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Umberto Bellardi Ricci

Interview by Fiona Le Brun
Photography by Martien Mulder

Italian architect and sculptor Umberto Bellardi Ricci’s New York City solo debut

Manhattan gallery Matter recently unveiled DAWN, the first solo exhibition of Italian sculptor and architect Umberto Bellardi Ricci. On view through July 30, the show features a collection of experiential lighting and furniture designs, informed by the designer’s accomplished architecture practice and his academic training in social sciences.

Bellardi Ricci, 44, was born in Luxembourg to a German mother and Italian father, and relocated to New York in 2018 after years spent teaching architecture in London and working on experimental projects in Mexico. His current practice, in part inspired by the view of the New York skyline from his studio space, plays on the refractive qualities of bent metal. “What I find so interesting about the folding process is that the material shifts from something flat with no discernible three-dimensionality, into something that starts to have spatial qualities,” explains Bellardi Ricci, knitting together a balance of complementary elements that appear to use more space than materials. 

The sculptor’s pared-back, monumental forms are meant to be seen in relation to the environments that they enhance, illuminating subtle and evocative relationships between space, light, and material. “The fold not only transforms the structure of the material, but also transforms the relationship of the material and its environment”, he says.

For this collection of furniture and luminaires, the artist paired bronze and travertine with ready-made or mundane materials such as concrete, Dedar bouclé and I-beams. This delicate contrast charges his work with a spacious complexity. 

With DAWN, which name evokes a new beginning for Bellardi Ricci, the artist rejuvenates and pushes abstraction to a new level, building on the legacy of the greats of American minimalism, and aligning with Matter’s mission to foster an ongoing conversation about design on a global scale.

DAWN is on view at Matter (405 Broome Street, New York) until 29 August 2021.

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