PATRIZIA MOROSO – Moroso Part 2

Patrizia Moroso is art director of Italian furniture brand Moroso, the influential company started by her father Agostino in 1952. Moroso is known as one of the most daring, dynamic and ultra-contemporary design brands in the world, championing new and established talents. In Part 2 of our Q&A, we discover what makes its feisty figurehead tick…

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What were your highlights from Moroso’s Milan Furniture Fair launch in April?
I loved launching the ‘Triclinium’ sofa by Front in Milan, and Doshi Levien’s ‘Armada’ seating collection, inspired by 17th-century sailing boats, was fantastic. Also the striking ‘Belt’ sofa – Patricia Urquiola wanted to refresh the idea of a sofa, to create an object that wasn’t compact, solid and precise, but was fresh, soft and sustainable. It’s suspended on an aluminium structure, and you can change the cushions on it like the duvet on your bed. You keep the shape together using belts.

ABOVE: Swedish design trio Front's 'Triclinium' sofa for Moroso, launched at April's Milan Furniture Fair, was inspired by ancient Roman rituals of reclining, feasting and socialising on a single seat

What's your design philosophy?
I hate the word trend – there are no trends for me. I don’t like to follow a trend, I prefer to follow the thinking of someone, so a designer thinking is interesting, a trend is not interesting. Besides, the big trends of the recent past have all finished, like minimalism or post-modernism, or all those movements that have names. That big wave thinking has now disappeared, leaving many little philosophies, not one main one. Some might find this confusing, but for me it’s freedom.

Where do you get inspiration?
I love people with fantastic brains and creativity. I love music and art, and by artist I mean someone that uses creativity – I love inspired people that give to life. Design, and the history of design, is also inspiring. I remember being wowed when I first visited Milan, and the Salone, with my parents when I was young, coming from a little town in the north-east of Italy. Everything was beautiful, surprising, full of incredible people. That was a strong influence on me.

ABOVE: Doshi Levien's 'Armada' chair collection for Moroso's Milan 2016 collection includes cocooning sides that billow out like boat sails

Who are your design heroes?
For me, it’s Italian design from the Seventies. When I was a teenager, I was very inspired in the Seventies, and my life changed, because the thinking was very radical, and also design and architecture were absolutely radical, so I grew up believing design could change people’s lives. One of the big masters for me was Ettore Sottsass. He didn’t make a lot of things, but he really changed the way of thinking, and that is so important. Alongside Sottsass was Alessandro Mendini – these two people changed everything in interiors and many things from the past disappeared – plop – in one moment. They introduced colour and fun to our lives. I think you need a little bit of irony, love and fun in things you use or put in your home.

What's currently exciting you in design or style?
The freedom. In the Seventies designers were really breaking down a big wall of convention, and after that came a lot of moments of rethinking, and post-modernism, but now we don’t have the walls and the thinking is free. So you can find someone thinking in one way, and someone else in a totally different direction. Production is also incredibly diverse around the world, even just within Italy.

ABOVE: The new 'Belt' sofa by the other Patricia (Urquiola) for Moroso is formed from soft cushions folded over to form back and arm rests, secured by eye-catching belts

Where's on your travel wish list?
Anywhere can be inspiring. For me, it’s going to New York to see art galleries, or London to have fun with music, or Paris to enjoy the museums and see the old art of the past. What’s interesting is humanity. For my happiness, I like to see what great people can do – to see a dancer or painter or scientist discovering something is so joyful. The potential of human beings is the best thing.

What's your social media of choice?
It’s crazy but I don’t really use any social media. I’m a terrible person, I hate Facebook! I think a minimum of privacy is so important in life. I don’t like to be eaten up by someone that wants to know everything! We have a lot of friends, so I don’t need another friend that I don’t know. My children use it, but I prefer my privacy – and if I want to contact someone I call them. I find the telephone such a beautiful, warm media. If possible I go by car to visit people or if it’s too far then the phone reaches everyone, everywhere. Social media is very important for developing ideas and helping people connect in a positive way, but that is not my way. I like a little more humanity.

ABOVE: Tord Boontje's 'O' chair for Milan 2016 was inspired by his daughter's dreamcatcher and Senegalese weaving; Marc Thorpe's 'Baobab' table for the launch also sports vibrant African influences, from tree shapes to patterns.

What's next for Moroso?
We’re planning the collection for next April’s Milan fair. We know Patricia will do a fantastic sofa. Ron Arad, Ross Lovegrove and Tord Boontje are also doing something – that is sort of the group of old friends – and also Jonathan and Nipa from Doshi Levien. Then I always include something new and surprising, by a young designer or someone who doesn’t usually do design. I try to have a recipe for our ‘dinner’ in April so I know that we need good main ingredients, but also the spices, some leaves and maybe a flower.
moroso.it  hubfurniture.com.au

See Moroso's latest limited edition collaborations with Australian fashion designers at Hub's furniture showrooms at 63 Exhibition Street, CBD, Melbourne and 66-72 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, until Christmas 2016, alongside highlights from the collection; for more details see Part 1 of our Q&A with Patrizia Moroso

ABOVE: Dutch duo Scholten & Baijings' neon-bright 2015 'Ottoman' for Moroso; fellow countryman Edward van Vliet expanded his colourful collection of 'Sushi' seating with 2016's 'Ariel' small armchair and 'Juju rendez-vous' bench; Swiss-based, Argentine talent Alfredo Häberli's 2016 'Take a Line For a Walk' chaise longue joins his bold 2003 armchair of the same name

POLLY DICKENS Habitat

Polly Dickens is a well-known figure on the London design scene. Famous for her brilliant eye, she has travelled the world as a buyer for retailers including Anthropologie, Liberty and The Conran Shop. Now Creative Director at Habitat, she has gone full circle back to her Conran roots charting the unexpected colour combos, textures and patterns that embody Habitat's genre-hopping, global mix.

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

Tell us about your new collection for Habitat.
We’ve looked at a range of ideas for AW15 from the 1980s Memphis design movement to mid-century America, 1950s Scandinavia and modern-day Africa. Our designers have translated these ideas into a collection that ticks lots of boxes with interesting use of materials, strong shapes and bright colours. My favourite is the new 'Astrid' light designed by Matthew Long, which was inspired by DNA molecules for a simple but elegant, graphic lighting concept. His 'Hawkins' armchair is also a real statement combining an angular shape with chrome frames and mixed fabric textures (see our picks from the Habitat AW15 collection here).

ABOVE RIGHT: 'Hawkins' armchair by Matthew Long in green wool and grey velvet, £995, Habitat
BELOW: 'Astrid' lights by Matthew Long, from £70, Habitat

What aspect of the range do you love the most?
That it’s brave and makes a statement. I always admired Habitat for creating designs that have a distinct personality – designs that aren’t afraid to challenge conventions and push people into looking at home furnishings in a different way. With this collection I really feel that we’ve done that again, creating statement designs that some will love and some will hate but that encourage people to be passionate and engage with design. Nobody else is doing that on the high street but it’s where Habitat will always be.

How would you sum up your style as a designer?
I’m not a designer as such but more of an editor – putting together designs and products for the Habitat collection and building the creative identity of the brand. For me, the provenance of a product is paramount and I’ve worked to champion ‘the hand of the maker’ at Habitat. You’ll notice, especially with our ceramics, textiles and accessories, that we’ve made sure you can see where a person has worked on a product – from brush strokes to imperfect shapes.

What are your influences?
I find that experience is my biggest influence – experiences from travels, exhibitions, trade fairs, theatre – the list goes on. I am continually inspired by people, places and things around me. These are constantly changing and translate into the collection in some shape or form. This year, the incredible Jackson Pollock exhibition at the Venice Guggenheim was the inspiration point for our Christmas 2016 collection, which we are really excited to launch.

BELOW: 'Mural' (1943) by Jackson Pollock is on show at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, until 16 November 2015

Who or what is exciting you in design right now?
UK designer Aaron Probyn (left). We worked with him on a retrospective project for Habitat’s 50th birthday back in 2014 and I’m working with him again on a new collection for SS16. The way he adapts across product categories using different mediums is fascinating.

ABOVE: 'Poise', 'Pendry' and 'Marlowe' table lamps for Habitat by Aaron Probyn, 2014
BELOW RIGHT: Jean Prouvé's 'Fauteuil Direction Pivotant' office chair by G–Star RAW for Vitra

What’s next for you?
We’ve just finished putting together our SS16 collection so it’s on to AW16. I’m off on a big buying trip to the Far East taking in Hong Kong, China and Thailand. We’ve worked with suppliers out there for a number of years and on this trip we’ll be looking at accessories from new ceramicists' studios, working on Christmas decoration designs and also new porcelain lighting in China.   

Who are your design heroes?
Jean Prouvé is one. I love his work and am fortunate enough to have collected several of his pieces for Vitra over the years.

Where’s on your travel wish list?
I’m a bit of a travel junkie. My job has meant I’ve been lucky enough to cover most corners of the globe but the one place I want to spend more time is Japan. It is such a diverse country that I have only been able to glimpse it on business trips so would love to have more time to explore. I’m also a passionate cook, so anywhere that has a good food market is on the list too. 

Is there anything you wish you had designed?
Anything from Korean-born, Brooklyn-based Jennie Jieun Lee’s ceramics collection.

ABOVE: The colourful painterly ceramic world of Jennie Jieun Lee

If you weren't a creative director, what might you have been?
At university I was heavily involved with student theatre, designing and making costumes for lots of different productions. I loved it and was thinking of extending my degree into theatre design.

What’s your social media of choice?
I’m quite an ‘unsocial’ media type, however I love photography and my iPhone’s memory is always full of all the pictures I take, so I’d have to be on Instagram.
habitat.co.uk 

Habitat's Autumn/Winter collection is available from September 2015