Seeing Patrizia Doná’s work, in its own, unique way, it pleasantly (if not instantly) evoked another striking individual’s world – that of Natascha Plum. “Oh yes, I love her work” – confirmed Patrizia in one of our D-Day conversations. Without doubt, Patrizia and Natascha would make a winning combination between them, if only they ever team up – reflecting their mutual, everlasting love of monochromatics. Patrizia started Laboratorio Doná, a place where reinterpretation of found objects takes hold, directing these into objets d’art – but not objets d’art in themselves. Yes, at first it was pure and simple exhibits but exploring the possibilities of reinterpretation further, Patrizia turned these into functional, eye-catching accessoires, strikingly unique for both, the creator and the customer.
In fact, so unique that on one occasion Patrizia even experienced a theft situation – a person who stole one of her unique purses was quickly found and when given the opportunity to explain, this person said – “no, I didn’t steal it, I only borrowed it – it was my performance”. Well, if this is some compliment – or to some consolation, Patrizia’s work tempts people to commit petty crimes and explain their actions as “art”.
Can we view your work through the “ready-made” prism? My studio, Laboratorio Donà, can be described as the place of redesign, reconstruction and recycling of various found objects for everyday use and reinterpretation of fashion as a medium. When consciousness divorces all knowledge about a subject, and its original function, a space for any number of unpredictable transformations opens. I am fascinated by highly aestheticised, simple and complex mechanical objects, such as old typewriters and musical instruments, whose parts I use in my collections.
How do others view your work – how do you imagine an ideal carrier of your creations? I have not yet experienced my work leaving anyone indifferent, although I have to say that people have different views on it. For example, some may view my unique bags with built-in typewriter keyboards as a piece of art, a sculpture, and are not surprised when I tell them the price of such an object. Others may see it as a wacky bag, a fancy toy they might like to stroll with through the promenade. The ideal holder is the one on which such an object will not “stick out”, but will present a “pièce de résistance” in their fashion style and lifestyle.
Handmade work is always more appreciated. Is there, in the context of your products, which – each in their own, are unique – something we might call the “general public”? How many models are produced annually and where can people acquire your creations? I started a series of accessories called “Hommage à Remington” a few years ago. At first I exclusively made uniques which primarily functioned as exhibits. In early 2011, as part of the same theme, I presented the commercial line where artistic models of Remington bags were simplified for functionality’s sake, without losing the exclusivity of their design and the quality of their build. Unique models are exclusively made to order, while this commercial series is available in Dizajnholik, Top, Sky (Zagreb), Mar & Val (Zadar), gallery Kiks (Rovinj), and Mixer House (Belgrade) stores.
Where would you say is the boundary between “applied art” and just “art” – does design in general today lean toward the latter? Art knows no boundaries, and “applied art” must have “applicable” character, thus it is somehow limited, i.e. it is necessary to take care of the functional components. When I start thinking about a new work, I approach it as “art” because of the freedom of expression, but in the end I do like to examine its possible “usable” commercial derivatives. I am only satisfied when next to a unique and complex “wearable object” in my collection, I also have its simpler wearable version intended for a wider audience. The boundaries between art and design are now loose, and one enters the field of another, thus creating more space and freedom to create ideas. Today, design leans toward art, and an excellent example of this is the Dutch product designer Hela Jongerius, whose work inspires me over and over again.
“Hommage à Remington” is the name of your latest collection of accessories which you presented at this year’s “D-Day”. What is your creative process, do you choose the additional materials randomly, or do you know in advance that it would be a “Remington”, a “Petrof” or a “Hohner”? How much time do you devote to creating one of these unique items? I do not start on a predefined idea. When I see an object – a typewriter, an accordion, a trumpet or a winding key, I start thinking about how I could transform them into a wearable object. I do not do sketches, I start to work on the material immediately, or I deconstruct a ready-made object. In this process of deconstruction and reconstruction, “wearable objects” are formed – some of which function only as exhibits, while others are fully usable (wearable). My most demanding work, conceptually and technically, was the Metamorfodion #2. It is a complex object on which I have worked for two months. To create a bag with a built-in typewriter keyboard I usually need about two weeks. Each typewriter is a story in itself, and every time I create a new bag, I seek another technical solution to the whole problem of integrating the key mechanism into the bag, which should ultimately be functional.
Can you name an ultimate favorite among your previous works? The Metamorfodion #2, the bottle for the Chanel No. 5 perfume (from the “Pleasure to superfluity” series).
You nurture a strict relationship between black and white with subtle planes of colour – is there a place in your expression for multicolour / psychedelia / kitsch? I love the monochrome and pastel, pale colours… gray, skin, milky white… Lately, I’ve been breaking the paleness of the colours with bright orange, yellow or red, but still at a ratio of approximately 90% paleness and 10% of colour. Kitsch is alien to me, but you never know, maybe I surprise myself suddenly one day…
Have any of your bags ended up as a museum exhibit? Would you prefer that your work comes to life as a museum piece or would a fashion show be a more fitting “museum” for presenting avant-garde garments? For now, there aren’t any works of mine in any permanent collections of a museum, but I have no doubt that several of my works shall to find their place there. I absolutely prefer museum and gallery spaces for my work, and I avoid fashion shows.
Further information: laboratoriodona.com
Interview conducted: 0.5, proofreading/translations: Goran Gregor
Patrizia Doná’s work photographed by Pasquale Protopapa and Jovan Kliska