Piero Lissoni, a leading Italian architect and designer, is admired for his minimalist style. “Our adventure began, as for all young architects, with a glass of milk with cookies and so many sleepless nights,” he tells
Piero Lissoni is an Italian architect and designer known for his minimalist furniture for many of the world’s most notable design companies. Born in 1956, he graduated from Milan Polytechnic with a degree in Architecture in 1978. In 1986, he founded the architecture and interior design firm Studio Lissoni with Nicoletta Canesi. Piero Lissoni with Lissoni Associati, Lissoni Architettura, Lissoni US and Graph.x continues to design today for a wide range of clients. He is Art Director for Alpi, Boffi, De Padova, Lema, Living Divani, Lualdi and Porro. Among his recent commissions is The Oberoi Al Zorah Beach Resortin Ajman, UAE. This is a luxury property with waterfront living that includes a hotel, private villas, restaurants, a spa, swimming pools and a private beach.
Excerpts from an exclusive interview for Prestige Lifestyle:
HOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR TALENT AND PASSION FOR DESIGN? Luck! I could never have known my career would have been so lucky when I started. Since I was a child, I had always wanted to become an architect. You become one because you desire it, because building and creating is your passion. Some children want to become pilots, others firefighters, others astronauts. I wanted instead to be an architect.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO STUDY ARCHITECTURE? I studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, before the creation of the new faculty of design, when architecture was taught through the changes of perspective, ranging from the scale of large buildings to that of small spaces, up to studying what is put inside them. And
there, the job of a designer begins. I don’t feel myself to be a designer. I’m an architect who also manages design.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE? Some have defined my style as minimal. That’s fine, it could have been worse! Others have decided that I design very simple things. Others that my creations are elegant. I identify myself in all these definitions. My signature style is all three of these things: minimal, simple, elegant, with the ability to always be a bit surprising.
“Do not forget the past and the tradition, and always be curious about what will happen tomorrow”
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE? Being able to face a new project every day, constantly activating a new process. It’s not the ultimate object in itself that I’m interested in, but to follow step by step all the different aspects of it, from start to finish: to investigate shapes, dimensions, proportions, materials, production, engineering. I’m interested in the whole process and how it evolves, and I really enjoy finding out what I’ll have to design tomorrow, what my next challenge will be.
WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED? First of all, what tomorrow will allow me to rediscover. The second is to live every project as a new start. It’s as if I were to raise the cross-bar a little bit higher each time. I never look back, I’m interested in the future.
WOULD YOU TELL US ABOUT SOME OF YOUR PET PROJECTS? We’ve just completed The Oberoi Al Zorah Resort in Ajman, UAE, a luxury waterfront property. We’ve also just inaugurated our first architecture and design project in Germany, The Gekko Group’s luxury Hotel Roomers in Baden-baden.
YOU OPENED YOUR OWN STUDIO IN 1986 ALONG WITH NICOLETTA CANESI. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT? Everything started on a kitchen table, with a ruler and triangles. In the past architects used to draw by hand with 45 degrees and 30 degrees triangles. Our adventure began as for all young architects, with a glass of milk with cookies and so many sleepless nights!
YOU ARE ALSO ART DIRECTOR AT ITALIAN FURNITURE COMPANY PORRO. HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE COMPANY? I am Art Director for Porro and a few other companies. As an architect in the late 1980s and early 90s, I started working for this company, founded in 1925 and in its third generation, first modifying small details within their existing world and beginning to take care of graphics, stands, shops and collections.
FOR SALONE DEL MOBILE THIS YEAR, YOU DESIGNED
THE GEOMETRIC ROMANTIC COLLECTION FOR PORRO. COULD YOU EXPLAIN THE CONCEPT AND HOW YOU GOT THE INSPIRATION? I have tried to put a little bit of sensuality into an increasingly technological world, with products expressing superior quality and care. I liked
the idea of adding a touch of humanism. The choice this year was to intervene with soft parts inside Storage, their closet system, to create truly refined containers for clothes; playing with colours, materials and different woods married with strongly coloured fabrics such as red and turquoise.
This year once again, the ingredient of Porro’s home was material research. The new metallic finishes, rich in nuances and textures, are capable of creating a sense of depth, recalling the oil paintings of the 17th century. I inserted decorative points with great care, without exaggerating, showing the gentle face of the technological look.
WHAT INTERESTING PROJECTS DO YOU HAVE COMING UP? I’m designing hotels, houses and factories. I’m designing furniture for next year. I’m designing the new generation of yachts for Sanlorenzo, one of the world leading shipyards for the production of yachts over 24 metres in length. This was a real challenge for me. I’ve been asked to design the interiors of the new SX line, which will be presented in September at the Cannes Yachting Festival. I’ve tried to express the timeless elegance of Sanlorenzo, combining technology and modernity, with the use of a simple, honest language. Hence, the inspiration for the project when we started to discuss ideas. I kept picturing boats, even large ones, as if they were lofts, very open spaces, highly liveable, where above all it is possible to be in contact with the surrounding world. What is more natural than water, sea and light?
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE TO ACHIEVE IN YOUR LIFETIME? I am very lucky. Despite the work, I often take some time for myself and my passions, like going to the opera or skiing in the mountains. And on my work days, I always find the time to buy flowers for my studio and to walk my dogs. My dream? To have more grandchildren…
BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT LESSONS COULD YOU SHARE WITH YOUNG DESIGNERS? I do not feel like I’m a master of anything and I have no lessons to teach. The only thing I would say to my youngest colleagues is the advice to stay very curious and to think that every day is a new day. At the same time, do not forget the past and the tradition, and always be curious about what will happen tomorrow. Being curious is the secret of everything.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BUILDING? There are too many buildings I love. I really cannot choose one. There are so many buildings that intrigue me, even just for a small detail or a sensation, that I could not choose a favourite one.
clockwise from left: LOBBY AT ROOMERS BADEN-BADEN IN GERMAN; PIERO LISSONI