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

PATRIZIA MOROSO Moroso – Part 1

Italian furniture brand Moroso’s creative director, Patrizia Moroso, is known for curating bold collections that break new ground in interiors. Her collaborations have developed the careers of many of design’s biggest names. Currently touring Australia with Hub furniture to source new talent and launch limited edition upholstery by seven local fashion and accessory designers, Patrizia caught up with the Fizz.

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What's happening on your current Australian trip with Hub furniture?
I’m here for two weeks for Moroso doing launches and presentations with Hub in Melbourne and Sydney, and also visiting Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art. Australia is a country I love. The first time I came in 2003 I was with Patricia Urquiola at the beginning of our work relationship, and we became real friends during that trip. We spent an amazing long weekend in the desert centre at Uluru. We also went to Melbourne and Sydney, which were super-fantastic, modern and bright, and everywhere women were managing the museums, galleries and shops. So there is a sort of genius loci [spirit of place] here I think, and now in this modern period it belongs to women. Australia is a very contemporary continent, a little different from the rest of the world, with a lot of potential.
 

ABOVE: Design guru Patrizia Moroso
BELOW: A trio of Alfredo Häberli's iconic 2003 'Take a Line For a Walk' armchairs for Moroso in fabrics by Australian jeans label Nobody Denim, fashion designer Martin Grant and messenger bag brand Crumpler

ABOVE: Four 2005 'Smock' chairs by Patricia Urquiola for Moroso upholstered by Australian fashion talents KuwaiiAkira Isogawa, Lisa Gorman and Steven Khalil

What kind of fresh talent are you hoping to find through the Moroso Design Speed Date project?
The Design Speed Dating was organised by Hub’s team to introduce me to some young Australian designers, with 20 short pitches in Melbourne and 20 in Sydney, to source potential collaborations. It’s an interesting exchange between someone that usually works in furniture design and some young talents that usually work in fashion or other disciplines. If someone is bright when designing a printed fashion fabric that’s not so far from when we are imagining the cover for a chair. It’s like imagining the perfect dress for someone, so when you are changing the skin of the object, you are also changing its personality and attitude. We wanted to mix things up. 

ABOVE: Black-and-white upholstery for Alfredo Häberli's 'Take a Line For a Walk' chair by Melbourne bag and luggage brand Crumpler; Melbourne fashion label Kawaii's fabric on Patricia Urquiola's 'Smock' chair; Detail of 'Smock' chair upholstered by patterntastic Melbourne fashion brand Gorman

How do you identify great collaborators?
Nothing is precise, like everything in life, so I leave things a little up to destiny. I’m interested in people that I like, so in the end you find your friends and companions in life in the same road that you are walking. What makes a synergy between people is that they probably share interests, experiences, ideas or emotions. I’m quite empathetic about who I’d love to work with. It’s like the way you usually know who will be your friends in two minutes. They could already be famous and great designers, or they could be young and having their first design experience with me, it’s a very human response.

What's your role in fostering talent at Moroso?
I just try to find someone interesting and we try to make something together. I give a chance to young people or to people that have interesting ideas. I always hope young designers can one day develop their own super story. After a collaboration what they do is not up to me, of course, but many times they have become pretty famous, like Doshi Levien or Tord Boontje and many others that started their career with Moroso. In many cases they were going to be someone with good ideas and great work anyway, it’s not because of me, I just try to spot them early!

ABOVE FROM LEFT: Regular Moroso collaborators include Spanish superstar Patricia Urquiola and Dutch designer Tord Boontje

What fuels your long creative relationship with Patricia Urquiola?
When I first met Patricia she was a young Spanish girl working in Italy, in a fantastic design firm. She wanted to establish her own studio but it was not easy to find someone who would put faith in a young woman. Back then the world of design was not full of women – now it’s different, fortunately you can find a lot – but at that time it was more difficult, so when we met each other it was like an instant click. For me it was clear she had a great talent, but also it was easy for me to communicate with her because she was a woman, and for her it was the same, throwing her ideas to someone understanding. And so we started collaborating and now she is a huge, important name.

ABOVE: Patricia Urquiola's striking Moroso booth design for the 2016 Milan Furniture Fair eschewed fixed walls for lightness. ‘Patty put together the idea of colour, toile fabric and transparency to divide the space, so it was like a labyrinth of rooms where you could lose yourself a little,' says Patrizia Moroso

How do you like to work with designers?
Many companies have a strict relationship with one designer, like in fashion where you have a brand producing a name. I try to give many designers a chance to do something in our collection. That way you can find a multiplicity of ideas and styles, and that makes me happy. It’s more like real life, where every day you meet very different people, and I love that diversity. I love the inspiration that comes to me through designers, like when Tord Boontje’s romantic idea of nature changed the minimal, functional aesthetic that was everywhere around 2000. He’s a unique man that has a special sensibility like a Romantic late 19th-century artist. For me that was absolutely fascinating, so wow, yes, we had to explore this thing! To give visibility to ideas is fantastic. Sameness, and standardisation, kills everything. I try to do something different from normality or banality. 
moroso.it  hubfurniture.com.au

See Moroso's limited edition chair collaboration with Australian designers at the Hub showrooms at 63 Exhibition Street, CBD, Melbourne and 66-72 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills, Sydney until Christmas 2016. Patrizia will also take part in a free talk in Sydney on 10 October 2016 (book for limited places). For more insights click on Part 2 of our Q&A.

Photos: Limited edition chairs, Jenah Piwanski; Tord Boontje, Angela Moore

MICHAEL ANASTASSIADES

Cypriot-born, London-based designer Michael Anastassiades is known for his pared back aesthetic and sculptural, one-of-a-kind lighting. A former Royal College of Art and Imperial College graduate, his perfectly poised designs use simple geometric shapes that complement both contemporary interiors and elegant homes

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

How would you describe your work and philosophy?
‘Reduced’ is how I would sum it up. I don’t like to use the word 'minimal' because I feel that is misunderstood in terms of design. What I’m looking for is simplicity. I like to remove excess information from the visual language of the object to distill it to a point where actually, what I decide to give it, is the bare minimum. I believe this is really important in communicating the idea behind an object.

Tell us about your new products for Italian lighting firm Flos. 
The ideas were different for each one. In the case of 'Captain Flint', it was about trying to make a light that works in a doorway. On the one hand, it can be a reading light next to a sofa, but by simply changing the direction you have an uplighter for a more ambient atmosphere, or you can even direct the spot against a wall or specific object. On a practical level, it is a light that works in all sorts of scenarios. The inspiration plays on the idea of balance. The cone balances on its tip, on a stick, which is an extension of the collection of the 'IC' light.

ABOVE: Michael Anastassiades with his 'String Light Cone Head' pendant lights for Flos, inspired by electricity pylon power lines
ABOVE RIGHT AND BELOW: 'Captain Flint' can be rotated through 360 degrees. It comes in two finishes – brushed brass with a white Carrara marble base and anthracite with a black Marquinia marble base

What is your starting point?
In the case of my latest collection for Flos, I addressed the notion of balance. There is a sense of anxiety, almost. How is it possible? How can a cone balance on a stick? The practicalities of a design are subconscious. They are always there and you have to solve them at the end of the day.

What draws you to lighting?
Lighting for me is fascinating because it is special. It is not the same as any other product design. It has to work in two different scenarios: when it is on and when it is off, and this duality is very challenging. When it is off, you view it as an object and the space it occupies but suddenly, when the bulb is switched on, then it exists in an entirely different way. The way it interacts with other objects, in terms of casting shadows changes everything. Of course, light is a very beautiful and very poetic medium and that is what attracted me to it in the first place.

BELOW: Also for Flos, Anastassiades' spherical 'Extra' table lamp plays with balance, and comes in bronze, graphite and silver finishes; The 'Copycat' light is composed of two connecting spheres. The large illuminated globe is contrasted by a smaller one in polished aluminium, electroplated 24 carat gold, black nickel or copper

Which of your lighting designs are your favourites?
I live with very few objects in my home and so the things that I choose are carefully selected. In terms of my own designs, I like living with them but it tends to work on a rotational basis because I don’t have space for all of them. There are different reasons why I like something. Sometimes it is sentimental in the sense that it could be one of my early pieces of work. Sometimes it could be a reminder of an experience that I’ve had.

ABOVE: Another balancing act is pulled off by the 'IC' standard and table lamps in chrome and brushed brass

Beyond lighting, is there any new design territory you would like to tackle?
I am already working on furniture. I have a partnership with US brand Herman Miller that allows me to explore that world, however, lighting is really my passion, my preference. The collaboration with Flos is important. We started in 2011 and the first product launch was in 2013.

Who are your design heroes?
I have many. I wouldn’t say they were heroes. It’s too much load to bear, I think, to be a hero. For me, I like different designers in the same way that I like a lot of artists' work. I am more inspired by art than I am by design.

Photo by HIT1912/iStock / Getty Images

Where’s on your travel wish list?
Unfortunately, I only go to places where work takes me. There is very little time to explore other parts. Cyprus and Greece are special destinations when it comes to choosing places to rest but they don’t excite me like Tokyo, for example, which I find fascinating. I’ve been many times but I always like to go back.

What’s your social media of choice?
I am quite distant from it. I do use Facebook, and Instagram I find interesting, but all these things consume you in a way that I don’t really like. I like to get inspiration from observation instead. They are good tools to keep in touch with people but that is the best use I can think of for them.
michaelanastassiades.com  studiomichaelanastassiades.com

Pictures: Frank Huelsboemer, Giuseppe Brancato, Getty Images

FREDRIKSON STALLARD

fredriksonstallard_biography1-1280x850.jpg

London duo Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard, aka Fredrikson Stallard, operates at the outer limits of design. The Fizz catches up with the men in black as they prepare to unveil a new furniture collection in Milan

BY DEE IVA

 

How did Fredrikson Stallard start?
It was a very organic process that began when we met at Central Saint Martins in 1995. Patrik studied product design and Ian studied ceramic design. After university Ian set up his own ceramic studio, designing, making and selling his works. Patrik was working as an architect and designer for a small architectural firm connected with the late Zaha Hadid’s practice. We started to design pieces together, such as the log tables 'Table#1' and 'Table#2' (above right) and 'Ming#1' vases (right), that set the foundation for Fredrikson Stallard. We first showed our work together at 100% Design in London in 2003 and officially launched as Fredrikson Stallard with our solo show 'Gloves for an Armless Venus' at Tribeca Grand in New York in May 2005.

As a Swedish/British duo what do each of you bring to Fredrikson Stallard?
We both share the same ideologies about the avenue of design that we have carved out for ourselves. The more we work together the more everything becomes interlinked and it would be impossible to say that one or the other has a certain speciality. Ian is generally more diplomatic while Patrik is more uncompromising and together this works well.

ABOVE: Swede Patrik Fredrikson (left) and Brit talent Ian Stallard (right)
BELOW: Let there be blood. 'The Lovers' urethane rug, 2005

How would you describe your style?
Abstract Expressionistic, process-driven high design with integrity.

You’ve been associated with the ‘Design Art’ scene of the Noughties. Many have fallen by the wayside while you have blossomed. What is the key to your success?
We are truly passionate about we do – it is a strong desire we need to fulfil rather than a job – and also we never follow trends but do what we believe in. A lot of galleries and designers jumped on the so-called 'Design Art' bandwagon purely because they thought they could make money, and all of them were wiped away by the recession. We have delivered outstanding works that museums all over the globe collect to mark an important time and place and, as with any historically important art, it is paramount that it's not driven by financial gains. We have an amazing team who are just as dedicated to the arts as ourselves. We believe it's this calling that has been paramount to our success. Of course, there are financial interests in what we do, but this must never be the driving force.

ABOVE: 'Silver Crush Side Table', 2012
BELOW: 'Barbarians' by Hofesh Shechter, touring now

Who inspires you?
Life! It’s more a question of what than who. Anything from fashion to fine art shows to contemporary dance performances, and from the remote Swedish wilderness to East London's club scene. We thrive on contrasts, to live in constant energetic flux. Often people probably don't understand the creative value we put on placing ourselves into extreme alternating positions, from crazy dark debauched nights to complete serenity in our house on a cliff in the Greek archipelago. This creates an incredible emotional tension that feeds our creativity.

In terms of specific people, one that springs to mind at the moment is the choreographer Hofesh Shechter. We love the rawness of his work and the way it balances on the ridge between beauty and dark chaos.

Tell us about your new 'Gravity' collection
The 'Gravity' collection expresses traces of process, traces of a chaotic and dynamic transience captured in a moment of stillness: a record of a continuous flux that has been frozen in time. The pieces are studies of the relationship between natural and synthetic, geometric and organic, analogue and digital, sculptural and industrial, one-off and multiple.

It is a collection of functional objects where the context, process and sculptural aesthetics are paramount, as with fine art sculpture. The pieces are a symbiosis between us physically, our vision, the material and the process.

BELOW: The translucent ice-cool 'Gravity' tables, 2015, recently shown at London's David Gill Gallery; Fredrikson Stallard's new 'Camouflage' outdoor furniture for Driade, 2016


You’re launching a new furniture collection this April in Milan. Tell us more...
It’s outdoor furniture for Italian brand Driade, which we are very excited about. We feel that we have created something new. Modernism killed so many human nuances such as the importance of sculptural aesthetics that make our lives richer. With outdoor furniture the design criteria was always to be able to fold, stack and store it until the weather allowed us to spend time outside again. This collection offers not just an alternative but also a new solution, with duality that will allow the furniture to be left outside all year and enrich our environment as sculptural objects. Like a fallen tree or a flat rock, that become natural seating and tables in warmer weather but have an equally beautiful life in winter, the 'Camouflage' collection changes emphasis with the seasons. Just imagine the pieces in a snow-laden garden landscape – they would look fabulous when the snow lands on them outlining the cut-out camouflage pattern.

ABOVE: The unearthly 'Species' sofa collection, 2015, resembles an alien landscape

Which of your pieces are you proudest of?
We have a strong relationship with all the pieces we have created, so it's like trying to choose your favourite child! Probably the work we have been proudest of recently would be the incredible 'Gravity' tables and also the 'Species' sofas, especially as one has just been acquired by SFMOMA, the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art opening this May.

Is there one product you admire and wish you had designed?
We are generally more admirers of the fine arts, but one product that maybe comes to mind is the 'Taraxacum' light by Achille Castiglioni for Flos, originally designed in 1960 and revisited in 1988.

What’s your social media of choice?
Instagram.
fredriksonstallard.com

 

BARBER & OSGERBY

British duo Barber & Osgerby – aka Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby – has bagged awards for their sleekly simple, contemporary furniture, lighting and accessories. Consummate designers, they're as capable of creating a stunning chair or innovative shower control as masterminding a radical installation for London's V&A Museum or hotel or fashion store interiors via their architectural practice Universal Design Studio. We caught up with Jay for the lowdown...

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What’s your design philosophy?
Beauty through simplicity.

What’s it like working together? And what qualities do you each bring to the table?
Our design process is like a long conversation, sometimes there are just the two of us, but mostly in our busy studio there are several who participate. Ideas go back and forth between us all and soon the sketching starts and then the model-making. We are extremely lucky that we work so well together, and that we have such an amazing team with us. We obviously have our own characteristics, likes and dislikes, but we think that the combined design output of two, is greater and smarter that the sum of the two halves!

ABOVE: Edward Barber (left) and Jay Osgerby of Barber & Osgerby
ABOVE RIGHT: 'Hotaru' paper lanterns manufactured by Ozeki
BELOW FROM TOP: Barber & Osgerby's Nordic winter-inspired 'Triptych' installation for 2016's Stockholm Furniture Fair, where they were Guests of Honour; it featured their recent furniture and lighting designs, including the 'Pilot' chair for Knoll, 2015, in tactile cowhide

You’ve designed furniture, lighting, tableware, installations, a coin and even the London Olympic torch! Is there any new territory you’d like to tackle?
We’d like to design a bridge, the perfect combination of form and function, engineering and sculpture. 

Where do you get inspiration?
We get inspiration from many sources – art, sculpture, museums – but mostly through travel. When we travel we find the local flea markets, where we can discover the relics of a culture and understand how different countries and societies have created objects to do the same job but in different ways. 

BELOW FROM TOP: 'Olio' tableware for Royal Doulton, 2015, in glazed and unglazed ceramic, wood and stainless steel. 'Tobi-Ishi' occasional table for B&B Italia, 2012, in smoke-blue lacquer, white Carrara and black Marquina marble

Who are your design heroes, or which era, building or interior do you find inspiring?
There are too many to mention… and we’re always finding new ones.

What’s currently exciting you in design or style?
The return of craft, and people rediscovering how important it is for all of us to make something. We are tired of the commoditisation of all objects. We see the return of an appreciation of the small producers and the craft that goes into making. 

BELOW FROM TOP: Past designs for Vitra and Knoll, including the 'Tip Ton' chair for Vitra, 2011, and the 'Pilot' chair for Knoll, 2015

Which recent projects are you excited about?
We are always most excited about the projects that we are working on at the moment – and most of them are secret, of course. We are looking forward to launching our new tiles for Italian brand Mutina in Milan this April. The range is called ‘Puzzle’, and it’s a huge collection of abstract, colourful ceramic tiles. 

What else will you be launching at this year’s Milan Furniture Fair or beyond?
New work for Swiss brand Vitra and US firm Knoll, currently under wraps; many other new things are on the horizon. 

ABOVE FROM TOP: 'Collector Cabinets' for Glas Italia, 2015; 'Axor One' shower control for Axor, 2015

Where’s on your travel wish list and why?
I am writing this from Singapore, and in one hour I have a 13-hour flight home – so my travel wish list is to stay in London!

What’s your social media of choice and why?
I prefer to avoid social media, and if I could I would throw away my phone…
barberosgerby.com