Right now I am working on a variety of scales, from large rooms to close-up shots of food for magazines or web. I find, make, and arrange the backgrounds, furniture, props, and surfaces.
At Metalepsis we try to design jewelry pieces that have a greater depth of process and materiality and seek out shapes and concepts that are foreign to the market.
AZ: You both have interest in architecture which has always been considered a unique art due to creativity in developing plans. What are some of your inspirations and techniques?
AR: Designing a building is a team effort so many players are involved: the architect, the structural engineer, the mechanical engineer, consultants, contractors, fabricators and, most importantly, the client and the final users. Creativity plays a large role in the concept phase but a good coordination between all these different parties really brings the concept to reality.
AC: I agree, the level of detail and coordination in architecture is fascinating and sets it apart from other forms of design. Maintaining good design on every level is quite a challenge but also great training. I am inspired by architects that build in deference to nature – whether sustainable or by designing interesting new ways that architecture and nature meet or overlap. Land art would be an extension of this. Some of my favorite designers who embody this deference are James Turrell, Carlo Scarpa, and Peter Zumthor.
AZ: Dream collaboration?
AR: Ettore Sottsass if he was still alive.
AC: James Turrell.
AZ: What projects are you currently working on?
AR: I’m finishing a large residential project on the far west side of 57th street and in the meanwhile trying to wrap up a few architectural competitions.
AC: I just finished designing our newest Metalepsis Projects jewelry collection, the Kinetic Edition. This is our first collection utilizing ‘interlocking parts 3D printing’ where multiple parts that link or interlock can be printed or cast at the same time. The parts are printed in wax and connected by a small sprue (piece of cast or printed metal). They are then cast in metal, and after that the sprue is removed to allow the parts free movement. We also continue to explore unusual materials by offering some pieces made of stainless steel infused with bronze alongside our characteristic unfinished bronze and brass designs.