In 1981, Riccardo Dalisi has been awarded with the “Compasso d’Oro” prize for his research on the Neapolitan coffee machine. In 2014 he won another one for his social engagement. It is the most long – standing and renowned world wide design award.
Always socially active, he mixed research and pedagogy with architecture, design, sculpture, painting, art and craftsmanship. His artworks, made with everyday materials such as iron, copper and brass, are housed in the most prestigious italian, european and overseas museums.
What did it mean to you to recieve the Compasso d’oro lifetime achievement award?
“The Compasso d’oro lifetime achievement award was given to me for my social commitment, to me it was like a necessary completion to my first Compasso d’oro award which was assigned to me for my research on the coffee machine that inspired the creation of the “Neapolitan” coffe machine by Alessi”.
How did you come out with the idea of creating coffee machines?
“The idea was born out of a request by Alessi, suggested by Sandro Mendini. Right away, it became an adventure made also of historical research on the origins of coffee and its history. This is how the coffee machine became a character, how it was brought to life”.
Is there a particular model that you care about most compared to others?
“The first one out of these animations, the “Totò” coffee machine, forerunner of the “Totocchio” model. A coffee machine inspired by Totò and Pinocchio”.
What’s your relationship with your creations?
“I immediately forget about them in order to make room for new ideas”.
What did the Rua Catalana experience mean to you?
“It might be a proof of the fact that there’s no creativity nor progress without influences from different cultures, in this specific case craftsmanship (tradition) and design (innovation), popular culture and the academic research. I’m proud to have restored an artisan tradition that was disappearing. Today the boutiques in Rua Catalana are not just producing my sculptures, they are also working for many architects, interior designers and fitters”.
What’s your relationship with Naples? How does the city affect your creations?
“Even though I feel very close to my hometown, Basilicata, I feel very Neapolitan in the way my creativity is kind of messy, in the way I “make projects without thinking”, like the title to a book on architecture that I wrote a long time ago. Maybe the Mediterranean has the strongest influence in the creation of my ceramic, flooring and everyday use products: who knows…”
It is an ancient road in the harbour area, improved thanks to Dalisi’s art. The architect designed sculptures and street lamps made with iron, metal and copper and then made local artisans build them in their own laboratories. Today, the village resembles an open air museum.