THE DESIGNER DUO
This Milanese duo’s designs have long appealed to us for their sense of colour and form, but having just completed its most recent interiors project – a temporary apartment concept during the Milan Furniture Fair called The Visit ( see p70) – Studiopepe is poised for a new collaboration with New York gallery Matter. It launched in May with ‘Out of the Blue’, a limitededition collection of eight objects in cyan shades (see above), and continues later this year with furniture and lighting focusing on scagliola, a traditional Italian surface finish that imitates marble.
Lelli Mami and Di Pinto met while studying art and design at the Politecnico di Milano. After graduation, both went on holiday to Mexico, where they met by chance on a remote beach. They spent the rest of their trip together and cemented their friendship. Back home, they began collaborating on set design projects and set up Studiopepe in 2006 (the name comes from Via Guglielmo Pepe, the street in Milan where their original studio was located).
The pair’s big break was an editorial commission from Italian magazine Case da Abitare: their shoot ‘on the theme of surrealism and nonsense’ made the front cover. Soon, they were designing shop interiors and window displays for fashion label Maxmara and Danish design brand Fritz Hansen. After that, they became creative directors at Milan gallery Spotti. ‘It was a starting point for our interior design work, as we had to redesign the entire space twice a year,’ says Lelli Mami. ‘ We also curated exhibitions involving the most creative new brands.’ Armed with this experience, they made forays into product design: in 2010, they established the Spotti Edizioni furniture range, and the following year, their ‘Kora’ ➤
STUDIOPEPE IS KNOWN FOR ITS SENSE OF COLOUR AND FORM, CREATING INTERIORS AND PRODUCTS WITH PERSONALITY
vase for Atipico was unveiled – an angular, asymmetrical vessel inspired by statues in the Erechtheum temple in Athens.
Ancient Greece is just one of a variety of influences cited by the creative duo. Lelli Mami is interested in photography, Surrealist art and architecture; Di Pinto studied fine art and loves the handmade. ‘ We are very inspired by art, especially regarding the study of shapes,’ says Lelli Mami. ‘Details in a painting can be a starting point for a product or an interior.’ They also like the contrast between humble and precious materials, and pay a great deal of attention to what happens in the fashion world. ‘The way that creative people mix vintage with designer, Levi’s with Chanel – we love that approach,’ says Di Pinto. How would they describe their own design style? ‘Simple, refined pieces that could be from the Art Deco era or even from the 1980s, but still look contemporary,’ says Lelli Mami. ‘For us, good design is something made with honest materials that you can love for years.’
So, what does the future hold for Studiopepe? A product collection for a fashion brand and a range for a hotel are both in the pipeline – the latter proving particularly exciting. ‘ We would love to design a whole hotel, right down to the teaspoons,’ says Lelli Mami. But whatever happens, the duo plan to keep working together. ‘Every project is worked on by both of us. Each of us adds a little piece of ourselves to the creative process – and hopefully the result is that one plus one makes three!’ (@studiopepe_official; studiopepedesign.it).
‘FOR US GOOD DESIGN IS SIMPLE, REFINED PIECES MADE WITH HONEST MATERIALS THAT YOU CAN LOVE FOR YEARS’
Clockwise from top left Arianna Lelli Mami (far left) and Chiara Di Pinto. ‘Home Couture’ exhibition at Spotti Milano (also see below). An object from the ‘Ossimori’ collection by Studiopepe
Clockwise from top left Pieces from Studiopepe’s ‘Ossimori’ collection. Two shots from the ‘Home Couture’ exhibition at Spotti Milano. One of the eight objects in the ‘Out of the Blue’ range. The ‘Gelosia’ screen by Studiopepe for Spotti Milano