A Per­fect Pitch

De­signer Mauro Lip­parini and busi­ness­man Ot­ta­viano Bor­gonovo share the rea­sons be­hind MisuraEmme’s suc­cess in in­ter­na­tional mar­kets

Portfolio - - IN THIS ISSUE - By Marc Al­ma­gro

From of­fice and home fur­ni­ture to tex­tiles and other prod­ucts, from a men’s bou­tique in Baku to a restau­rant in Hangzhou, the works of Mr. Mauro Lip­parini cross and re-cross ge­o­graph­i­cal bound­aries. That they are em­braced as rep­re­sen­ta­tives of con­tem­po­rary lux­ury is a tes­ta­ment to both Mr. Lip­parini’s enor­mous tal­ents, as well as the renown that ‘Ital­ian style’ has reached. A pro­po­nent of Min­i­mal­ism, Mr. Lip­parini grad­u­ated with a de­gree in ar­chi­tec­ture from Univer­sità degli Studi Firenze in 1980 – where he would later teach. Af­ter set­ting up his de­sign prac­tice, he found au­di­ences across in­dus­tries and cul­tures, whether he was de­sign­ing a res­i­den­tial show unit in Kana­gawa or a cho­co­late shop in Mi­lan. The breadth and depth of his in­flu­ence earned him ac­co­lades from peers, and top honors at in­ter­na­tional de­sign com­pe­ti­tions, in­clud­ing Young & De­signer Mi­lan in 1987, In­ter­na­tional DuPont Award Koln in 1988 and 1989, and Good De­sign® Global Awards in 2011. As an in­ter­na­tional de­sign ser­vices provider, Mr. Lip­parini cov­ers ar­chi­tec­ture and in­te­rior de­sign for pri­vate and pub­lic res­i­den­tial projects, show units, re­tail sales out­lets, and ex­hi­bi­tion in­stal­la­tions. As prod­uct de­signer, his fur­ni­ture and com­ple­ments are avail­able un­der lead­ing brands, and as graphic de­signer, his out­put spans cor­po­rate iden­tity and ed­i­to­rial ser­vices, in­clud­ing pro­duc­tion. Among his well-known on­go­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions is with Ital­ian fur­ni­ture brand MisuraEmme, which en­com­passes a full range of home fur­nish­ings – chairs, ta­bles, couches, wardrobes, book­cases, side­boards, and sys­tems. They are marked with a min­i­mal­ist feel ex­pressed in sim­ple sil­hou­ettes and neu­tral hues. Although con­tem­po­rary, these pieces are time­less and would eas­ily find a spot in both mod­ern in­te­ri­ors and clas­si­cal set­tings. That they also find ap­pli­ca­tion in cor­po­rate spa­ces hints at their func­tion­al­ity and adapt­abil­ity. Mr. Lip­parini’s lat­est col­lab­o­ra­tions with MisuraEmme in­clude the Phoenix sofa sys­tem in fixed and mod­u­lar ver­sions; the sec­ond, con­sist­ing of a dor­mouse, a pouffe, and a chaise longue, of­fers var­ied com­po­si­tional pos­si­bil­i­ties. Mean­while, the Vi­o­letta arm­chair is a well-cush­ioned seat­ing perched on a metal swivel base. The piece can be up­hol­stered in a se­lec­tion of leather, eco-leather, and fab­ric. Port­fo­lio re­cently caught up with Mr. Lip­parini to talk about the ris­ing ho­mo­gene­ity in de­sign, and MisuraEmme’s prospects in South­east Asia.

Port­fo­lio: Do you find that dif­fer­ent mar­kets across the globe are de­vel­op­ing a taste for very sim­i­lar de­signs? If this is the case, to what fac­tors would you at­tribute it?

Mauro Lip­parini: Con­tam­i­na­tion knows no ob­sta­cles or bar­ri­ers. Mar­kets, in spite of ge­o­graph­i­cal dif­fer­ences, are get­ting closer to­gether. Through the con­tin­u­ous flow of in­for­ma­tion, cul­tures and cus­toms con­tam­i­nate each other; we look to the East, and the East looks at us. We are in­trigued by di­ver­sity and so each of us tries to un­der­stand it, re­for­mu­lat­ing it in new ways. For many years, and to an in­creas­ing ex­tent in this mo­ment, in var­i­ous sec­tors Ital­ian de­sign plays a cen­tral role in set­ting style, with the abil­ity to cre­ate trends, cap­tur­ing the many over­tones of mar­kets in an in­ter­pre­ta­tion that de­fines the “Ital­ian life­style”. The ex­tra­or­di­nary re­la­tion­ship of syn­ergy be­tween Ital­ian com­pa­nies and de­sign­ers has cre­ated the added value that mar­kets have been able to rec­og­nize over time. All the emerg­ing mar­kets need time to grow; the older gen­er­a­tions in­dulge and re­ward their suc­cesses through a clas­sic style, a new form of os­ten­ta­tious, of­ten ex­ces­sive su­per-lux­ury. With eco­nomic growth the new gen­er­a­tions, be­long­ing to the more af­flu­ent classes, have the pos­si­bil­ity of study­ing abroad, where they ab­sorb

con­tem­po­rary cul­ture, in­clud­ing de­sign. The pres­ence of mag­a­zines in var­i­ous sec­tors leads the way, pre­par­ing fer­tile ground for growth. In­for­ma­tion spreads very quickly, and ev­ery­thing be­comes very fluid and con­crete. We might say that the big dif­fer­ences are no longer ge­o­graph­i­cal, cul­tural, or in terms of life­style, but rather a mat­ter of tar­get: Buy­ing power, on the one hand, and aes­thetic be­long­ing, on the other. So, fash­ion, ar­chi­tec­ture, de­sign, and food be­come tools for change. This fu­sion is in­creas­ingly im­per­a­tive and in­ter­est­ing, while at the same time it re­in­forces the de­sire to pos­sess Ital­ian style, that of “Made in Italy”.

What is your read­ing of the South­east Asian mar­ket in terms of de­sign pref­er­ences and, more im­por­tantly, how are you re­spond­ing to these de­mands? How does such de­mand af­fect your de­sign of­fer­ings? Do you tend to de­sign with spe­cific mar­kets in mind?

I have the cu­rios­ity, the de­sire to par­tic­i­pate, and un­der­stand lo­cal cus­toms, the emo­tions of the mo­ment, and the will to rein­ter­pret places them­selves, and dif­fer­ent clients, all con­stant as­pects of my de­sign process, with­out any pre­con­ceived no­tions. I be­gan to de­sign in Asian mar­kets back in 1987, in Ja­pan, and then af­ter a few years in China, Malaysia, Sin­ga­pore and other coun­tries in South­east Asia. In all these years, I have been able to ob­serve the in­cred­i­ble changes that have hap­pened and evolved. I, too, have changed as a re­sult of my ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in these mar­kets, each time achiev­ing new per­sonal goals. All this im­plies an in­nate at­ti­tude of faith in oth­ers, and in the fu­ture. The South­east Asian mar­ket has a thou­sand facets, so my rule is to start from scratch ev­ery time, to study the spe­cific area, its mor­pho­log­i­cal and com­mer­cial char­ac­ter­is­tics, its as­pi­ra­tions, not the most ob­vi­ous ones but those that are most con­cealed, the weak sig­nals that are hard to in­ter­pret even for lo­cal clients and pro­fes­sion­als, and can lead to some pleas­ant dis­cov­er­ies. I try to get in tune with a new po­et­ics of in­ter­pre­ta­tion, while ex­plor­ing the orig­i­nal roots of the place. But while all this hap­pens in the projects of ar­chi­tec­ture and in­te­rior de­sign, go­ing back into my own cul­tural back­ground the projects of in­dus­trial de­sign pro­ceed with other pro­cesses. First of all, I like to think that they are all prod­ucts, whether they are works of ar­chi­tec­ture, in­te­rior or in­dus­trial de­sign, but dif­fer­ent in terms of scale, needs, re­la­tion­ships, the ‘Why’ that lies be­hind the ne­ces­sity of a prod­uct. The pro­duc­tion pro­cesses, the distri­bu­tion, the tar­get, and the com­plete­ness of the cat­a­logue are all dif­fer­ent. If there is not a spe­cific de­mand, the cre­ation of the prod­uct is not ori­ented to­wards re­spond­ing to one mar­ket or an­other. The com­plex­ity of the im­age is in­trin­sic to the prod­uct, the cor­po­rate mis­sion, the cor­po­rate iden­tity. While the ex­u­ber­ance of de­sign is bound­less, it is also an alchemy of risks and in­dus­trial rea­son­ing.

Mr. Ot­ta­viano Bor­gonovo

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