“In a scenario full of contaminations, in which many interior designers and decorators also express themselves in terms of products, we start with one basic imperative: to have expertise in pure industrial design, as a coherent vocation.” This is the premise behind the work of Sandro Meneghello and Marco Paolelli, founders (in 2006) of Meneghello Paolelli Associati. A way of thinking that actually reflects an attitude of humility, tackling every project in terms of discovery, study and in-depth knowledge.
Their first products date back to 2005, when normally enough they had still not found their specific path, and were “doing a bit of everything,” from product design to interiors to communication. Today they prefer to operated using a light, modern vertical structure: “We collaborate with professionals we consider more effective than we are in specific fields. To be honest, we don’t believe in multidisciplinary studios: the true solution is teamwork. For about a year and a half now we have been working on projects we define as mini-contract (10-20 rooms) through partnerships,” Marco Paolelli explains.
The first ‘sliding door’ is called La Fontana, a bathroom system: “We are particularly fond of this project because it allowed us to learn about and to enter the world of design through the front door, as actors rather than extras. Overnight we began to appear in magazines, and we became aware of what we wanted to do, and to be,” Sandro Meneghello and Marco Paolelli recall.
Over the years the approach has changed, along with the relationship with companies. But the goal has remained the same: to use design to respond to requests, providing coherent solutions for specific client necessities.
A method that has led to studio to explore various sectors like bath fixtures, furniture and outdoor, always with an accent on three fundamental keywords: lateral thinking, drawing on different fields, decoration (3D texturing) that leads to the passage from two to three dimensions (“Les Arcs and Re Wood represent pure decoration”), and innovation, of both design and production, constantly based on past experiences: “We’re like whisky: the more we age, the more we take on awareness and consistency, understanding our strong and weak points,” Marco Paolelli says. All while conserving the values and identity of the brands with which they work.
Good designers are the enemies of monotony: “At first we focused on bath furnishings – says Sandro Meneghello – a field that has brought good results, including the insertion in the Antoniolupi catalogue of a project that was the direct evolution of Marco’s degree thesis) done with Roberto Palomba.
From there, we have branched out, into outdoor furnishings, for example, a sector that has seen a true revolution in recent years, and has received lots of attention. You have to obey very strict rules, and out of ten ideas we might select just one. Just consider the fact that the materials have to undergo very demanding testing for certification.”
One of the latest creations of the duo is precisely in the outdoor sector. It is a seating system created for Emu, a company that specializes in working with metal, and wanted to experiment with wood in an original way. A sandwich of two layers of bamboo placed around a screen permits the wooden panels to extend like fabric over the tubular aluminium structure.
Designers have to bring ‘added value’ to a product like Re Wood or a die-cast radiator placed on the market at an affordable price. Versatility and blurring boundaries enable the studio to shift from the world of furniture to that of industrial design (collaborations with Radiatori 2000, Gibus and Alf Da Fré).
Without overlooking the work with Nobili, including the creation last year of Lamp, a faucet based on “a simple gesture that gives meaning to the product and permits an additional 20 cm of length.”
What about the future? Sandro Meneghello: “We have touched on many aspects of design, but almost all linked to the world of architecture, the space that surrounds us. It would be interesting to work on something that is not constrained by space, but can be held in the hand.” Marco Paolelli already has the next challenge in mind: “To approach a troublesome territory, that of two-dimensional things, such as carpets.”
In the meantime, the two will be protagonists of the new collection of facings for Ceramiche Bardelli that will be presented at the upcoming Cersaie. “For 10 years we have avoided this field, because we were frightened by its accent on two-dimensional design – says Marco Paolelli. – But in the end we are pleased: we have managed to find an output.” The studio Meneghello Paolelli has no shortage of courage and determination: in the end, they always find the right path.