How would you describe your professional relationship?
We have worked together for over 30 years. We are unable to see ourselves as architects tout court. Our line of thought is more similar to that of a visual artist. Since 1997 I have been managing the Design Department (Doriana, ed.note) which was set up at the time of our first interior design projects. So, I mainly handle interiors and object design while Massimiliano is more projected towards large scale projects.
You were featured in an exhibition entitled Where the architects live, during the Salone del Mobile in Milan: an installation that set out to discover the homes of those who determine the shape of ours; one of those illustrated was your Parisian apartment. What is your home like?
Wherever we live, not only in Paris, is conceived as an open plan space, with small bedrooms and utility rooms to meet our current needs. They reflect the passage of time. Needs inevitably change and so it is necessary to rethink the living theme.
What are your guidelines in an interior design project?
On-going evolution, associated with research into new forms and materials, as well as colours and atmospheres. A constant element is the relationship with art and the dialogue with artists, which is often an unconscious one. Opportunities for different creative sensibilities to come together and interrelate. Above all, we like to take on challenges. All materials have potential, you just have to understand how to get the most out of them. Often the desire to go back to the drawing board stems from a feeling of dissatisfaction or a lack of coherency resulting from the fact that one’s projects have to make recourse of course to all the elements comprised in the ambit of interior design. The consistency between a handle and an aperture, or between the organization of an office space and its need for tables and chairs turns into a sort of mysterious attraction that leads the architect to be concerned with small objects. But the working method is the same, whether we are engaged in designing a building or a furnishing accessory.
In your opinion, at what stage in the history of design are we now?
Design autonomy has now gone beyond the limits it had set itself for penetrating sectors and horizons compatible with more complex forms of life. Italian design in particular, despite market globalization, has always maintained a close bond with craftsmanship and local traditions, with an eye towards future prospects. Tradition, innovation and great refinement are fundamental components. The architect and the designer handle quite different things, or so it would seem. Today, we have almost arrived at a sort of hybrid creative figure, one which passes from large scale to small scale and vice versa. If we look ahead, we can perceive a return to increasingly specialized skills. In other words, it will be a society that tends to simplify, in order not to face innovation and globalization, by using different tools from those of the past. In any case, there will always be a desire to measure our universe with a yardstick in both millimetres and kilometres.
From the trade fair pole of Milan to Armani Stores, from the Public Service Hall of Tbilisi to the new Shenzhen airport. What is the design signature of your great projects?
An architectural work, to be successful, always has to be an element of synthesis. A cultural synthesis in the broadest sense, in the widest and most complete sense of the word “culture”. If we think of a contemporary city, an ungoverned archipelago of irregular constructions comes to mind. The introduction of something that is uncompromising and unashamedly geometrical is equivalent to interrupting that spontaneous rhythm.