Woodwork and design by Roberto Conti

The Author & the Mission

Roberto Conti is an Italian designer graphic artist and woodcarver based in London. He has been working in visual communication and design since 2004. Roberto Conti’s artistic home is Pisa (Tuscany, Italy), a city that was deeply influential on the Romanesque current in the Middle Ages.

Conti’s ideas are based on rediscovering visual aesthetics from the past.

His mission is to make quality artworks and furnitures, in a way that incorporates the heritage of past civilisations. 
His work is based on meticulous research and documented sources, exploring the links between art, history and archaeology to promote the distribution of knowledge, critical thinking and the creation of unique, authentic artworks.

He strongly believes in the return of a new artistic and social Renaissance.
We should remember that “Historia est Magistra Vitae”, a Latin expression, taken from Cicero’s De Oratore, which suggests that “history is life’s teacher”. The phrase conveys the idea that the study of the past should serve as a lesson to the future, and was an important pillar of classical, medieval and Renaissance historiography.

The Artworks

These furnitures have been designed and built using almost entirely reclaimed wood, therefore they have imperfections and irregularities but they are 100% authentic and based on historical researches. They are totally hand carved using high quality chisels.

As in the early medieval art, these artworks contain different ingredients blended together.

If we take for example the Lindisfarne Gospels, the artist-scribe copied a southern Italian Gospel book. Interlace or “knotwork” was known throughout the Roman Empire and can be found from Coptic to north Italian art. Germanic mercenaries adopted it, decorating military gear and weaving in a robust stylised form of animal ornament. Fretwork, step or key patterns, were also inherited from Graeco-Roman art.
During the Iron Age the Celts developed a curvaceous, organic style of art, known as La Tene. This was abstracted from Greek plant ornament and formed arcs producing pelta shapes, stylised animal and human forms.

Celtic and Germanic art fused from the 6th to 9th centuries and received stimulus from more recent Mediterranean art. 
Although much ancient art has been created for religious purposes, these artworks have just the function to select and re-elaborate shapes and symbolisms in a secular way. The mission is to remember and repurpose artistic styles that risk to be forgotten.

These are artworks based on a selection of ornaments from Anglo Saxon, Nordic Cultures, Celts, Longobards Merovingian, Romanesque and Cosmatesque.

Considerations

We are living in a world where beauty has been reduced to standard aesthetics and lifeless models, losing the necessity to properly ornate our lives. Western society is more than ever detached from history and in particular from the beauty that lies in historical stratifications. In our production rush, we’ve lost the sense of craftsmanship.

In the case of furniture building and wood carving, overproduction and the futility have almost completely destroyed the value of craftsmanship.

Good wood carving design requires imagination and a cultural environment. Not only is some sort of artistic personal touch necessary, it is unavoidable. It’s best to embrace that, not fight against it.

As we know, history is a cycle and what happened most probably will happen again. From that we should evolve and improve ourselves. We can also understand from this that a new “golden age” will rise again, showing the progress made during the crisis.

This Chest of drawers (reclaimed wood) is inspired by Italian romanesque style the 11th century AD (left). Oak top chest (Centre), Bedside table (right)
Hall table with carved side board in seasoned oak.

Thanks you for reading! 
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