The Vegetable Garden House

Let’s jump a little back to the past and talk about a project which is not exactly art and not exactly gardening but which comprehends somehow parts of both disciplines.

The project was made in the 70’s by an italian collective named “9999”, which was kind of breaking out in the radical design landscape of the moment. The persons who took part in this group were Giorgio Birelli, Carlo Caldini, Fabrizio Fiumi and Paolo Galli and that’s how they describe their work:

“Our project must be understood, therefore, as the model of a real object, which must find its place in the home. It is an eco-survival device, to be reproduced on a global scale. It is itself a habitable and consumable place in accordance with the principles of the recycling of resources. Intentionally, it makes use of very simple elements: a garden, water and an air bed.”

“[through this project] Man is in direct contact with nature: he follows its growth and development; […]. He establishes a symbiotic relationship.

[…] If technology keeps on destroying nature, the possibility of having contact with the vegetable kingdom in its integral cycle will assume even greater significance. The vegetable garden will become the sacred place of a new religion.”

The Vegetable Garden House represents, we believe, an early and important effort to re-evaluate and change the feeling that an environment transmits through the use of the natural element, in this case applied  in the interior spaces of a domestic background.

The project we are presenting was first exposed in the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, in 1972, in an exhibition called “Italy, The New Domestic Landscape”; a great happening where many of the most valuable example of italian design were shown and that, we believe, gave an important shift to Italy’s role as a cutting edge of the discipline in those years. The exhibition is currently being re-proposed in the Swiss Architecture Musem in Basel.

Here you can find some interviews of the designers (in italian)

Group 9999 conceived this project in their early thirties, in between other performances such as a “Design Happening” on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence or interior studies such a multimedia environment for a local discothèque “Space Electronic”. They were co-founders, with Superstudio, of the Separate School for Expanded Conceptual Architecture in 1971.

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