Talk: Ugo Cacciatori

A new Henge meeting opens a collaboration with a great international designer whose philosophy merges with the brand’s in a surprising way: Ugo Cacciatori investigates the material, respects and folds it into projects with a unique identity.

The relationship he forms with the material is rooted in his DNA. He is the son of a dynasty of marble quarry owners and sculptors whose powerful echo influence his daily journey of discovering the world. Full of important collaborations with some of the most famous fashion brands, Cacciatori’s career and his intellectual approach to life permeate his work of culture and deep suggestions. We interviewed Ugo Cacciatori to discover the man and the designer behind such an eclectic production and life. Functional–aesthetic or interpretative relationship: What does design mean to you, and what is your philosophy of creation?
Starting from the premise that I do not take myself very seriously, creativity has no philosophies or meaning that goes beyond the process of transposing an idea from fantasy to reality. This takes place both in figurative and conceptual art. Therefore, art is an end, and in the case of design, it adds a functional need. The ability to create depends on subjective sensitivity towards the material and the logic in adding it to the shape in a unique and essential way. My ability comes from a lucky combination of events, how I was 'created' and how I internalized my personal experience. My childhood memories are those of a father and a grandfather on the front of a 127 car that trudges decisively on an impossible road to the quarry, of impressive sections of mountains that descend silently from the distance imposed by the launch, the blast of the quarry, the hum of the screw thread, the grinding noise of the blades on the block, and of a scientist mother who taught me that every creature, and therefore every creation, is never random.

What inspirations drive you to begin developing new designs and products? 
More than inspirations, I would talk about information, of the simple combination of complex data stored with natural curiosity over the years. The match is usually immediate, does not need a further substrate, mood boards, in-depth analysis. Relying on sensitivity and instinct, I select the minimum number of remaining possible elements ready for any kind of contamination and variation during the process. From the head and the heart, the idea becomes communication through the mouth and hands. The form’s intuition is three-dimensional like in a magic trick. The materials speak, the colors come together spontaneously without judgment, without fear. It is like magic, like a fairytale that becomes reality. I do not know how to explain it any differently.
 Do you think there is a central feature in your creations?
 The partnership balance between shape and matter; the rest are personal characteristics that are reflected in what I create: the spontaneous processing, the inability to store reality in drawers, the dreamlike attitude, the playful approach. I know others would respond differently for me. Some say, "Ugo Cacciatori, the skulls one!”, while others define me as Baroque, even Gothic. It is like when someone meets my dog, a Cirneco dell’Etna, and thinks it is an albino Doberman, or a Greyhound, or even a skinny Pit Bull... Everyone sees what they want to see. I call myself an ornamental minimalist. Under the aesthetics, the shape’s intimacy exists for those who can see it.
What is your relationship with material and craftsmanship? Do you follow particular principles in choosing materials and their production techniques?

 As I said, my imprinting is made of marble and workshops. I grew up as a little prince among artisans, spending time observing their movements and the results of each action. Without those expert and passionate hands, the stone would remain stone, mute on the mountain. Taking for granted that everything is possible, and that what for me would be impossible but for others is instead routine, what remains for me to be done is to push the process to the extreme. Starting from a relentless pursuit of materials and processing techniques, I enjoy inserting some in unexplored contexts and others in critical situations that sometimes have never experienced before. I need to maintain the subtle limit between testing and stimulating the craftsmen who, in fact, work with the object. Like an acrobat, I must keep everything in equilibrium by balancing the elements, both material and emotional.
 From the creative idea to its completion: How do you tackle the transition from inspiration to realization, and how is the research and experimentation carried out?  Fortunately, I was born in Italy, a country that still manages to give so much in absolute terms of craftsmanship and quality. Despite the sequence of errors made by politicians and administrations, if not the will, to destroy an unparalleled heritage, we are still the only place where it is possible to achieve innovation starting from ancient skills. We have a tradition that we exploit very little, often taking it for granted. Living abroad gives me an objective perspective on the potential of the Italian workforce. Inspiration can be formed by diverse research, but experimentation and realization could not take place elsewhere. The only way to understand the physical limits of the idea is through the constant presence of the designer in the workshop and his dialectic relationship with the artisan. Once one has earned trust, creativity and experience come together, and the magic of creation simply happens.

Henge: Do you see any common points between your work and the brand’s production? What do you think is its most interesting feature?
 The first time I went to the company in Treviso I was surprised to see how much of Massimo Castagna’s research efforts coincided with mine. We both do creative work intended to be for sale, not for galleries or even museums. This does not mean that it is less intense or different, but it is not uncommon to see compromises when referring to a competitive market. The collaboration with Henge is the confirmation that there is still the possibility to confront design with purity, freedom of approach, and with a precise vision. This meeting has strengthened the intent I have always had in combating a simplistic and undermined or pretentious and pseudo-artistic contemporary aesthetic. The responsibility of any design company should be to communicate the beautiful, to say that it is still possible to create original concepts while respecting the materials and taking care of the details. Unfortunately, those who copy trends today tend to interrupt the possibility of creating real groundbreaking movements. Image marketing always has the loudest voice for content, and in a noisy world, word of mouth becomes impossible. The battle is very difficult. However, I still believe in it, and I feel I am not alone.
 The collaboration with Henge: How did you find work with the brand, and which ideas did you start from? What are the main characteristics of the products that will come out of this meeting?
 The meeting with the brand happened randomly. About two years ago, while I was designing the residence of a couple of friends in Los Angeles, I came across some pieces of the collection, finding a singular assonance between my project’s and Henge’s language. The choice of materials, shapes, and colors were exactly in sync with my own, as if they had come out of a personal search. I simply called the company, and I asked to speak with the owner to understand if minor changes could have been applied. Paolo did not know my work. We met and discovered more about each other, and a relationship of esteem and desire to collaborate was born that brought us to this project. The Home collection was created right away, in an instinctive and 'ignorant' way, without preconceptions and without an imposed direction. We simply shared the path with emotion. So far so good.

We interviewed Ugo Cacciatori to discover the man and the designer behind such an eclectic production and life.