The giant, the pencil
RODOLFO DORDONI, ONE OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST ARCHITECTS AND DESIGNERS, ALWAYS DRAWS FREEHAND, LOVES «SOBER COMFORT» AND DOESN’T TRUST CURVES.
Long forearms, like the posts of a big foor lamp («no shirts of the rack for me», he says). The lampshade might be his right hand, which turns on new ideas on paper, with an assiduously sharpened pencil: «I’ve never done a rendering in my life. I just use pencils», Rodolfo Dordoni says. We spent two surprising hours in the Milanese spaces of Dordoni Architetti, discovering a much less reticent personality that people usually imagine. He is a generous storyteller, reserved but ready to discuss life. Dordoni is the artistic director of Minotti and Roda, and creates for Flos, Foscarini, FontanaArte, Poliform, Cassina and many others. His calm air disguises lots of energy, ready to explode into action. «I’m a Virgo with Scorpio rising», he says, though he also claims not to know much about astrology. It is just a way to give names to the two creatures that swim in opposite directions inside his personality.
Do you think your face is more like a boxer or a writer?
«Both. And their opposites. I don’t write, but I like to compose novels with words, gabbing. I’m no boxer because I despise violence, in fact I am a bit timorous. But I do know how to fght for what I care about, also in terms of the profession».
How much does your body have to do with what you design?
«It starts with an idea, moves on to a sketch, then the prototype and the product testing. And you test it frst of all on yourself, on your proportions,
your angles. So the things I do are defnitely connected with my body ».
How tall are you?
«77 or 78 kilos».
Why so precise?
«I like to keep an eye on things». What object have you created on which you particularly like to sit or lie down? «The bench I did for Minotti, which I have at home. A typical projection of my thinking: rational, logical, few curves».
Curves make you swerve?
«Not necessarily, but I care about a certain idea of comfort that might be called “sober contemporary”. It’s not that I dislike things designed for pile-ups of six people, but such ideas just don’t come to me».
What’s the most promiscuous thing you’ve designed?
It doesn’t look that way… T-shirt, jeans, sneakers.
«From the end of art school in Brera to graduation from the Milan Polytechnic, I only wore bespoke suits. I liked to have everything made, from ties to shoes, which cost me over 400,000 lire, size 44. I still have them at home».
Is a shoe on a par with a design object?
«I respect shoes, they are works of craftsmanship, cult objects. I wore only suits with waistcoats, which makes me laugh today, since I’m no longer comfortable in a suit. I was fnding myself: then I changed, I became less showy ».
Your parents were rich?
«No, but they always let me indulge in my whims. My father was a manager at Agfa, the company that made flm. My mother was a homemaker».
People say you are aloof.
«I’m not interested in superfcial relationships, true, but as in everything else I change, I’m not so predictable». Do you like to look at that big gold ring on your fnger while you are drawing? « I had it made out of a chain my grandmother gave me for first communion. The only act of vanity I’ve granted myself over the years».
You really don’t indulge in vanity?
«It happened once, after I took some ecstasy at a disco, a million years ago. I felt so beautiful, and I thought I was a great dancer. Luckily my body doesn’t get along with drugs, so I haven’t done them much. I tried marijuana in Jamaica, on a trip with my parents. After we landed I bought some grass from a taxi driver, but I must have done too much: I woke up three days later, my parents already had a tan. Hash makes me want to throw up».
So where to you look for inebriation?
«Wine. I know about it, I’m choosy, but not a maniac».
Have you ever been a rebel?
«I am lots of things. The revolutionary and the eskimo, the hippie, the dandy. Everything I’ve come across in life has been grabbed and tried out. Seventeen years ago I even dyed my hair platinum blond, and showed up at my frst important photo shoot as art director of Minotti that way. I don’t do things like that to surprise people, though. I just want to “get out”. To overcome my shyness».
Do you like sleeping?
«I sleep less than I once used to do, but I do grant myself the luxury of getting up later».
«I CARE ABOUT A CERTAIN IDEA OF COMFORT THAT MIGHT BE CALLED “SOBER CONTEMPORARY”. NOT THAT I DISLIKE THINGS DESIGNED FOR PILE-UPS OF SIX PEOPLE: SUCH IDEAS JUST DON’T COME TO ME».
What about dreams? «Mine are very realistic, or more precisely they are possible. Things that could actually happen».
How does it feel to be sixty?
«Well, I’m happy. I have fewer enthusiasms that in the past, I must admit. But I like to refne things, to get to the crux».
Do you also have a geometric approach to bad luck?
«Fifteen years ago they told me I had a tumor. I approached it as a problem to be solved, not a misfortune or a curse. The experience changed me a lot. I feel like I’m 45 years old, actually. Like a second Rodolfo, born in 2000».
What kind of men do you like?
«Those with a rare gift».
Are there any obsolete things in your home?
«The light switches. I only use Magic by Bticino». What have you learned from the Sicilians, since you often go to your houses in Noto and Vendicari? «To accept contradiction. When I got there I was a Milanese who pays his parking tickets. Now I have a diferent, less fanatical, less demanding attitude. And I can’t stand the cold anymore. Everything is ready: I’m going to make the defnitive move there soon».
To grow thyme and mullein.
«I’m no good with plants, and I am terrible at cooking fsh, though I do love cooking. So you might ask: why am I moving to Sicily?».
To become the mayor.
«Maybe. For the moment, I’m just there to learn».