ITALIAN ARCHITECT AND FURNITURE DESIGNER
I was a child when I decided I wanted to be an architect. I don’t know why because no one in my family was an architect before me. In Italy, to be an architect, it is like being a bit of a renaissance man, you have to be able to design architecture, you have to be able to design interiors, you have to be able to design furniture and you have to be able to design graphics. There is this holistic approach to design, you do not focus on one discipline like designing buildings or furniture – you do it all. Deciding which field I like better is like deciding on your favourite child. It is impossible for me to decide which is better than the other one.
As a very young architect, Boffi [an Italian kitchen, bathroom and furniture brand] chose me as their art director. I was a very young art director, I did not have much knowledge or capacity or experience but they chose me. Still, after 30 years, I don’t know why. It was a gamble by them.
I was super-scared at the time. I still continue to be scared to this day. Every time, when we are discussing a new project, I am always scared of failure because none of us are secure. I start to doubt everything I do.
The idea that creativity is a solo endeavour is a romantic one but ultimately not true. The idea that you wake up in the morning with a fantastic idea, you are alone, you think and you do – forget it! Most of my professional life, it is day by day discussions, its debate with people and we discuss together, we discover together, we work. If I design a building, I never start with the sketch, it is a discussion. When I design furniture pieces for companies, it also starts with a discussion.
We have a lot of projects worldwide. My firm has projects in Japan, in Korea, in China, in Hong Kong, in Singapore, in Russia, in the Emirates, in Europe, in the United States ... I could keep going! It is private houses, residential buildings, hotels, factories, furniture; many different types of work.
I never work for somebody if I don’t like them. I have to like the people. If I don’t like the clients, they are not for me because in the end we share an experience and share my life. I don’t like to share my life with someone that I don’t feel good with.
There are no projects that I like the most because to be completely honest, I hate all of my projects. Everything; design, architecture, I would like to destroy everything, to compel everything to disappear. All of them, for me, are wrong. It is probably because I have high expectations and I am scared and afraid because I am not so secure. I always try to improve, to change designs. Luckily my clients are smarter and more intelligent than me. After a few changes, they say that is enough, finished, it is fine, we don’t change it again.
When you design objects you have to be in touch so you can change and remodel the prototypes. This happens a lot during the process. So I do exactly the same when it comes to architecture but architecture is more complex. We start with modelling, electronically, then with small scale and we make a lot of changes. But when we start to build something, you cannot change the structure because it is in stainless steel or concrete, it is not considered a good idea. It is better for me at this point in the process, to be far, far away.
I am a visitor to Australia. I am here because [design retailer] Rogerseller invited me for a few speeches and my firm Lissoni and Associates are also looking at some developments in Melbourne and in Sydney. It is full of possibilities here and there is taste for modern design and architecture. It is very openminded. We are discussing lots of new projects.
I think the local architecture is very good. It’s become an interesting intellectual movement to be an architect here. Australian architect Glenn Murcutt won the Pritzker Prize many years ago [in 2002] and he is considered one of the most influential masters of architecture of the last century.