Seven totem designs at the Lake Como Design Festival

Sculptural totems in various materials, colors and sizes were exhibited at this year’s Lake Como Design Festival, where the Neolithic-influenced objects experienced a revival.

Among the many designers exhibiting at Italy’s Lake Como Design Festival this year, a notable number drew on totems – traditionally sacred spiritual objects – for their work.

Already in its fourth year, the annual design festival wants to build a bridge between architecture, design and art in the region. This year’s theme of neo-nomadism resulted in a range of designs that reference the place’s rich design heritage and history in the form of totems.

Created by Italian Artistic Director Lorenzo Butti, the event featured work by designers including Italian architect Fabio Novembre, Australian designer Dean Norton and Como-based duo Draga & Aurel.

“The journey must begin with what history has handed down to us, accompanied by a fundamental awareness of the importance of preserving what we have while recreating what has never been seen before and it promote,” said Butti about the festival.

Read on for our pick of seven of the most exciting totem designs:


A red totemic sculpture

Red figure from Min Park

Seoul-based designer Min Park referenced Asian pagodas – tiered towers typically built for religious purposes – for Red Figure, a towering sculpture made of earth and paper pulp and finished with a deep red gloss varnish.

Park based her design, which was on display at the neoclassical Villa Gallia as part of the exhibition by up-and-coming design collective Movimento Club, on Korean stone pagodas, where people gather to make wishes and stack stones on top of each other.


A beige and red fabric curtain

Metamorphosis by Rikki Peltola

Finnish artist and designer Rikki Peltola created Metamorphosis using what she describes as a “meditative and organic” technique, in which delicate paper threads are hand-crocheted to create the textile, which stretches skywards like a totem pole.

The fabric is designed to reflect how plants adapt to their environment by extending their roots outward in search of nutrients and water, particularly in extreme environments.


Two totems in front of a window

Tribu Vases by Verter Turroni for Imperfettolab

Three totem poles by Italian design studio Imeperfetto Lab founder Verter Turroni have been placed on a balcony surrounding Casa Bianca, a historic palazzo overlooking Lake Como.

The totemic stone structures, on display as part of an exhibition curated by Galerie Philia, can also be used as vases. Each column consists of a broad, rounded base and is crowned by various cylindrical shapes.


Two totem poles at the Lake Como Design Festival

A boost from scattered disk objects

Made entirely of marble, these two neutral colored sculptures are meant to look like primitive devices for storing or hiding valuable items such as coins.

Design, technology research and architecture studio Scattered Disc Objects have created several replacement pieces in marble stone that fit neatly into the gaps in the top halves.


The interiors of an exhibition hall at the Lake Como Design Festival
The photo is of Alice Finney

Fran lamp by Llot Llov

The Movimento Club exhibition featured a fringed floor lamp made from natural raffia – also known as Japanese grass – that unfolds to a diameter of 80 centimetres.

Crafted by Berlin-based interior products brand Llot Llov, the natural fibers surrounding the lamp help bathe the light in a soft glow while also contributing to its organic form and totemic feel.


Several sculptural objects on a table at the Lake Como Design Festival

The playful Rover by Christian Schüle

In the ornate Nobel Hall of the Casartelli Science Museum, designer Christian Schüle exhibited a series of sand-colored sculptures entitled The Playful Rover.

Made to be stacked or nested playfully, Schüle’s tactile objects combine pyramid shapes with spheres inspired by ancient architectural structures.


Two lights with hemp shades in a bathroom at the Lake Como Design Festival

Presentation by Agustina Bottoni

Italian designer Agustina Bottoni wrapped these two coordinated floor lamps in a thin veil of translucent hemp fabric, giving them an ethereal look.

Dubbed the Presenza, each lightweight LED lamp has a solid brass base finished with satin that has been sculpted into unusual geometric totem-like shapes.

All images courtesy of Lake Como Design Festival unless otherwise noted.

The Lake Como Design Festival 2022 will take place from September 17th to 25th, 2022. Check out the Dezeen Events Guide for information on the many other exhibitions, installations and talks taking place throughout the week.

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