He’s an artist, a sculptor, and the owner of the design agency, GlocalDesign. His CV covers every conceivable context in which man can express his creativity—but far from being a “jack of all trades,” Basso is highly skilled in each of them. He’s also the creator of landmark stainless steel sculptures whose reflective surfaces fascinate and mesmerize tens of thousands of people who pass them every year. (Clues: look out for them at an alpine UNESCO World Heritage site, an Italian town square, and a corporate headquarters in Atlanta, U.S.A.) To crown it all, his conversation revealed him to be something of a poet, too.
I’ve always been creative and a lover of art, but it took me a long time to discover my talent. I have a degree in economics from the U.S. and Italy, but art always dominated. It has been an amazing journey—fashion, the automotive industry, design, communication—but I’ve reached a point where I’m now fully aware of my artistic identity. Today, I use my art to try to make people think about beauty as a requirement for better living. That's why I’m passionate about mirrored surfaces: my mirror artworks are reflections on the contemporary world—thoughts we can finish off with our own meaning.
Training is essential in any discipline. Without dedication, passion and research, even the greatest talent gets diluted and then fades away with time. Training is a concentration of energy in a specific direction that leads us to discover what lies beyond. It provides a source of satisfaction that goes beyond the outcome itself. Those who neglect training end up placing their trust in luck; those who train are ready to seize opportunities. This is the root of success.
Every experience is formative if we live it with intensity and passion. Having the opportunity to work with the Versace family taught me a lot—not only Gianni, whose talent was indescribable, but also with Dr. Santo, whose integrity and discipline I admire. Unfortunately I don’t know Donatella—at the time she wasn’t at the company much. That period took me to the U.S., New York, London and Paris. My journey in the world of fashion, which gives identity to people through their clothes, took me to car design, where the dress is the car, then to furnishings and accessories, and then into pure communication. I was simply continuing to study how the individual expresses their identity via the objects they buy, how trends influence us, and how we, in turn, influence society.
Exposing yourself to people’s judgment is sometimes painful. However, to live a life full of satisfaction in any field you must challenge people to believe in what you’re doing. At one level it’s easy: you just have to commit and give the best of yourself; after that, it’s the ability to be honest with yourself that enables you to learn from criticism and improve. My art celebrates change—the only constant in life is that we’re always changing; experiences and achievements are the basis for everything that follows. If we stop, we're dead!
I believe my greatest achievements are my ethical vision and my social art. These have their roots in the classical world, where art had the important function of communicating universal values through symbols with which individuals and society could identify. Today, contemporary art is often cryptic and self-referential, no longer searching for beauty and often not even reflecting the aesthetics of our times. People have lost confidence in the usefulness of art, which is unfortunate.
Traditionally, our culture is qualitative, but science and technology have taught us to evaluate life in terms of numbers—how much it costs, how much is to be gained, how long it took to make an artwork. We need to re-educate ourselves on beauty and passion, and reconnect with instinct, fear and love, and not lose our humanity and our wonderment. What we need are wings! We have to fly high in our emotions and our dreams in order to imagine a better world, and then help make it happen every day. This is the ethical significance of art for me. It’s like a beautiful revolution.
I’m fascinated by mirror surfaces as a means of reflecting messages. Through our reflection, we get an opportunity to become protagonists in that work of art. My artworks are evolutionary steps in my work. They each investigate different aspects, and I’m proud of them for different reasons. Aquamantio was made in Biella, my home city, to commemorate MOSCA1916, a historic store that wanted to mark its anniversary by donating an outstanding landmark to the city. The Coca Cola Company commissioned Coke It's Me for the 100th anniversary of its iconic Contour bottle—it brought my work to international prominence. It was exhibited at Expo Milano and is now on display at the World of Coca Cola in Atlanta. I made Gigant to mark the 30th anniversary of the 2015 Ski World Cup in Alta Badia in the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage site; it’s a symbol that brings people together to celebrate greatness. These are just three examples, but I could continue. Each spurs me on to do even better.
It’s impossible to say when I actually discovered Swarovski, but the first time I was asked to work with their crystals was 2011 when I made the ten artworks for the Maison Mila Schön. It was a success—not just the result, but also our collaboration and the quality of the project. Since then, there’s been the Ski World Cup Alta Badia and the 2017 Casa Sanremo Award at the 67th Sanremo Festival, which has just ended. Artworks that are enriched by Swarovski crystals become poetry that celebrates man, who, through sport, for example, continually explores and strives to exceed his limits to attain a better future. It’s always a pleasure to explore new emotions together.
In my field of art, I am subject to too many variables, so I have a lot of projects on the go that often last years, but don’t necessarily come to anything. So I prefer to wait for a concrete outcome rather than say too much. But I must confess to one desire: to develop a figure made of Swarovski crystal. It would be a wonderful challenge to work with crystal in this way. Who knows if there will be an opportunity, but dreaming never hurt!