Your website features the slogan “designing between functional needs and existential requirements”, what does this mean in practice?
It consists of positioning the Person at the centre, with their primary needs and desire for beauty. I always experience a certain degree of dissatisfaction when developing a project, I’m always on the look-out for that perfect detail, and think that my best work will be the next one. Sometimes it takes me an entire day just to choose the colour of a curtain, and I reflect on the relationship with time and whether it is right to dedicate so much time to a curtain, however a detail can influence the mood of those who inhabit the interior.
While it is probable that absolute beauty does not exist, are you able to create a subjective, bespoke beauty for single customers?
I think I have to say no, the most successful projects are those in which a relationship develops between customer and designer. I try to select customers with whom I work, ascertaining the existence of a common aesthetic vision. When I met the owner of the Fraser Suites, I was told “I want to keep spending to a minimum. You go ahead and create a nice concept and I’ll buy furniture in the east”. I invited the customer to Salone del Mobile, I took him to some company showrooms, he saw the difference between an original and a copy, he acquired first-hand experience of production processes: this transformed his level of perception. The same can be said for the Fraser Trump, Pune: Gia Pirolo, Ivanka Trump’s person of reference, didn’t even know what Salone del Mobile was, now she never misses a single edition. Italy is home to a a unique design system, there are lifestyle changes every single year, communication is refined, starting from how products are photographed. It is extremely difficult to copy all this, attempts are made, but the slightest divergence results in profound disappointment. Milan is unique and untouchable.
You are also working on the master plan for a big project in Saudi Arabia, how is that going?
It’s working, the concept is about taking a villa and multiplying it thousands of times, while at the same time conferring an overall harmony which triumphs repetitiveness. We have chosen to create modular façades, like in Medieval times, enabling architectural irregularity to confer movement upon the landscape. Local partners are fundamental in such projects, we are working with Sak Consulting in Jeddah.
Not all project developers qualify their services with the FF&E acronym (Furniture, Fixture & Equipment), however you specify this clearly.
The concept of interior design is inextricably bound with construction, we follow each project from beginning to end, it is costly, we must prepare technical drawings with extremely precise specifications: detail ward off free interpretation by local contractors. For Fraser Suites, Giuseppe Nigro lived in Doha for two years, during which time he coordinated works and suppliers. The end result is a project which is unique in many respects, not least because it is located in Qatar, a nation cut off from international communities, without any flights to or from Dubai. In spite of all this, the hotel is always fully booked, there has never been such a hotel in Doha, those who experience it always return.
From project to product, what does the present and future hold in store for Natevo?
Natevo was inspired by the idea to integrate light inside furniture, there are no technical lights at apartments we built at City Life, everything is integrated in furniture, the project was a success, we have also been commissioned works abroad (Canada), but this wasn’t enough. We felt the need to make Natevo grow, as an expression of Flou for the living area. This is an extremely interesting concept, especially if compared to the choices of important northern European companies (although some are shifting towards this direction, Vitra for example), where a single design piece is the centre of the set, because with Natevo we have a veritable Italian lifestyle project.
What does it mean to work on projects with Molteni and Lema?
Lema and Molteni, in addition to their meticulousness in the construction of products, also have the capacity to support large projects, in virtue of their significant production capacity. They know how to develop products, perhaps using materials different from originally specified ones, while remaining true to design and satisfying customer needs and budgets. Perhaps the characteristic which makes the biggest difference when working with them on large projects (Fraser Suites are all by Molteni), is the management they provide, and how they are able to resolve any problems which arise, in real-time.
Any upcoming projects and products?
Five years ago we first started collaborating for Trump New Delhi (4 years), we have an important project with Qatar Airways. As regards products, at Salone we will be presenting a new a new system of doors for Selecta of Lema, a library table for Molteni, we’ve integrated Natevo Flou with new accessories, and we have designed a new seating collection for Tonon.