The Hirshleifer’s shoe store design in Manhasset New York, completed in December 2009, is a subtle reference and an homage to the world of art and design history, mainly Italian and American.
It is indeed a space where references and memories happen in a metaphysical way and are not entirely visible at first sight, a place for a dialogue between two opposite texts: the first is minimalist, rigorous and precise, alluding to the art of several American figures such as Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre or Donald Judd in its physicality and spirituality; the second is a reference to the rich, sensual, decadent, unpredictable and free world of the Radical Design groups that changed the course of design in Italy from the late sixties to the eighties.
Sergio Mannino negotiates masterfully between the tendencies of each “text” – style – to create surprising effects that contain continuity within the contradictions. Space and timing are experienced through a proscenium of subtle humor and strict precision.
The rigorous formalism of the minimalists (whose formal precision is also easily found in the obsessive care for the details typical of the Italian culture) is challenged by “folies”, unexpected elements winking at you from some other world: a glass case sitting on a sofa (a reference to a 1967 piece by Italian Architect Gio Ponti); a neon sculpture gently curved but burning in white artificial light (another reference to the Italian art world of the sixties, this time, Lucio Fontana’s Concetti Spaziali); a bloody red wall that sets the backdrop of the scene. As in a theater nothing in the store is real or natural: the floor has woodgrain but is made of ceramic tiles; the Fjord red stones by Moroso are soft and upholstered in fabric and leather; the biomorphic and the geometric shapes in the space are embedded in heavy, shiny lacquers or neon lighting, yet the result is noisy silence, indeed a statement.
Design: Sergio Mannino Studio / S. Mannino, F. Scalettaris, F. Bruni, G. Spagrud