Start making sense
“I avoid all styles and trends to concentrate on harmony and making comfortable spaces,” says Poliform designer EMMANUEL GALLINA in an interview with Liviani Putri. “People nowadays need things that make sense, that give them warmness and wellbeing”
Elegance, clarity and simplicity are the keys to Emmanuel Gallina’s creativity. The designer’s work for Poliform embodies an ethic of authenticity and a quality of coherence. For Gallina, attention to detail is a constant priority in terms of contours, shapes and functionality.
To describe his work, Gallina likes to quote Romanian sculptor, painter and photographer Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957): “Simplicity is complexity resolved”. He studied at Milan’s Politecnico, obtaining a Master’s degree in design and management. He then worked for seven years with Antonio Citterio in Milan.
Today, Gallina has his own agency. He moves between Italy and France conducting collaborations with international brands like Poliform, Cartier, Panasonic and Accor. He teaches at Politecnico, and is often invited to give lectures, attend conferences and lead workshops in France, Italy, China and Brazil.
Gallina has worked for more than 10 years with Poliform, a leading player in international furniture. The company’s collections include systems and furnishing accessories for the whole house: bookcases, containers, wardrobes and beds. A comprehensive product range carries with it the design idea of a “Poliform house” with stylistically compatible component parts; a “global project” for each architectural situation thanks to the versatility of its modular systems. Excerpts from an interview with Gallina:
Why did you want to become a designer?
As far as I can remember, I was always interested in artistic and creative activities. My grandfather was a tailor, my father a painter. They shared with me the pleasure of creativity and the sensible vision of an artist.
What do you think are the keys to successful interior style?
Timeless and elegance should be the priorities for an interior project. I would avoid all styles and trends in order to concentrate the concept on harmony, making comfortable and warm spaces. People nowadays need things that make sense, that give them warmness and wellbeing. That’s why I try to reinterpret collective memories in a modern way, with soft and elegant shapes, natural high-quality materials and traditional craftsmanship.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Everywhere, and in everything. Creative minds can always catch some interesting details or atmosphere, which can be transformed into a beautiful idea and great project. Travelling and discovering new cultures give me a lot of inspiration. But I have to admit that I am used also to looking back: inspiration means imagining the best future by learning from the past.
My inspiration mostly comes from French decorative artists and architects in the 1930s and 1940s. The period when modernist architects like Le Corbusier worked on minimalistic spaces was amazing, but maybe too radical for me.
That’s why I’m more interested in Pierre Chareau (1883-1950) and Jean-Michel Frank (1895-1941). These French interior architects created modern spaces using rich, textured materials to achieve simplicity. For example, the “Glass House” (Maison de Verre in Paris, built between 1928 and 1932) was designed by Chareau in the early modernist movement in France. It is much like contemporary loft architecture, but with a warm atmosphere.
How do you think has the definition of luXury changed since you started out?
From my point of view, luxury has to be understood like culture. As Coco Chanel said: “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance”. The idea is to reach the essentiality of things, but it’s not as easy as it seems. That’s why I like to quote Brancusi.
What did you learn from working with Antonio Citterio?
His approach and philosophy were very important for me because he is one of the best designers of recent times. Working with him, I learned to integrate a global vision into my approach: not only locked in a single level of “design”, but with strategy as the core to enhance brand recognition with a 360-degree direction.
Where do you work best? In your office, on planes?
The good fortune that I have is that I can work everywhere. I like the idea of the virtual office, thinking that I can sketch in my house close to the lake, in my office, on a plane. I just need a sketchbook (very important) and an iPad to keep up a dialogue with my collaborators and clients.
On the other hand, a designer’s brain is always on! It means that I am always thinking - actively or passively - about projects, details, ideas, strategies ... it’s a natural process. In the creative process, the ways ideas come out is very complex. The fastest and most precise way I have found to visualise the idea I have in my mind is sketching with a pen on paper. I have a lot of sketchbooks in my office. Usually, I like to draw early in the morning, alone in the office. Peace and serenity help me to concentrate.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Harmony and serenity help a lot. This is why I am doing a lot of sports and also yoga each week. When my mind is light and free, my creativity is stimulated and powerful.
How well do you work with your team?
In life, in general, I try to create a real and honest dialogue with the people around me. What is important for me is working with respectful and passionate people. I avoid all bad collaborations and people that can become mind parasites.
At the office, each project is discussed with everyone. Also, with my clients we have a strong and positive dialogue that really helps to make the right decisions for the project. The idea of working in a team is very important for me,