TEN: BEYOND THE BEETLE
By Matthew Demarco
Creative director Matthew Demarco has produced the exhibition signage to commemorate the Beetle’s anniversary. Created with a reverse glass-gilding technique and several layers of gold leaf, ‘TEN’ is a square, framed 85x85 cm sign referencing the traditional Maltese typography and signage seen in the city of Valletta.
“In Malta’s baroque capital city, Valletta, the traditional shop façades have been preserved for centuries. Amid the hustle and bustle of the city’s life, one is treated to the sight of beautiful typography adorning old signage that was excellently crafted by carpenters and gilders to create glistening lettering which reflects the Mediterranean sun. The craftsmanship of each shop sign has parallels with the layers of craftsmanship and specialization that go into the creation of each one of GUBI’s Beetle Chairs.
I studied the typography featured on the shop sign of City Jewellery in St. Lucia’s Street and designed a piece of work which celebrates the ten years of GUBI’s Beetle Chair, while drawing inspiration from the typography which Maltatype has been documenting for ten years. Just as the original signage makers would have done, I brought a local gilder, Josie Bugelli, on board to represent the typography in gold leaf, using different gilding techniques to add visual intricacy to the type.”
– Matthew Demarco
CREATIVE DIRECTOR, MALTA
Maltese graphic designer Matthew Demarco started Maltatype with fellow graphic design student Ed Dingli in 2013. The typography documentation project is a response to the increasing disappearance of beautiful, handcrafted shop signage adorned with custom- drawn typography, which has been brought about by the gentrification of Malta, and Valletta in particular. Demarco now keeps the Maltatype website and Instagram page active while running the branding and design studio Bloom Creative, which he co-founded in 2016. Maltatype’s research into local type and lettering serves as inspiration for the creation of brands which fit in with Malta’s visual language. Demarco lives in Birkirkara, Malta, with his wife Emma and son Sam.
“Matthew Demarco turns his Maltese origins into a creative language in which fleeting memories, reclaimed objects, and a personal obsession with typography have become fundamental ingredients. It is not a case of nostalgia; it is a private mission fueled by a passion for fonts and lettering that only partially trigger memories because they immediately begin to write new stories.”
- Marco Sammicheli, curator, TEN: Beyond the Beetle
TEN: BEYOND THE BEETLE
GUBI SALONE 2023’s landmark exhibition showcases 10 creative responses to a modern design icon.
In ‘Scarabesque’, artist and designer Adam Nathaniel Furman has accentuated the form of the Beetle and used color and pattern to transform the chair into a fabulous throne, suggesting new contexts for the design, from the club to a fairytale musical.
In the ‘Oca Chair’, fashion designer Arthur Arbesser pays homage to the late master of Italian design, Enzo Mari. Arbesser has transformed the seat and backrest of the Beetle into the snapping bill of a goose, while the base references Mari’s cement panettone dispersed all over the Milan cityscape.
FRESHENING UP THE PALACE
‘Freshening Up the Palace’ by visual artist and ceramicist Daphne Christoforou is a hand-crafted amphora decorated with underglaze, decals, overglaze and gold luster. Inspired by Ancient Greek pottery, the vessel depicts a mythical scene in which GamFratesi introduces the Beetle to the gods of Olympus.
REAL BEETLE IN EPOXY
In ‘Real Beetle in Epoxy’, artist Frank Maria reinterprets the Beetle as an archaeological sculpture encrusted with mineral sediments and adorned with original tattoo designs and microlandscapes.
In ‘Metamorfosi’ sound designer Painé Cuadrelli has created an immersive audiovisual installation that turns human soundbites, hard percussion, and natural sounds into a melodic composition that depicts the birth and evolution of the Beetle, from pupa to beautifully developed creature.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEATING
‘A Brief History of Seating’ is a series of ten original ink drawings by graphic designer and illustrator Martin Groch, composing a narrative that positions the Beetle in the context of its most illustrious predecessors, icons of international design.
Creative director Matthew Demarco has produced the exhibition signage to commemorate the Beetle’s anniversary.
Architect Rachaporn Choochuey’s interpretation of the Beetle is inspired by the climate, traditions, and culture of Asia. Her installation, ‘Flying Beetles’, is rooted in the relationship between exterior and interior, and takes inspiration from Thai street culture, markets, and openair seating, with reference to the winged insects found in Thailand’s national parks.
Fashion designer Simon Wick offers up a ‘(di)ssected Beetle’. The deconstructed seat is reassembled with layers of GUBI’s surplus textiles and upholstery offcuts, as well as packaging materials such as cardboard and plastic.