Paola Navone’s “Take It or Leave It” Objects, as Seen in Their New Homes
Three weeks have passed since our Milan Design Week exhibition “Take It or Leave It,” in collaboration with the Italian architect and designer Paola Navone, during which she gave away hundreds of items she had collected or designed over the years, from Indian metal spoons and indigo textiles to German porcelain and ceramic pitchers from Puglia, through a free lottery. The 600-some lottery participants have since returned to their respective homes—in locales ranging from Stockholm to Singapore, from Tel Aviv to Hong Kong—and along with them so too have their newfound treasures. It turned out to be quite a remarkable concept when viewed in macro terms: Items that were once sourced around the world by Navone, or in certain cases that were designed by her, were then redispersed by their new owners to new destinations around the world.
The project’s mission was to give the objects a new life—as was stated in the final line of the exhibition’s manifesto—and in execution, that’s exactly what happened. One piece now resides in an eclectic Vienna home. Others are nestled in cozy New York City apartments. Another is in the south of France, now living by the sea.
We recently put out a call to all “Take It or Leave It” participants for submissions of photos of their objects in their new homes. Below, a selection of our favorites.
Object No. 509, a turquoise ceramic pitcher, in the Paris home of designer Amandine Gerbe. “I live with my boyfriend. We’re both designers, so we have a special affection for objects,” Gerbe says. “We have a shelf in our home where we display all of the objects we love, including souvenirs, gifts, and objects we made ourselves. We placed the pitcher on it, and now I sometimes use it as a vase or to water the plants.”
Object No. 701, a blue egg pan, on the dining table of Judy Dobias, a communications consultant who lives in London. “My cobalt blue egg pan is not for eggs,” Dobias says. “It sits alongside my Japanese wooden spoons and Seiger teapot from Germany. It puts a smile on my face.”
Object No. 653, a large, cast aluminum metal spoon, on the New York City dining table of Dung Ngo, editor-in-chief of August journal, among other spoons from his vast collection. Asked why he likes the spoon, Ngo says, “Archeologists theorized that the spoon evolved from found natural items, such as a dry leaf of a half coconut shell. This spoon was made with one of the most low-tech methods: sand cast aluminum, and brings us back to the earliest days of tool-making.”
Object No. 525, a pair of porcelain cat figurines, in the home of interior designer Lauren Rottet in Houston’s River Oaks neighborhood. “The cats reside on an acre in the heart of Houston under the live oaks in a 1927 home full of contemporary art and my furniture prototypes,” Rottet says. “I placed them on a chinoiserie cabinet that holds other porcelain objects from my collector grandmother, who had a home full of Tiffany lamps. I have this odd vignette where old-fashioned porcelain figurines look down at this oversize (for them) fabric sculpture of a pomegranate (made by my artist daughter) as if it had appeared in the fields in front of them. I added the two porcelain cats to the vignette, and they feel right at home!”
Object No. 524, a papier-mâché Chinese New Year mask, on the bookshelf of Daniela Cerrato, the marketing director at Mondadori Media, who lives in Milan.
Object No. 685, a spiral egg cup, in the Courmayeur, Italy, home of architect Henriet Moira.
Object No. 892, a hand-painted vase, on a bookshelf in the New York City home of Joan MacKeith, the chief marketing and communications officer of the design firm Rockwell Group.
Object No. 402, a Chinese porcelain policewoman figurine, on the bookshelf of Alessandro Giontella, an architecture student living in Vienna.
Object No. 118, a set of white ceramic bowls, used for hors d’oeuvre plating by Kate Berry, chief creative officer of Domino magazine, in her New York City home. Asked how the bowls fit into her life, Berry says, “These bowls are all about creating beauty and love—from Paola sharing her collection, to the cumquats grown by my mother, to the honey I cooked them in from my friend, to the flowers and thyme from my own garden.”
Object No. 789, a metal tea set, on the kitchen shelf of business development manager Edward Ho, who lives in Singapore.
Object No. 167, a metal candle holder, on the dining table of Rosa Bertoli, the design editor of Wallpaper magazine.