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By Rachel Gallaher

pattern fabric wrapped boxes

Fabrics from the Archiutopia collection, a collaboration between Élitis and Studiopepe.

French fabric and wallpaper company Élitis and Italian design firm Studiopepe have upped the game on an often-overlooked material: outdoor fabric.

With the recent launch of the Archiutopia collection, the two companies embraced poetic inspiration—the name of each design is linked to one of the cities in Italian writer Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities—and architectural language that elevates the humble workhorse, outdoor fabric, to a place of high design.

“In the spirit of these imaginary cities, each design offers a ‘tactile’ meditation on the nature of human experience,” says Chiara Di Pinto, cofounder of Milan-based Studiopepe. “Like Calvino in his stories, we wanted to give life to real architectures, imaginary and fantastic worlds, and to create an experience of ‘tactile’ meditation through the fabrics.”

“We were inspired by architecture and its radical movement,” adds Arianna Lelli Mami, the other half of Studiopepe, “the avant-garde from the ’60s and ’70s that really wanted to change the world and spread a new, a utopic vision of living.”

The Argia (a 3-dimensional, tactile fabric) and Despina fabrics from the Archiutopia collection.

The fabric, which comes in six patterns, has a rich color palette of red, rusty-orange, and raspberry mixed with earthy tones of cream, black, and slate-gray. Patterns range from sharply geometric (Europia’s abstract design draws on buildings and stairs; Zoe is reminiscent of graph paper and a densely packed cityscape) to soft and dreamy (Despina has the quality of quick paintbrush strokes; Bauci is sharper, but still undefined).

It’s not just the look of the fabrics that were important to Studiopepe—the duo wanted them to be a tangible experience as well, and they added 3-dimensional fabric, as seen in the Argia pattern, to the mix.

“Tactility is one of the most important pillars of Archiutopia collection,” says Di Pinto. “We conceived this collection as an outdoor collection that could be used also in the interior.”

“The three-dimensional approach enhances the tactile experience mentioned above,” notes Lelli Mami, “It becomes a sensorial journey that includes sight and touch.”

editorial image of patterned fabric wrapped around boxes in outdoor landscape rocky beach

The collection was shot on the island of Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea.

Released last month along with a sun-soaked photoshoot from Sardinia—an island in the Mediterranean off the west coast of Italy—the fabrics go beyond basic material to tell stories about the human spirit, its need for creativity, and the yearning for exploration that lives within each of us.

“The wild beach [where the shoot took place] was reminiscent of an abstract, almost lunar landscape,” says Di Pinto. “This great contrast between the landscape and the shapes, between uncultivated nature and geometric stiffness—it is once again a language that we wanted to take up from radical architecture, to truly tell the story behind the collection.”


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