"We want to introduce you to everything that has remained outside the door: contrived banality, intentional vulgarity, urban furnishings, biting dogs." This was how Ettore Sottsass—then art director of the furniture manufacturer Poltronova and the typewriter manufacturer Olivetti—introduced the driving philosophy behind Archizoom Associati, the irreverent group of young Florentine architects and designers who sought to revolutionize design, in the pages of Domus in October 1967. Taking their name from the British architectural collective Archigram, Archizoom questioned ideas of good taste, upset assumptions about functionalism, and sought to reorganize architecture's hierarchy by placing consumerism at the top in order to "demystify" it. The collective is today best remembered for their proposal for a new metropolis, No-Stop City (1969—72), which collapsed factory, supermarket, and residence into one limitless, artificially lit, air-conditioned urban space. Their resulting concept of "Anti-Design" influenced important postmodernist architects and designers including Rem Koolhaas and Sottsass's own Memphis Group.
Poltronova manufactured this printed textile—the only textile designed and retailed by Archizoom. The color scheme and design condensed the artistic vocabulary of the Superarchitettura installation into two dimensions. Designed by Branzi for Archizoom in 1967, Farfalla (also known as La Farfalla di Battista) depicts a butterfly gliding over a lawn peppered with patterned flowers, set against polka-dotted clouds in a cobalt sky studded with yellow, white, and red stars. The insect's dripping hind wings and the clouds and stars recall Lichtenstein's paintbrushes and characteristic Ben-Day dots. Possibly inspired by the 1920s bedroom furniture of children's book illustrator Antonio Rubino, Farfalla was conceived as a child's bedcover (though never retailed) and as curtain fabric, the lightweight synthetic weave intended to flutter like its namesake creature. Farfalla was their only executed textile, being one of just six series of products manufactured by Poltronova.
Lengths of Farfalla are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2017.180); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2017.166); and Philadelphia Museum of Art. A length screen-printed on cotton is in the Centre Pompidou (AM 2002-1-3).
Published in the Cora Ginsburg Modern 2017 catalogue.