In a world overshadowed by censorship, projects like this take part of the sexual and gender revolution we are living nowadays. Nicolò Bagnati is an architect and photographer from London that reveals himself to the pre-established and socially accepted and speaks out about BDSM practices through Tender, a production that started from a collaboration with Nick Knight and Mastered, with the proper preciousness of a fashion film. Plastic ropes, suggestive liquids and soft clothes, the video speaks for itself, but we wanted to know more about the concept behind it and how an architect ends up turning a model into a tea table.
Hi Nicoló, make us a sneak peek of yourself, who is Nicoló Bagnati? 
I’m fascinated with image and beauty, and with whatever that may mean. I’ve always been. The way shapes, textures and light can deliver certain feelings. As Georgia O’Keeffe once said: “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way —things I had no words for”. I studied architecture in Milan, London and Buenos Aires. I worked for a couple of big firms, then at C-Lab, an architecture research department at Columbia University. But I constantly felt that something was missing, people were missing. So I took more and more interest in photography to the point that I quit at Columbia to steer all my attention to image making. Photography really gives me the chance to connect with people, to explore them, and I think that the most interesting thing one person could do is to play with light, shapes, textures and colours while interacting with people.
So which is the main aim of this project?
In everyday life we are forced to confront ourselves with labels society puts on behaviours, on people. If you steal, you are a thief, if you have homosexual sex, you are gay, if you do something good, you are a good person, if you practice bondage, you are a pervert. But it’s not like that, we are far more complex than that. We simply are. Different, everyone. Everyone is a unique cocktail of experiences that label will never be able to describe. In this I see beauty. In the complex, in the different. I talked about this beauty through a practice, a more and more common one, bondage. I decided to give it a homemade look by not using the professional equipment, but through everyday objects, to show it’s normality. I talked about the dignity that comes with it and the happiness and pleasure that comes with the liberation from labels.
“If you steal, you are a thief. If you practice bondage, you are a pervert. It's not like that, we simply are. Different, everyone.”
You say you talk about different practices of BDSM. Could you explain which ones, how and why?
The video spaces from Shibari, which is the Japanese art of tying up people, to Forniphilia, acting as forniture as a mean of sexual arousal. Erotic asphyxiation, fisting, and in general, bondage. Bondage is a very wide practice. We all do and enjoy bondage at different levels. I guess the most basic form of it it’s a nice hug or a firm handshake. I got rid of the aesthetic language that usually goes with BDSM, because I don’t particularly like it and I think it could have been misleading. The idea is to show that every practice, as much as it can look strange, can also be very normal and enjoyable.
Which meaning has the cheek retractor in this video?
Mouth gag.
Why did you chose to shot girls and not guys?
I guess it’s the fact that the male body changes during sexual activities. I wanted to keep the mood playful with some ambiguity, but without censorship or fakeness. Therefore a male body could have been too explicit, not much as sexually explicit, more like lack of ambiguity explicit. Also, I was looking for people interested in being part of this project and Lauren Groves —the stylist I’ve worked with— found Isabel and Devin, and we all got along quite well.
“We all do and enjoy bondage at different levels. I guess the most basic form of it it’s a nice hug or a firm handshake.”
What do you think about virtual media censorship?
I’m against censorship. I think that even when something is deplorable, it should be allowed to have a voice. I think culture and education should help people to draw a line between what is acceptable and what is not, it shouldn’t be imposed from above. Society should impose more culture and education, not more censorship —especially when the only censorship we get is on sex and nudity. In a society that puts a lot of limitations on personal freedom and behaviours, sex can be a playful way to release some stress. On social media censorship is the same, but it’s not even in the name of some common good, but rather of wide likeability and profit.
Do you have any similar projects in mind?
Not about BDSM, but sexuality it’s such a wide topic that I’m sure I’ll do something related to it in the future. Besides, there’s no such thing as a gender free interaction.
“Society should impose more culture and education, not more censorship.”
Nicolo Bagnati Tender Metalmagazine 2.jpg