- The Design of VIDIVIXI
- You will Hear it for Yourself by Henerico Rossi
- Baccalà Recipe by Rocco de Santis
In Les Contemplations, his collection of poetry published in 1856, French writer Victor Hugo changed the millenary epic expression “Veni, Vidi, Vici (1 Came, I Saw, I Won) into the romantic”Veni, Vidi, Vixi (I Came, I Saw, I Lived). When American industrial designer Mark Grattan founded his design studio in 2014, he decided upon the name VIDIVIXI: a response to his experience and self-discovery journey as a designer and human being.
After a disappointing first launch in New York City, Grattan relocated to Mexico City in 2016 where he found an environment suitable for creative exploration, a new home and a new business partner, Adam Caplowe. The next year, the duo released the sumptuous Japanese-inspired Docked en Rio platform bed, which features curved cotton modules supporting a walnut frame. An impressive showcase of luxurious materiality and highly- sophisticated craftsmanship, the piece became an instant hit amongst discerning design enthusiasts and put VIDIVIXI on a fast track to becoming one of the most desirable names to know and follow in the industry.
Interview by Anna-GiuliaCaradeuc
Product and showroom photography by Pia Riverola and Jorge Abuxapqui
Portrait courtesy of VIDIVIXI
Mark Grattan apartment photography by Maureen M. Eans for EeDecar Us
In spite of the pandemic, the past year and a half propelled VIDIVIXI onto the bigger stage. The studio opened a cinematic showroom in Mexico City and marked its debut at prestigious design gallery The Future Perfect with a Film Noir-inspired 3D short starring its latest collection to Kelela’s moody track The High. A few months ago, Grattan triumphed on television, winning the first season of design competition show Ellen’s Next Great Designer. A week later he announced his new role as Product Development Consultant at SAINT HERON, the multidisciplinary platform and institution founded by Solange Knowles. Now in a very defining moment in his trajectory, Grattan can affirm that he not only saw and lived; he also won.
Anna-Giulia Caradeuc (AGC) – The very first edition of Ellen’s Next Great Designer just wrapped a few weeks ago and Mark, you won the competition so, first and foremost, congratulations! How did this all come about and what was the experience like? Has being featured on a major tv show changed anything for you since?
Mark Grattan (MG) – THANK YOUUUU !! I was invited to participate in the show last January 2020. The audition process consisted of numerous video interviews, phone calls, background checks and email dialogue. The experience was one that should only happen once in a lifetime. Thus far, I have not experienced anything that required that level of motivation and willpower (stress-induced skin rashes and pimples included). And to be completely honest, I am a bit apprehensive about the future of myself and VIDIVIXI, How can I/we keep up? I’m always thinking about what’s next and it’s overwhelming to navigate. I would like to be a judge for the next season or return, years later to defend my title; like an allstars vibe. I don’t necessarily know if it has changed anything… YET (because it will).
AGC – By being the focus of such a broad-audience show. it seems that design is slowly taking a front row seat, in the same way that fashion has for years (decades). Why do you think that is the case?
MG – Home and fashion have always lived in harmony together. It was only a matter of time before the movement reached a broaderaudience. lkea. West Elm, Target have helped fuel this movement. Along with this new surge of collaborations such as Virgil Abloh for Ikea or Harry Nuriev from Grosby Studios for Balenciaga. These industries are finally merging. VIDIVIXI has always aligned the two and has always used fashion as a huge inspiration for our launch campaigns especially. I have a feeling
that Pyer Moss and VIDIVIXI will do something. However, Dries Van Noten, Our Legacy, Dion Lee, Kenneth Ize-if you’re reading this, call me!
Adam Caplowe (AC) – To add to what Mark said, I think that design pieces are beginning to be seen as more than just functional objects. There is an increasing crossover between art and design. Thanks to this, people are now more open to expressing their tastes through the medium. Also, as people were forced to spend more time in their homes during the pandemic, they had the opportunity to look around and really think about the space they live in and how the objects they surround themselves with affect their sense of who they are.
AGC – Backtracking a little bit… Mark, I’m curious to know about your background and how you came to furniture design. You moved from Ohio to NYC to pursue fine arts. What led you to industrial design and ultimately founding your own studio?
MG – My Father wasn’t a woodworker by profession, but should’ve been. He retired as the Lieutenant of the Cleveland Fire Department, but in his free time he pretty much outfitted our entire home and our surrounding property. He was also a painter, found creative interest in landscape architecture and is an overall creative engine which originally fueled my initial interest in the visual arts. Ultimately creativity and the arts were in my blood and I took them by the horns and said, “You’re coming with me.”
AGC – What is the broader mission that drives your work with VIDIVIXI?
MG – What is becoming increasingly important as this brand identity continues to evolve is authenticity. There comes a point when you are presented at a crossroad as a young artist. There are two paths for which to take: one where you can do what you think you should do (what’s more stable) and one that feels most fulfilling spiritually. This mission of VIDIVIXIl is to speak from the gut and speak from an experience. Feelings cannot be trendy. Feelings and experiences can only feel original. VIDIVIXI speaks to an everlasting energy of overcoming fears, possessing resilience and showcasing strength, but not for the entertainment of its spectators, but from within, for one’s own self discovery. I have the patience and courage to be true and authentic with myself”, is an affirmation that stays onmy home screen on my phone. I read it everyday as a reminder.
AGC – There is an ascetic quality to your work and the moods that you create that is incredibly sexy. Chrome, smoked glass, leather. These are some signature VIDIvIxI materials. What are your main sources of inspiration? Your current obsessions?
MG – The inspiration thus far for the pieces that I have been designing for VIDIVIXI have been significantly inspired by the history of Italian design. Italian design is sharp and understated. Like a pair of pants that look basic from afar, but up close have an entire dialogue behind its construction details. Subtlety, sophistication and provocation is the name of the game. Current obsessions include outspoken originality and Black Power.
AGC-When I look at the names you give to your pieces(CafeCon Leche table, On Second Thought club chair.) and how you photograph your collections, it seems to me that the narrative element is central in the way you present your work. How important is context and storytelling to understand what you do?
MG – But how could you have it any other way? Why would anyone stop at designing a product and shooting in on a seamless? Wouldn’t you want to photograph it in the environment you imagined it living in? And wouldn’t you want to name it accordingly? It’s like giving someone else the opportunity to tell our story. Our story is all that we have and it’s important that we are able to communicate this; connecting all of its multiple facets, never leaving room for misinterpretation.
AGC – Mark.you’ve been based out of Mexico City since 2016 and I ‘ve read in a few interviews that leaving NYC and establishing yourself there has really been the catalyst to fully express yourself with VIDIVIXI. The wider range of possibilities and lack of constraints presented by living in Mexico have allowed you to push your design practice further. Particularly. you say that you were finally able to design for yourself, rather than for the city and for the clients. From my outside perspective, it’s a rather interesting reality to learn about. How so?
MG – At a time when I was initially developing my voice as an artist. I thought NYC was the environment to be in. I thought NYC was the place where l would be most inspired and motivated. We all know it is the hub for all things creative. As I began spending more time in Mexico City, I realized NYC was a good place to sell your work and expose the industry to your voice as an artist/designer. But it was not the place to grow as an innovator, artist or designer. Who is to say I wouldn’t have eventually
found my voice in NYC? I know it would’ve taken twice as long. Who is to say I wouldn’t have given up by the time it finally manifested? I was willing to take the risk because I’ll always choose risk over safety and that risk greatly paid off.
AGC – Do you think you would enjoy designing for someone else? If so, what would be a dream commission?
AC – As VIDIVIXI, we would enjoy designing for someone else, but it would have to be the right fit. We are very sensitive about who we choose to collaborate with. This brand has taken years to develop and therefore anyone we work with must share the same values as we do. Creativity, boldness and attention to detail, /just to name a few. Our dream commission is one where we and the client share the same overall vision for the project and at the same time challenge each other’s expectations in a productive way to produce one-of-a-kind pieces.
MG – On a personal level, as SAINT HERON’s Product Development Consultant, I’ve pretty much checked off that box. Working with Solange Knowles is a huge blessing. She’s a superstar not because of who she is – but because of what she believes in. Her aesthetic sensitivity is refreshing and it takes a true visionary to understand and appreciate the creative process. I have so much respect for her and her vision and feel so grateful to be a part of her journey. As our relationship grows I am sure we will embark on a mind-blowing collaboration together.
AGC – When most design studios I can think of started by introducing a chair or lighting series, VIDIVIXI started with a bang by introducing the immediately-iconic Doced En Rio bed frame. Quite daring! This gave the studio a very strong foundation from the very beginning. Was that intentional?
MG – Everything VIDIVIXI does is intentional, but not in the sense of “we have competition, so let’s do our best to come out on top.” It’s about detail, it’s about coming in well rounded. It’s about telling a story. These are necessary ingredients in order to tell the story. From 2015-2016, VIDIVIXI had been dormant while I was fighting to take the company back. My first business partner (2013-2015) tried to take everything from me out of spite in federal court. He lost. It was the rebirth of VIDIVIXI and really
we had no option but to come in hot in order to take back what was mine at the time. It really was a big “fuck you.” I’m constantly in the business of proving things to myself. Go big or go home.
AGC – Mark, your home is located in quite an iconic property: Luis Barragán’s very first apartment building in the city and it’s been at the same time the backdrop for your work and a place for experimentation. You finished renovating it after leaving it empty for over a year. The result is completely stunning, a light-filled tree-house. What were the biggest challenges and biggest victories in the process? Did you plan everything ahead?
MG – The apartment stayed empty for two reasons: I had no money and I didn’t know how it needed to be furnished. It was a process of getting to know how l or the light used the space throughout the day, and what felt right for the energy of the space. This type of process takes a lot of observation that can’t happen in a short amount of time. Admittingly. I am extremely finicky and obsessive. I could not have allowed myself to go into this process without doing the proper research beforehand.
My biggest obstacles were actually getting everything done on time. One day, Asad Syrkett, the Editor-in-Chief of Elle Decor, called me and said “I know your apartment is empty but l’ve got a great opportunity for you. You have two months. Ready, set, GO!” Those two months included Christmas, New Year’s and a global pandemic: December 1st, 2020 to February 6th, 2021 (I moved in October 2019). I was forced to use the same intuition that got me through Ellen’s Next Great Designer. I am now looking for a new project in NYC /a second home in the city.
AGC – Which one of your five senses would you say is the most acute? If you were to pick one for each: favorite touch, smell, taste, sight, sound?
Most acute sense: sight and taste.
Favorite touch: a shaved head.
Favorite smell: fresh cut grass. I had the chore of cutting the grass as a child and I miss these moments so much.
Favorite taste: a late August peach.
Favorite sight: a well cleaned/sterile, naturally lit bathroom..
Favorite sound: a gospel choir that can bring you to tears.
AGC – In addition to heading VIDIVIXI, as you mention above, Mark you’ve been appointed as Product Development Consultant at SAINT HERON. Can you give us a taste of what you and the team are working on?
MG – Every day I learn more and more about what SAINT HERON actually means and represents. It’s ever evolving. It’s a beautiful response to the black community while preserving what is ours. SAINT HERON is an ongoing effort to take back the constitutions that have always belonged to us. My contribution to the movement includes three-dimensional objects, functional and non-functional; products that speak to our existence and our power.
AGC -What else can we expect from you two?
MG – I am personally working on strategies for how to give back to my community. I have stepped onto a platform that can offer me the space to mentor, inspire and motivate minorities. This has always been my mission, I just haven’t been aware of it until now. I feel so grateful and so blessed to have the opportunity to give a voice and have it be heard. I’m flexing new muscles.
AC – We are currently working on a series of limited-edition pieces that will only be available through a handful of select galleries. We have always felt that we are very strong at creating interior spaces, as seen in all our campaign photography. So, we are now making the leap from just being furniture makers to also doing interior design and special projects.
AGC – When you’re at home in Mexico City and not working, where can people find you at?
AC- Both Mark and I live in neighboring areas, San Rafael / Santa Maria La Ribera. I love cooking and therefore spend a lot of time at food markets like Mercado San Juan, Mercado 100 and our local tianguis. I obviously love furniture so I also go to the flea markets like La Lagunilla and the Mercado de Antigüedades in Jardin Dr. Ignacio Chávez. Mark is a big fitness guy, so he spends a lot of time running on Reforma and going to the gym. Whereas I prefer bike rides in the 2nd secc. of the Bosque de Chapultapec park with my girlfriend.
MG – People can find me minding my business.
Photography by Henerico Rossi
Styling by Rebecca Muzzioli
Casting director Giulia Filippelli
Producer Matilda Dawes
Makeup by Kite Chuang (using Suqqu)
Hair by Rom Sartipi (using Oribe hair care)
Models Annie Tice at Premier Models and Patrick Loh at Giulia Filippelli
Photo assistant Daniele Roversi
Styling assistant Laura Lo Piccolo
Production assistant Luana Del Vecchio
The Restaurant Santa Elisabetta is located inside the Brunelleschi Hotel, on the first floor of one of the oldest historical buildings in the city of Florence: the Byzantine tower of Pagliazza. The location is exclusive, intimate and very romantic. The restaurant overlooks the characteristic Piazza Santa Elisabetta, a hidden and precious corner of the historic city center. Here Chef Rocco De Santis with his two Michelin stars,brings the scents and flavors of the sea to the center of Florence, thanks to his refined synthesis of Tuscan-Campania cuisine. The second star comes at a delicate and difficult time for catering, in which the Chef’s vision, teamwork and constant optimistic dedication are to be rewarded more than ever.
Introduction by Alessandro Casagrande
Photography courtesy of Restaurant Santa Elisabetta
Rocco De Santis has a strong connection with his origins. Campania inspires him with emotion: “the ease and sea, the mountains, places and people come together as ingredients of a recipe that lives in my dishes. My masters have transmitted to me the great respect for KNOWLEDGE, which is at the basis of creation and reworking of my traditional dishes aimed at innovation”. Precisely starting from Campania and from the emotional origins that the Chef’s inspiration takes you on a heightened journey with his cuisine. To him Campania warms up the whole menu with the dishes of memory, its key symbols and ingredients. The aesthetics of the dishes are essential, delicate colors and graphics accompany explosive and opulent combinations. The Santa Elisabetta is one of the most interesting gastronomic addresses in Florence. It was awarded the second star by the 2021 Michelin Guide; received two forks in Gambero Rosso’s 2021 ltalian Restaurant Guide and a hat in L’Espresso 2020 gourmet guide.
As a first step, dry the celery leaves and parsley in the oven at 80° for 1 hour or in the microwave at medium power for few minutes, blend everything until you get a green powder.
Second operation, cut the Baccalà fillet lengthwise into large sticks and pass them in the green powder, then join the various fillets and roll them in the film to obtain a sort of mosaic.
Cut into slices about 3-4 cm thick, vacuum-pack and cook at 55° for about 20 minutes. With the albumin that is created in the bag obtained by cooking the baccalà steak with the help of a blender, and the rice oil, whip to the consistency of a mayonnaise to obtain our Pil Pil.
Clean the cauliflower in small rosettes, blanch it in salted water for a few minutes, separately prepare a base with shallot and extra virgin olive oil, brown it and add the cauliflower, wet with milk and leave to overcook, drain and blend until a smooth and homogeneous puree is obtained.
Remove the seeds from the pappacela, brown it in a base of extra virgin oil, sprinkle with vegetable broth and leave to overcook, blend everything, return to the heat and add the agar agar, bring to about 85°, allow to cool, then blend it all to obtain a gel and place in a squeeze bottle. At this point, place the baccalà steak in the center of the plate, on the surface, we will make 2 spots of cauliflower and 3 spots of papaccella gel, sprinkle with pil pil, decorate with the leaves of Minestra Nera, blanched and then seasoned with oil salt and lemon peel, finally our slices of white truffle to taste.