In­ter­views

In­dus­trial de­signer Francesco Meda’s first col­lab­o­ra­tion with Molteni&c re­sults in a re­mark­able ad­di­tion to the Ital­ian stal­wart’s line of time­less pieces

Singapore Tatler Homes - - AUG/SEP 2018 -

Il­lu­mi­nat­ing in­sights from Is­abelle Mi­aja and Francesco Meda on the cre­ative in­ter­play of art and de­sign

Francesco Meda’s ca­reer isn’t just borne out of pas­sion for de­sign, but is also a con­tin­u­a­tion of his fa­ther’s legacy. The son of en­gi­neer and ar­chi­tect Al­berto Meda, Francesco, who grad­u­ated from the pres­ti­gious Isti­tuto Europeo di De­sign, first honed his skills work­ing for Se­bas­tian Bergne and Ross Love­grove in Lon­don. Upon his re­turn to Italy in 2008, Meda worked with his fa­ther while con­cur­rently pur­su­ing art and de­sign projects, which al­lowed him to ex­hibit his work at ven­er­ated venues such as Nil­u­far Gallery and Ros­sana Or­landi in Mi­lan. While his ear­lier pieces are con­cep­tual in na­ture, his re­cent work show­cases more of his in­dus­trial de­sign dis­ci­pline with pieces that are in­tended to be man­u­fac­tured in a larger scale. His first col­lab­o­ra­tion with Molteni&c mar­ries his tech­ni­cal prow­ess with his artis­tic side re­sult­ing in the Woody—a seem­ingly sim­ple chair that be­lies its in­tel­li­gent con­struc­tion. Free of any join­ery, the stream­lined, screw-free wooden chair looks and feels light. Con­tin­u­ing in the tra­di­tion of Molteni&c, this cre­ation has a time­less qual­ity, and with its or­ganic lines and neu­tral fin­ishes, it can eas­ily blend into any in­te­rior style. Francesco shares his ap­proach to de­sign and what went into the mak­ing of his first project with Molteni&c.

Tell us about your fas­ci­na­tion for mar­ry­ing art and de­sign.

I like work­ing with com­pa­nies but I also like do­ing per­sonal re­search and artis­tic projects. I pre­fer be­ing in two worlds be­cause it of­fers dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives. In the past, my cre­ations for gal­leries took me as far as Hong Kong; I re­turned there last year to speak at the Busi­ness of De­sign Week (BODW) with my fa­ther on the topic of “Two De­sign­ers’ Gen­er­a­tions”.

How has be­ing in Mi­lan shaped you as a young de­signer?

De­sign is ev­ery­where but here in Italy, there is a spe­cial re­la­tion­ship be­tween de­sign­ers and crafts­men. For ex­am­ple, this col­lab­o­ra­tion with Molteni&c took only six months be­cause we are very close to all of the ex­perts that we need. Ev­ery part of Italy has an ar­ti­san tra­di­tion— from leather craft­ing in Florence to glass­mak­ing in Venice and so on. Other coun­tries have a lot of de­sign­ers, but many of them still work with Ital­ian com­pa­nies and man­u­fac­tur­ers be­cause of our links with the cre­ators them­selves.

How did the col­lab­o­ra­tion with Molteni&c be­gin?

Mi­lan is a small world. There are only a hand­ful of young de­sign­ers liv­ing and work­ing here. Last year, my fa­ther and I cre­ated a lamp for Kartell, and after­wards I re­ceived a call from Molteni&c. I was de­lighted be­cause I love ev­ery­thing about the brand, es­pe­cially its qual­ity and strong iden­tity. When you see a Molteni&c piece, you know it’s from them. It was a plea­sure to work with them and this is a trea­sured op­por­tu­nity.

What was the im­pe­tus to cre­ate the Woody chair?

Wooden chairs are usu­ally rigid, so my goal was to cre­ate an er­gonomic chair that was also light—vis­ually and phys­i­cally. We adopted a new pro­duc­tion tech­nique by us­ing a five-axis ma­chine that al­lowed us to bring to­gether dif­fer­ent, smaller pieces of wood. When you look at the Woody chair, it seems as if it’s crafted from a sin­gle piece of wood, but it’s ac­tu­ally dif­fer­ent pieces

“IN ITALY, THERE IS A SPE­CIAL RE­LA­TION­SHIP BE­TWEEN DE­SIGN­ERS AND CRAFTS­MEN … EV­ERY PART OF ITALY HAS AN AR­TI­SAN TRA­DI­TION”

put to­gether like a puz­zle. This way, you don’t waste ma­te­rial be­cause you don’t start with a block of wood but with smaller pieces that are later as­sem­bled with­out screws. So, it’s eas­ier to man­u­fac­ture, de­liver and just more in­ter­est­ing to make.

What was your favourite part of the process?

More than re­search or draw­ing, I en­joyed very much work­ing di­rectly with the crafts­man the old-school way. A lot of peo­ple think that de­sign­ing starts with a sketch that sud­denly goes into pro­duc­tion. With Molteni&c, it was a back and forth process with a maker. From build­ing the first pro­to­type to re­fin­ing the piece, it was amaz­ing to see the evo­lu­tion and to share and learn from those who know the ma­te­rial in­ti­mately. For ev­ery prod­uct, many hands go into the its cre­ation and not just the de­signer’s.

Why is sus­tain­abil­ity im­por­tant to you?

We al­ready have a world full of chairs. When you make a new prod­uct, you’re adding to the world so it has to be bet­ter, more evolved than the past. So for a de­signer, it’s re­ally im­por­tant to keep in mind not to add to our oceans that are full of plas­tic or de­stroy na­ture’s in­her­ent bal­ance.

OP­PO­SITE PAGE The Woody chair col­lec­tion, a screw-free chair pre­sented by Molteni&c at Mi­lan De­sign Week 2018; the Woody chairs by Meda, styled with the Fil­i­gree ta­ble de­signed by Rodolfo Dor­doni

THIS PAGE Ital­ian in­dus­trial de­signer Francesco Meda

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