LAUFEN presents Colour Archaeology

LAUFEN presents the new 12-colour palette for ceramics developed with Roberto Sironi Studio.

On the occasion of Milan Design Week 2024, LAUFEN showcased the exhibition Colour Archaeology: an interdisciplinary journey between art, design, archaeology and the history of colour through ancient ceramic cultures in a time span from 3000 BC to 1500 AD. With its experimental approach, the Swiss bathroom specialist entrusted Roberto Sironi with its first-ever research on colour, which required three years of development and resulted in a collection of twelve colours designed to maintain its value and expressive power over time: a tool for both the present and the future.

The blues of Ancient Egypt, the colour tones of the lands of Mesopotamian civilisations, the celadons of Imperial China, the wabi sabi colours of ancient Japan, and the brick red of Roman sealed earth are some of the colours identified in a research project that analysed more than 10.000 archaeological finds from the most important international museums, from the Larco Museum in Lima to the Rietberg Museum in Zurich, from the Acropolis Museum in Athens to the Metropolitan Museum, to name but a few.

The research, commissioned by LAUFEN and undertaken by Roberto Sironi Studio, expresses LAUFEN's vocation in the search for new expressive languages and multidisciplinary contaminations, and materialises in a palette composed of twelve colours, where the most refined and sought-after shades of the ancient world are reworked to create contemporary and timeless hues.

As with the Polychromie Architecturale, which Le Corbusier codified in 1931 to offer a colour palette to architects that is still perfectly relevant today, the collection of 12 colours that make up Colour Archaeology, inspired by artefacts from antiquity, the cultural, religious and social archetypes of civilisations in different eras, has the strength to retain its value and expressive power well into the future.

“The present emerges as a product of metabolizing the past, framed within a vision that reinterprets remnants of the ancient world from a postmodern perspective,” explains Roberto Sironi and continues: “This aesthetic syncretism celebrates the heterogeneity of elements, serving as an expression of the richness found within different cultural identities”.

The Colour Archaeology exhibition curated by Roberto Sironi
with Beda Achermann and Matteo Fiorini – Studio Lys

The installation in the LAUFEN space Milano is divided into three parts to visually narrate the entire research. It starts in the courtyard where it is possible to admire 10 ceramic pieces created by Roberto Sironi in collaboration with ceramist Luca Mandaglio using diverse techniques and materials, with each piece evoking and referencing a historical production. Embedded within these sculptures are echoes of archaeological excavations, where objects are revitalized with colours that have their roots in millennia-long history of ceramics. Each hue represents a result of a complex alchemical process, reflecting the available raw materials and serving as a testament to the technological advancements achieved over time.

The exhibition continues inside the LAUFEN space on the second floor where we embark on an artistic journey through the visuals created by Beda Achermann and his studio.

The internationally renowned art director has been working with LAUFEN for several years, capturing the brand’s eclectic character and innovative spirit and applying his approach to the brand, which blends tradition and modernity through an ultra-contemporary language that combines art, photography, architecture and design.

The installation curated by Beda Achermann and Matteo Fiorini – Studio Lys reworks archive photos of archaeological ceramics with images created at LAUFEN's production site in Gmunden, Austria, in an abstract and contemporary way.

The images offer a reinterpretation of reality juxtaposing the highest expressions of ceramic processing in history and LAUFEN's innovative Saphirkeramik production technologies. The third part of the exhibition showcases a series of bathroom compositions made with some of LAUFEN's iconic Saphirkeramik pieces in the new colour palette developed by Roberto Sironi Studio.

All the Saphirkeramik ceramic pieces have been produced at LAUFEN’s highly innovative production facility in Austria and fired in the world's first electric tunnel kiln powered by renewable energy. The ceramic pieces in the new shades are combined with faucets, furniture and accessories to create evocative and sophisticated environments.

The Colour Archaeology exhibition project is conceived as a travelling installation and after the Milan Design Week will be hosted in other LAUFEN spaces, in Vienna, Berlin, Madrid and Prague.

Photo credit: © LAUFEN
Cover Photos: Pierre Kellenberger