I’ll admit, old-school white marble sculptures never really grabbed me – until I encountered Massimiliano Pelletti’s work. This Italian maestro takes classical statues and cranks up the intensity, celebrating their imperfections while paying a respectful nod to tradition. I saw his sculptures at the Bowman Sculpture Gallery in Mayfair, his first UK solo exhibition of this contemporary Italian sculptor thanks to curator extraordinaire Mica Bowman.
Massimiliano Pelletti’s work got me thinking. Branding is a form of art and creative expression, just like sculpture is. So, why not look directly to this 40,000 year old form of art for cues on how to better brand?
Take “Pink Eros” for example, a portrayal of the god of love. It features a typically smooth carving interrupted by a jagged midsection and shoulder. In two other captivating “Venus” pieces, I saw Pelletti masterfully combine stone segments in herringbone, pixelated, and striped patterns, seamlessly merging ancient subject matter with a modern aesthetic.
When we look at brands that have successfully combined the old with the new, Nike’s Air Jordan line stands out. Launched in 1984 with basketball legend Michael Jordan, these sneakers seamlessly fuse classic design elements with modern technology. Each release pays homage to its heritage while incorporating the latest advancements in sneaker construction.
Similarly, Burberry has found success in reinvigorating its iconic check pattern. Dating back to the early 1920s, the pattern has been modernized in various colors and incorporated into contemporary designs, appealing to both traditionalists and those seeking a fresh take on fashion. The brand’s trench coats, a cornerstone since the early 20th century, have been updated with modern cuts and materials while paying homage to the original design, proving that heritage can be seamlessly woven into the present.
And let’s not forget Harley-Davidson, an emblem of classic design aesthetics. The distinctive V-twin engine, teardrop fuel tanks, and chrome accents remain synonymous with the brand, even as they introduce modern improvements in performance and technology. The release of special edition models and heritage-inspired bikes further emphasizes Harley-Davidson’s commitment to its legacy, evoking nostalgia and resonating with enthusiasts who appreciate the brand’s history.
And the numbers don’t lie. The global vintage clothing market was valued at approximately 24.31 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, illustrating a significant consumer interest in retro fashion trends often amplified and celebrated across social media platforms. Additionally, the retro gaming market is projected to reach $46.56 billion by 2026, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.4% from 2021 to 2026, demonstrating substantial growth in consumer demand for retro gaming experiences—a trend frequently discussed and shared in gaming communities on various social platforms. These trends, in my view, affirm that consumers gravitate towards products and branding that seamlessly blend elements from the past with modern innovation, a sentiment frequently expressed and celebrated in online conversations.
Massimiliano Pelletti’s groundbreaking approach to sculpture is a powerful nudge for branding leaders to draw from the past. Timeless ideals of beauty, balance, and proportion persist through the ages. I was undeniably captivated.
Yet, Pelletti’s work does more. It fearlessly melds classical beauty with the organic imperfections of natural materials, birthing something entirely fresh and extraordinary. This juxtaposition acts as a dynamic bridge between tradition and innovation, offering an invaluable lesson for branding pioneers.
To maintain relevance in an ever-evolving market, I’ve always said we need to venture beyond convention. Push the boundaries of branding and artistic expression, while respecting the rich artistic legacy of days gone by. Weave together elements from different eras to craft narratives that pay homage to tradition and etch a distinctive mark on both present and future.
Let’s brand boldly, like Massimiliano Pelletti sculpts—melding the echoes of the past with the pulse of the present, crafting stories that resonate across time – don’t you think?
Named Esquire’s Influencer Of The Year, Jeetendr Sehdev is a media personality, international speaker and the author of the New York Times bestselling sensation, The Kim Kardashian Principle: Why Shameless Sells (and How to Do It Right.)