Musical instruments have always combined the beauty of notes with the beauty of our movements. This selection presents new ways to see the relationship between the musician and his instrument through original researches. Inspired to ergonomic principles and made of ancient as well as of modern materials, these instruments enchant, amuse and fascinate us through music.
Alessandro Corbella [advice: Marco Pallottino]
2009 – Prototype – ISIA Roma
Traditionally, classical musical instruments are usually protected by a case which becomes their home when they are at rest or being transported. Here, the designer’s idea is to integrate these two sides of the object into a hybrid whole that combines the housing and instrument. The result is an instrument at once both minimal and elegant: a seemingly classic black case with metal clasps which can be played, via knobs on the casing, in an immediate and intuitive way. Even the sound is a composite, as it couples the sound of a stringed instrument to the potential of a percussive performance. The object is also a reflection on a movement away from stereotypical industrial mass production, and a return to craftsmanship and artisan values.
2012 – Prototype
Tingle is a new instrument which is used to teach students about music by harnessing their instinct and playfulness. Looking more like a relic of 1970 or 80s games that a real instrument, it is a converted pin-board toy that is used to demonstrate the forming of music and sound.
The 3D landscape, created by whatever is underneath the board, is used to generate a “metaphoric musical landscape”.
Tingle is a visual representative for sound and makes it easier for students of all ages to three dimensionally link their actions to the created sounds.
2008 – Prototype
Like many classical instruments the violin has retained an unaltered form over time, so the challenge was to create a 21st century version by innovating on a form unchanged for centuries, and to move away from the dominant baroque aesthetic. Inspiration came from fields outside of music, drawing from the contours of the female body but also contemporary yacht design and fashion. Gerda’s design not only preserves the authentic sound of a traditional violin but it is incredibly light – weighing less than a pound – thanks to a carbon fibre and wood body.
Alessandro Mendini with M. Christina Hamel [advice: Luca Di Volo, Davide Mosconi]
 1993 – Alessi
The lake area around Omegna is historically one of Italy’s best known metalworking zones and Alessi was founded there, manufacturing kitchen utensils as well as saxophone parts. This instrument is both an homage to Giovanni Alessi, founder of the famous company, and the local tradition of brass instrument manufacture. In 1988, Alberto Alessi, in honor of this craft tradition, asked Alessandro Mendini to come up with an innovative take on traditional saxophone design. By careful gestural study and professional consultation, the designer created a wonderful instrument both aesthetically and ergonomically, with an ease of playing uncommon in traditional instruments due to it’s different key layout.
The instrument proves that expert craftsmanship is a guarantee of high quality in a market so often flooded with low quality industrial production.
2006 – NoahguitArs
The shape of this revolutionary guitar is based on a musician’s gestures, even if they are sometimes a little theatrical. Lorenzo Palmeri designed the instrument in collaboration with Noah, a company specializing in aluminium bodied electric guitars, and gave it an unusual eye shaped handle that makes it easier to hold and carry. The tremolo arm (the Slapster) is placed at the base of the strings, and can be used to distort the guitar’s sound by pressure from the elbow or hand, thus heightening the visual impact. The almost mirrored reflective surface is chosen to create a play of reflections. The much acclaimed instrument was used most notably by Lou Reed, who chose it for a world tour.
Flavia Ruvidi [advice: Marco Pallottino]
2009 – Prototipo – ISIA Roma
This xylophone-vibraphone is the result of a study based on dichotomies. Its sounds are at once harmonic and contradictory; its metal pipes create very long high-pitched oscillating sounds while the strings vibration produces shorter and lower tones. This combined modulation creates a distinct musicality. Young designer Flavia Ruvidi’s core aim was portability, based on her personal love of street art and music. She has worked to imbue this instrument with the spirit that characterises these particular forms of expression, resulting in a sound suited for improvised performances rather than recreating original scores.
To date, the only ones able to create music by just moving their hands are orchestral conductors. Now, Air Piano’s innovative gesture technology allows anyone to create musical magic.
It boils down to a musical interface that lets you play instruments or control software simply by moving your hands in the air.
Through MIDI technology and 8 infrared proximity sensors the instrument is able to follow hand movements and translate them into music. Playing an instrument becomes something much more intuitive and free, opening music to new and unexplored frontiers.