PIERO LISSONI

ITAL­IAN AR­CHI­TECT AND FUR­NI­TURE DE­SIGNER

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - Q&A W -

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.

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