INDIA MAHDAVI FOR BISAZZA BAGNO
Architect and designer
Milan Design Week project: Plouf bathtub, Splash washbasin and Wow mirror for Bisazza Bagno
What’s been driving you through your life and career? My main driver is that I get upset with ugliness. There’s a right to ugliness, of course, but there’s a certain kind of ugliness that bothers me. Since I was young, I’ve projected myself into a future where there’s some kind of aesthetic value. That’s what really made me move forward. I needed to have beauty around me. Maybe at some point my conception of beauty was about perfection, but it evolved with time and now it has more to do with authenticity. What did you present at this year’s Milan Design Week? We’ve been working on this bathroom with Bisazza Bagno for nearly three years. I designed it thinking about what I’d want if I had to redo a bathroom in my own apartment, and also thinking about people who don’t have an interior designer. We created a small, round bathtub, a mirror and a small sink that can be opened and hide storage. These three pieces alone can create a whole bathroom with a strong identity. I wanted small elements, because I believe that most people live in apartments with little space available, and also because I don’t like the idea of wasting too much water. I wanted everything to have colours: there are very few colour options in bathrooms – everything’s so white and clinical. I believe in the power of colours to put you in a good mood in everyday life, so introducing the coloured element to the cleansing ritual brings an extra purification effect made by the colours themselves.
Does being a woman influence your work in any way? When I think of myself, I think of a human being who happens to be a woman, who happens to be a designer. When I look at this bathroom, I wouldn’t think it could have been designed by a man. Maybe because it’s round and soft, not sculptural and massive. Creating an object is more than just an ego trip – functionality always has to be there. I hate to say that women are more practical, but actually, I think women respond to functionality in a daring way. Daring to use colours, for example. Functionality is about the way I’d like to use a product, but I want to add a dream to it at the same time. For me, design is about function and dreaming. Are there any challenges for you as a woman in the design world today? I always say that when I started out, it was a great help for me being a woman because there were no women out there. I got attention as a woman and because I was ‘exotic’ at the same time. Also, most of the industry’s professional press is run by women and they always really supported me. There was also a time when companies wanted to be ‘original’ by choosing a woman instead of a man for their projects. I think I’ve proven myself in my talent, but I still don’t have access to larger projects – I always get consulted for smaller projects or for something they call ‘feminine’. Especially in the construction field, people still have concerns about me being a woman in terms of structure, or the amount of work I can carry out. Some people don’t understand that I have enough flexibility to do well in every field. india-mahdavi.com, bisazza.it