"Déesse": from car icon to limited edition design handle
From an iconic car, symbol of the years of great creativity of Citroën and its stylist (from Varese) Flaminio Bertoni, to an unsuspected object of common use: a handle, in this case.
Yes, the beautiful shape of the «Goddess», which in the vulgate is improperly called «Shark» (Bertoni actually took his cue from the profile of a normal fish, not from the predator of the seas), will now be used to open and close the doors. The idea comes from Dodo Arslan, an Italian of Armenian origins, listed by Taschen among the 90 most important designers and manufacturers in the world, who lives and works between Italy and Florida.
Flaminio Bertoni said that «inspiration is a particular manifestation that can present itself at all times, it is a spontaneous jet proper to each creator and therefore a gift that makes a creator what he is». From this concept came the spark that made it possible to arrive at the handle through a reworking of the silhouette of the bodywork and the necessary technical-technological steps: the vernissage of the product will take place on Saturday 24 June at 10.30 in Volandia (next to Malpensa T1) , where there is also the museum dedicated to Flaminio Bertoni. «The project – says Arslan – was born following the evening of the Varese Design Week in which I presented my projects for Mandelli 1953 after listening to the incredible story of Bertoni, told by the museum curator. I have always been in love with the magnificent Déesse de la route, as the French called it and still call it today: precisely the Citroen Ds, a name which, pronounced in French, sounds like déesse».
The Dea is a timeless car. After surprising everyone at its appearance (1955 Paris Motor Show), it was a commercial success, served presidents (De Gaulle, thanks to his solidity and unsuspected agility, managed to escape the famous assassination attempt) and people of all rank and age. Today it survives thanks to dedicated clubs and the fact that it has also bewitched the new generations. «My father passed on the passion to me, a mechanical engineer who only owned Citroën: he too was fascinated by the innovation and soul that Bertoni had imprinted on the brand. In particular he was bewitched by the DS, which for Bertoni was a sculpture and a work of art, so much so that he declared on French TV that «the bodywork is a nucleus, a whole that arises in the mind of the coachbuilder, then one begins to ruin that wonderful nucleus to add the wheels, the various contraptions and that horrible thing which is the engine».
Struck by those words, Arslan, having returned from Varese, immediately set about “stripping” the Goddess of everything, except the dress, leaving only the front wheel to her perfect forms. She was turned into the axis of rotation of the handle. «This intuition – continues the designer – was followed by a week of research and drawings. Then, to achieve the proportions in balance between elegance and ergonomics, paper, plasticine, polystyrene and finally wooden models were followed to create the master for casting». Times were very quick to accommodate the enthusiasm of the Bertoni Association and Mandelli. «I worked exclusively by hand, driven by the desire to pay a real tribute to Bertoni and his history as a sculptor-designer. The sculptural approach was suggested to me by the very nature of the handle project, which I believe achieves the most effective result by passing exclusively through the hands. The delicate point was to find a synthesis of the lines of the DS, removing everything possible, without losing the “wonderful nucleus” as Bertoni called it. After the phase of study and sculpture of the volume, several casting tests were needed to arrive at the ideal solution that avoided the shrinkage and imperfections typical of the process and which subsequently allowed to obtain a perfect smoothing and polishing. The last phase of the manufacturing involved the study of the drilling of the seat for the pin, the turning of the same and the assembly».