JCP Universe is the brainchild of Italian architect Livio Ballabio and was born out of a radical think tank held in Milan in 2015. Ballabio studied at the Politecnico di Milano under Raffaella Crespi, graduating with a degree in Industrial Design. The artistic direction of JCP Universe is in the hands of hybrid design studio CTRLZAK, led by Italian-Greek artist-designers Katia Meneghini and Thanos Zakopoulos. Other designers contributing to the JCP universe include Richard Hutten, Sam Baron, Alessandro Zambelli, Emanuele Magini, Nanda Vigo and Matteo Cibic.
JCP Universe is an eclectic brand that aims to change the design status quo through a wide-ranging practice and its fusion of art and design. The brand not only produces furniture and other design objects but is engaged in shaping culture more broadly - staging performance events at the CRT Milano Teatro dell’Arte as part of the Milan Triennale, as well as producing art videos and designing printed artworks. Pieces like the KRYPTAL Table Lamp (2017), which bring together a rough lava stone base with matte brass and glass fittings; the ANTIVOL Side Table (2017), which also incorporates raw lava stone; or some of the recent printed works by Susami Creative for JCP Universe capture the brand’s penchant for a kind of apocalyptic chic aesthetic that pushes the futuristic and primordial so far that they fold back around and collide. The RONE Floor Lamp (2017) by Richard Hutten for JCP Universe riffs off retro robots, giving them a humorously minimal, forward-looking aspect, while even the PERFLECT Display Cabinet (2017) by Sam Baron for JCP reiterates the futuristic vibe, albeit in a more restrained variant.
Based outside of Milan, JCP Universe’s mission is to speculate on and, indeed, to create the future of design. This does not mean abandoning the traditional quality standards of the region, though, and most of JCP Universe’s collection is produced with expert artisans in northern Italy. The brand works predominantly with private clients, but its work was recently honored when it was shortlisted for the Milan Design Award for JCP Universe’s Ten Secret Treasures exhibition during the Fuorisalone 2016.