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 Kuwaii, Akira 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.
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.