Plain Tiger Spotlight: Aquatic Creatures

A flight of fancy

By Renee Fortune

Ubiquitous German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche published a book in 1883. It was called, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and although he didn’t know it at the time, it would become one of his most well-read pieces of work outside of academic audiences. 

Just a year earlier, Nietzsche had ruffled the feathers of religious leaders by brazenly declaring that ‘God is dead.’ And then; in a work of philosophical fiction, he brought these words to life through his depiction of Zarathustra, a Person prophet who descended from his hermitage in the mountains to tell the world that God was dead and would be succeeded by a human embodiment of the divine. 

It’s a fascinating read that went on to become a foundational piece of Western literature, still widely read and reviewed in literary circles around the world. 

As the fates would have it

One day, through an act of serendipity or perhaps just pure coincidence, a copy of Thus Spoke Zarathustra ended up in the lap of visual designer and sketch artist, Riccardo Capuzzo. 

His reading of the book set a six-month long creative adventure in motion. Inspired by the idea that art could create worlds, Riccardo set out to create his own one, filled with fantastical beasts who lived in places brought to life by the imagination. As a lover of the marine world, it seemed intuitive to Riccardo that his imaginary world should exist underwater. And that’s where he started.
A vision of something tangible

The animals that came to life at the whim of his pencil, were based on real ocean dwellers – whales, pufferfish, dolphins and manta rays. But theirs was a world of the avant-garde – the home of the eccentric and flamboyant. 

Riccardo spent the better part of a year designing these pieces and at the end of six months, he decided that his art needed to live somewhere in the real world. And so, he translated his artwork into pieces of home decor. 

Why homeware? Well, as Riccardo explains: “if I had been a choreographer, my art would have come to life through dance performances. But I am a designer, so my art came to life through design.”

The brand, fondly named after his mammalian muses, is called Aquatic Creatures. In the collection, you’ll find beautifully designed pieces of homeware – vases and cushions, valet trays and sets of tea cups – each piece an ode to Riccardo’s very own whimsical world. 

Behind the design

Speaking about one of his trademark designs – the Montgolfier fish, Riccardo explains that, “the design speaks to a sense of symbiosis, the interchange between different species. Documentary makers recently discovered that dolphins enjoy the toxin that pufferfish secrete. And that idea inspired me to explore the notion of coexistence and collaboration. 

The design is also a nod to aviation pioneers, the Montgolfier brothers who designed the first hot-air balloon. My art ‘took flight’ at the intersection between these two ideas and the Montgolfier fish was born. For me, it symbolises the coming together of different people, places and ideas, and the interdependence of mankind.”

The Searcus collection of homeware touches on the melancholic, bringing marine life into the setting of a 19th-century circus. The circus was once a container for the extraordinary and the grotesque – a place where ‘circus freaks’ were showcased as oddities to behold. Drawing on the intrigue and mystery that surrounds this antiquated symbol, Riccardo created the Searcus collection to celebrate the interplay between light and darkness. 

Each piece features an illustration that is hand-drawn in pencil and then refined with ink. This artwork is then processed through a high-resolution scanner to capture the design integrity of the artwork as well as its finer details. This scan is then transferred onto pieces of ceramic and textile homeware.

Into the big, wide world

For Riccardo, it was also important that his brand be firmly rooted in a sense of purpose and a connection to the bigger picture. Therefore, through the sale of his design piece, he supports the Whale and Dolphin Conservation – a global charity dedicated to the preservation of some of the sea’s most essential mammals and ecosystems. 

Is his work something that everyone will appreciate? Probably not. But, Riccardo sees beauty in this, and enjoys a sense of freedom in knowing that his work appeals to a very specific, special design taste. 

For these appreciators of all things out-of-the-ordinary, he offers his full creative expression and a chance to own a piece of what inspires designers to do what they do best – create things. 
$86.33 USD