Lorenzo Nassimbeni is a South African architect based in Johannesburg and Cape Town. He works in the medium of drawing, mural work , sculpture and surface design. His work is unique in its focus on the area where the disciplines of architecture and fine art meet. The practical methodology which he employs is powerful, describing the essence of his primary inspiration, the ‘urban landscape.’ Across the media of wall-covering, fabric design, mural design and fine art, his portfolio of work is unified by a signature architectural style of drawing: a distillation of black line on white background. In the realm of fine art, Nassimbeni has exhibited extensively in South Africa, both in solo and group exhibitions. On the strength of the selection of his work by acclaimed critic, Vittorio Sgarbi, his work was exhibited at the 54th Biennale di Venezia in 2011. Other noteworthy exhibitions include the 10th Triennial for Form and Content (2011), the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, at the Fittja pavilion and the FNB Joburg Art Fair (2014, 2016).

Kicking off our 2018 Top3Tuesday series, Lorenzo shares some of his top interests with us this month.

3Sea Point Public Swimming Pool and Promenade

Sea Point Public Pool, Cape Town. © Lorenzo Nassimbeni

I have an interest in spaces/objects/narratives that were not designed with the intention of being avant garde or ground-breaking, and which embrace a sense of the ‘ordinary’ and ‘every day.’ In a sense, such things are not borne from the pen of a designer, but still have an innate beauty and power. The Sea Point public swimming pool is a good and important example of such things in my opinion. As a public space in Cape Town, it represents an environment of democratic access and racial overlap. As a mediator between city and sea, it is an edge which can be occupied by people of all walks and life in the city, and provides momentary snapshots/a cross-sectional sliver of the wide demography of an otherwise rather stratified metropolis. Perhaps from this perspective, the pool and promenade are indeed ground-breaking. One thing is certain, as an urban space – it is breathtakingly beautiful.

2Brass Top Table & Hardwood Chairs (James Mudge)

Brass Top Table with Hardwood chairs. © James Mudge

As a trained architect, I feel that James Mudge has been successful in instilling an architectural essence in his furniture design work. He has understood that architecture is about space and people. One senses that his work performs well in creating a positive relationship between the space and it’s users, whilst celebrating the beauty of everyday life and ceremony. Working with solid wood, and specializing in contemporary dining room tables, the studio prides itself on creating work which interprets traditional furniture pieces and traditional methods of building design. The Brass Top table is a great example of this. What I found most amazing about this table and James Mudge’s work though, is how it communicates a sense of place. One can almost feel the atmosphere and magic of the Knysna area, where James Mudge himself grew up, and learned his craft. This in itself is a great architectural feat.

1Mogamma – A Painting in 4 Parts by Julie Mehretu

Mogamma. © Julie Mehretu

The work of Julie Mehretu is greatly inspiring to me in it’s reference to architecture, mapping and use of very large scale. In a way, her portfolio proves that the creation of architecture need not take the form of a building only. Mehretu’s compositions are architecture in themselves, in my opinion. Her artworks are visual narratives alluding to global interconnectivity, geopolitics, social networks and urban-planning, and the monumental presence they have in installation I feel adds a layer to the power with which they communicate their message. In her work, Mogamma – a painting in 4 parts, Mehretu employs the idea of a series of artworks working together to describe a singular narrative. Much like a family of buildings creating an overall space, this series of paintings speaks about the architecture of the public square, and it’s inherent political significance as an urban typology. Her artworks are like cities – layered, exquisite, and dense with meaning.