The story behind the new stairwell artwork in Soho House Berlin
Soho House artist Francesco Gioacchini explains how childhood games became an inspiration for his witty mural
Thursday 24 November 2022 By Anastasiia Fedorova
Soho House’s global art collection is one of the biggest privately owned assemblages in the world. The House Art series invites you to take a peek inside them, offering a closer look at individual works and collections, and revealing why they’re such an integral part of Soho House. Up next, a new special commission in the stairwell of Soho House Berlin.
At Soho Houses around the globe, art is not only a mere decoration one sees on the walls, but a reflection of the creative community. Apart from an extensive collection of paintings and sculptures, a number of Houses have site-specific commissions that show how art can transform the space. It is also a great opportunity to witness the artistic process: be it Miranda Forrester’s botanical ceiling at Little House Balham or the collaborative mural by Anne Carney Raines and Richard Burton at Brixton Studio, both in south London. This month, we unveiled a new commission by artist Francesco Gioacchini who transformed the stairwell of Soho House Berlin, proving that there is no space too transitory or insignificant for art to shine.
‘The project is a throwback to the school days, to adolescence and youth, when the activities of studying and playing overlapped themselves. When boredom, learning and fooling around blended, and all these things revealed new layers of reality. I wanted to look back at the aesthetics of these memories and bring them to the present,’ Gioacchini explains.
The childhood activities referenced by the artist are noughts and crosses, stamp collecting and Tetris – all well-known remedies for killing time. Based in Berlin, Gioacchini works with drawing and painting, and is currently exploring the nature of personal memory in relation to contemporary aesthetics. The spaceship, for example, is a reference to a German postal stamp he owns and the visual culture of the pre-digital era, the spirit of exploration and discovery. Easily recognisable, the symbols in the work evoke an immediate joyful and emotional response.
Gioacchini admits that working with the space of the stairwell was not always easy: reaching the top of the walls was especially tricky. ‘At the same time, the structure of the space and its architecture have pushed me to find some unusual and creative solutions; I needed to deal with elements that “disturbed” the overall aesthetic (like signs, fire extinguishers and cameras) and some others that triggered interesting solutions,’ he says.
But there were upsides to it, too. ‘The personal human side was the most interesting part. By definition a staircase is a space of constant movement, where people go from one floor to another and, for me, the staircase connected the busiest parts of the House, the club bar and the rooftop, so I literally met hundreds of people.’
Did the members influence the end result? ‘As an artist I usually work alone, in my studio; I have made mural works and projects in public spaces, but I never found myself in a similar situation, having people constantly passing by and looking at your work. This is something incredibly pleasant and stimulating, but at the same time could be tricky, because in some way you have a kind of day-by-day feedback on your ongoing work. I’m glad to say that the positive responses helped me to get on with it, and I definitely got a lot from this project and the people I connected with.’
Francesco Gioacchini’s work is now on display at Soho House Berlin.