Irrational Exuberance

SICIS Nano
SICIS Nano

Earlier this month the window display at Sicis on Broome Street in Soho caught my eye, as it often does. Only this time it was, as I wrote when I posted a picture of it on Twitter, ridonculous--beyond. It was a bathtub--in the form of a gold, mosaic, high-heel platform pump. I loved it for its sheer craziness--who came up with this thing? And then--decided to go ahead and make it?!

And, in fact, it was beautiful. Sicis' mosaic workmanship is always exquisite. The detail on this wacky bathtub was no exception. Since then Sicis has cropped up two more times--and both times it's been for another exuberant product or collaboration. A week ago, the India Art Summit was held in New Delhi. A friend posted pictures on Facebook. One of the standout items in her photo album--for its sheer fun factor--was a vibrantly decorated Nano (pictured above). Turns out--it was, as the license plate says, a Sicis production--on behalf of Singapore-based, British-Indian artist Ketna Patel.

Created in conjunction with Patel's gallery as part of a project to address the rapid economic and cultural changes at play in India today, the Nano, dubbed the People's Car, was deemed the perfect vehicle for Patel's expression. This one was transported to Italy where, over a period of four months, Sicis artisans applied Patel's designs to the car. The result speaks for itself.

Then, yesterday, came the announcement that French fashion designer Christian Lacroix will collaborate with Sicis on a home furnishing line to be exhibited in Milan in April at the Salon del Mobile. Lacroix, who created a revered Haute Couture line until falling prey to the recession in 2009, is known for his passionate, breathtaking use of color and meticulous attention to detail. The partnership with Sicis makes total sense.

Sicis was founded in 1987 by CEO Maurizio Placuzzi. Based in Ravenna, Italy, a city renowned for its contribution to the mosaic craft in the 5th Century, the company today channels those roots in a thoroughly modern way, blending craft, excellence, humor and creative, cross-cultural collaborations with a wink and a nod.

Not all products are as cheeky as the bathtub or the Nano--its mosaic rugs draw on Ravenna heritage and are pure, unadulterated beauty. Some products teeter perilously close to the edge of tackiness--the bathtub is an example. And yet, somehow, they always seem to manage to stay just this side of the line. The net effect: lovely.

You can see the Sicis collection of pop art mosaics here and a video of Sicis' Scrooge McDuck here. Enough said.