The Australian - Wish Magazine
The designer is celebrating 20 years of bringing his legendary aesthetic into the home with his interiors range
was a big year for Giorgio Armani in 1982. Time magazine put the Italian fashion designer on its cover and declared that he was defining “the new shape of style”, even though he had only been in business since 1975.
It was also the year Armani made his first foray into the world of interiors by designing his now famous logo lamp to light his Milan office.
“It was the first expression of my curiosity and ambition to extend my aesthetics to other areas,” he tells WISH. “It’s a piece I am very attached to, and I have always found [ interiors] fascinating and I wanted to approach [ it] with the highest possible awareness and expertise. With its pure geometric shape, it embodies the key elements of my design philosophy.”
The logo lamp, with its simple yet elegant triangular shape, became the first product of the Armani/Casa homewares line when it was launched 18 years later in 2000. The piece has since become a symbol of Armani’s interiors business, which has expanded to the point where the designer works with leading architects to outfit homes, apartments, hotels, yachts and private planes. You can now stay at Armani hotels around the world, or buy an Armani apartment from London to Mumbai.
“I began to structure the idea of a total lifestyle, extending my vision and aesthetics into interiors and living spaces,” he says of Armani/Casa, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. “Interior design has and will always fascinate me, in all of its forms, and it’s an area in which I can experiment to the fullest extent. I love conjuring up small, private worlds.”
There are now 41 Armani/Casa stores in 29 countries, offering a range of furniture, homewares, rugs and lighting, as well as the interior design studio. In Australia, the Armani/Casa range is sold at Armani’s Sydney and Melbourne boutiques. Armani describes the aesthetic of his homewares as consistent but also innovative.
“In this way, the classic pieces never become boring; rather, they are constantly reimagined, softened and made more fluid, and the result is that they are always current,” he says. “It certainly does not fall prey to shortlived fads that die out after six months.”
The designer loves exploring different materials in his furniture and homewares – hazelnut oak in a bookshelf or emerald green quartzite for a dressing table, or handapplied rose gold leaf on an armchair. He is often influenced by the 1920s Art Deco period, as is evident in the shapes of his sofas, tables, chairs and other pieces. Their simplicity highlights the exquisite quality of the materials and the skills of the craftsman who created them.
The 2020 Armani/Casa collection is inspired by the abstract art of the early 20th century; Henri Matisse’s “vital sense of colour” and Paul Klee’s “chromatic rhythms” are the starting point for patterns and finishes. Armani says he often finds ideas in books, photography, art, travelling the world and, of course, film (he worked as a costume designer on many famous films, dressing actors such as Richard Gere and Christian Bale). “My sources of inspiration can be the most diverse,” he says. “They trigger my curiosity, sometimes in totally unexpected ways, stimulating my creativity to design objects and environments that reflect a specific aesthetic taste.”
When it comes to his own house – and Armani has many, including ones in the Caribbean, on the French Riviera and New York – his favourite room is the study on the third floor of his Milan residence. “It’s where I spend most of my time when I’m home,” he tells WISH.
“It’s a haven within a haven, for both work and reflection. I have a desk and a small armchair with an animal print design, both by JeanMichel Frank [ a French interior designer known for his minimalist interiors in the 1930s], which I absolutely love. I’ve often looked to his works for my interior design business so you’ll find echoes of his clean style in my own home’s décor.”
And like all of us over the past six months since COVID19 upended the world as we knew it, Armani has been spending more time at his home in Milan.
“Never like today have we realised the importance of the environment we live in,” he says. “Every home should be functional and decorated to reflect our personality and convey a feeling of wellbeing, warmth and tranquillity. The task of design will be to find new solutions adaptable to spaces of various dimensions and rethinking our new lifestyles.”
Armani – who is estimated to be worth $8.4 billion by Forbes – also talks of how the “sense of permanence of style” of interior design is incredibly satisfying and a nice contrast with the crazy world of seasonal fashion.
Just after the pandemic began, the designer wrote an open letter to the industry arguing that it was a unique opportunity to “fix what is wrong” and to regain a more human dimension in the increasingly unsustainable fashion production cycle. “What is happening now should open our eyes to the necessity of slowing down the pace of everyday lives,” he says.
The next project he is working on takes Armani/Casa to the next level – as is fitting for a 20th anniversary. He is remodelling an entire building on Madison Avenue in New York to create a twostorey, 16,000 square foot Giorgio Armani flagship store as well as 19 luxury Armani/Casa apartments with all interiors designed by the 86 year old. Construction started this year and is expected to be finished by 2023. And any future purchasers will be buying not only an Armani apartment, they will probably get the designer as a neighbour as well given he has signalled his intention to live in the building.
“It marks an important milestone in my career,” he says. “It’s an exciting project that is designed to be longlasting, and one that will be in harmony with the urban landscape of the famous Upper East Side and reflect the history of the neighbourhood.”