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

NERI&HU

Founding partners of acclaimed Shanghai architecture and design practice Neri&Hu, husband and wife Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu are also creative directors of Chinese furniture label Stellar Works and have crafted elegant modern products for a host of top global brands.

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What’s your design philosophy?
At Neri&Hu we believe in architecture and design as a powerful cultural force. We prefer the subtext over the obvious, and the poetic over the utilitarian. We always start with a concept and research it in depth, looking for traces and signs that inspire us. We are still too young to have a distinct language, so we flow in many directions depending on the specific project, but we always explore layering, transparency, texture, framing and materiality. Questions of culture and aesthetic philosophy concern us deeply and we also want to relate what we do to everyday life.

What do you each bring to the party?
Lyndon is more of a creator and Rossana a critic, which is a good combination.

ABOVE: At The Waterhouse at South Bund, Neri&Hu transformed a Thirties army headquarters in Shanghai into a rough-luxe boutique hotel

How do you balance heritage and modern to create a new Chinese aesthetic?
For us, the redevelopment – or historic renovation – projects are extremely interesting. They allow us to try different ways of interpreting culture and history, something that relates to our identity as individuals and as a collective, and to explore the contrasts between old and new. They’re also a perfect way of preserving memory, as well as creating a sustainable environment to promote healthy reuse, rather than simply demolishing and rebuilding for commercial gain.

Which recent projects are you proud of?
We’ve just designed Kuala Lumpur's Sentul Contemporary Art Museum in Malaysia, which is about monumentality and preserving urban memory, and a creative agency's headquarters for Meiré und Meiré in Cologne, Germany, which merges architectural and institutional identity.

ABOVE: Industrial-chic interiors for Kensington Street Social restaurant at The Old Clare Hotel in Sydney team raw concrete and sleek wood with brass and glass louvres

Tell us about Sydney restaurant Kensington Street Social at The Old Clare Hotel.
We were inspired by Kensington Street Social’s setting within the former Carlton & United Breweries building. We reinterpreted the brewing equipment once used there by inserting two machine-like volumes into the space. The two machine boxes rest atop a continuous concrete landscape defining the footprints of the restaurant’s tapas bar and cocktail bar. The design also takes its cues from the ‘social’ motif of chef Jason Atherton’s restaurants and architecturally treats the interior as an extension of the lively Kensington streetscape, blurring the boundaries between inside and out. 

ABOVE: Neri&Hu's graphic 'Remnant 1' (red) and 'Remnant 2' (blue) rugs for Dutch brand Moooi Carpets reflect Chinese streetscapes; 'A Cabinet of Curiosity' cabinet and 'Utility' sofa for Stellar Works; 'Jie' rugs in celadon and blue for Spain's Nanimarquina, riffing on street tile patterns

What inspires you?
We are inspired by the mundane and the ordinary. The fabric of Shanghai and the everyday activities in and around the city are a huge inspiration. The Western architectural tradition forms the basis of our education, but culturally we are very much Chinese, and that influences our work especially in China. We also like to examine local culture wherever our projects are located.

What’s currently exciting you in design or style?
Paring down to the essence of things – not simply minimalism, but keeping only the necessary while still creating an enriching spatial experience. Also exploring new materials.

ABOVE: 'Ayi' coat rack/umbrella stands for Swedish firm Offecct; the red ash 'Ming' chair for Stellar Works reinterprets trad wooden Chinese seats; Conceived as 'little butlers', 2016's 'Ren' occasional furniture collection for Italy's Poltrona Frau was inspired by the Chinese character 'ren' meaning 'people'; Co-joined 'Together' chairs for Denmark's Fritz Hansen

Who are your design heroes?
There are many contemporary giants whose work we admire. Le Corbusier is still very relevant for studying form and spaces. Carlo Scarpa continues to inspire us with his details and composition, and Adolf Loos with his clarity and rigour. Of the architects practising today, we admire the work of SANAA, Alvaro Siza, David Chipperfield and Peter Zumthor. In terms of mentors, Lyndon's thesis adviser at Harvard Graduate School of Design was Rafael Moneo and he’s definitely played a big part in moulding his take on architecture. Both of us worked at Michael Graves, which taught us a multidisciplinary design approach.

Where’s on your travel wish list? 
Malawi, Istanbul and Prague [Rossana]. Argentina and Berlin [Lyndon].

TOP: A continuous clothes rail runs around flagship fashion store Comme Moi in Shanghai, which also sports cage-like custom-made cabinets; 'Dowry' cabinets and other signature pieces for Stellar Works; 'Jian' hooded sofa for Spain's Gandiablasco against the Pudong skyline
ABOVE: The 'Bai' pendant light family for Spanish brand Parachilna encases a Chinese lantern in a modern glass bulb; A lattice of brass rods creates see-through interiors at skincare brand Sulwhasoo's Seoul store

What’s the Shanghai design scene like?
It is being infiltrated with global energy and design influences on a daily basis, and the absorption rate is extremely high. The problem that comes with this phenomenon is that people are not that critical about what they see and use, so regardless of whether things are good/bad, appropriate/inappropriate, they are all being taken on here.

What’s your social media of choice?
Instagram, I like images over words when expressing myself [Lyndon].
Weibo if at all, but trying to boycott it right now! And Instagram [Rossana].
www.neriandhu.com

Portrait: Andrew Rowat Other images: Poltrona Frau and Sulwhasoo, Pedro Pegenaute; Gandiablasco, Dirk Weiblen

For more on Neri&Hu, see our earlier post on Stellar Works

FREDRIKSON STALLARD

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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

 

ERWAN BOUROULLEC Bouroullec Brothers

French design duo Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec – aka the Bouroullec brothers – is best known for pared-down, cutting-edge furniture for brands including Artek, HAY, Iittala and Vitra. Their new I-shaped 'Serif' television for Samsung was a showstopper at this year’s London Design Festival and we predict this life-enhancing piece of tech is set to rock our world, recreating TVs as stylish furniture. Here, Erwan shares his ideas and interests.

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

Tell us about your new 'Serif TV'. What inspired the design?
The motive was to make an object that sits properly in the world we live in today. We wanted to move away from a flat black screen, while designing something in which the case was as important as the screen inside. Unlike most TVs where the frame is meant to disappear, the serif-shaped surround frames the screen like a picture.

What are your favourite features?
The struggle was to make sure that the TV was good-looking from any angle and can be moved around like any other piece of furniture in the home. The television features a fabric panel on the back to hide all the ports and wires, so it can be moved away from the wall. 

ABOVE: Erwan Bouroullec (left) with brother Ronan
BELOW: The duo's first foray into electronics has resulted in the 'Serif TV', the world's first typographic television; Looks like puss knows a good thing when she sees it...

Sum up your style in three words.
Accessible, poetic, elegant. There is a rational approach to the way that Ronan and I work, so I would say our style is more connected with method. The shape follows from the way in which the product is built. 

What’s influencing your work right now?
More and more, we are striving for a radical approach, reworking things that affect everyday life. The 'Serif' is a good example of this. It is something that people are surprised by and want to discuss, yet they like it and want it too. 

ABOVE: Sketches, fabric samples and maquettes for the 'Serif TV'; A spot of serenity amid the organised chaos of the Bouroullecs' studio

Describe your workspace.
Incredibly messy, which even to me is surprising. I imagined that as I got older I would become more organised but, in fact, I quite like the studio to keep a degree of unprofessionalism. It keeps us off a predetermined track and preserves our creativity. 

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Who are your design heroes?
I don’t have a passionate view on design heroes as such. Of course, in the Fifties, the Americans were fundamental and also the Nordic countries with Jacobsen, Aalto and Wegner. On the dark side, a little later, the Italians were like what Punk was to the music scene. Mario Bellini was a really important figure but most recently I really respect Jasper Morrison (right). His designs from the Eighties have shaped what is happening in design right now. 

Where do you find inspiration?
In making things. I spend most of my time in the studio working on a project. 

Are you always thinking about design?
Always, except when I read each night to reset my mind for a while. I have a couple of science fiction books on the go, Code Source by William Gibson and Grande Jonction by Maurice G. Dantec.

Your biggest must-have in a home is…
A kitchen. It is the most social place of the home. For me, cooking is a time when you connect with the elements – fire, water, flesh, earth and scent. It has the same kind of energy as sculpting, where things are happening and you can’t think twice. 

ABOVE FROM LEFT: The 'Palissade' range of outdoor furniture for Danish brand HAY was a big hit at Maison & Objet in September; The 'Kaari' wall shelf from the Bouroullecs' first collection for Artek, which launched at the Stockholm Furniture Fair in February

Is there anything you wish you had designed? 
Since we designed the TV, I feel our design philosophy is suited to a more technical subject. I would be very happy to design a car. 

If you weren't a designer, what might you have been?
When I was a student I used to look after young kids at summer camp. We were always doing stuff like building kites. It was really amazing.

What’s your social media of choice? 
I don’t post anything myself but I like to go on Instagram, as does Ronan. People often upload shots of our products and it is always pleasing to see their comments on how they are enjoying them at home. If the cat loves it, then so do we.
bouroullec.com  samsung.com

'Serif TV x Samsung' is available in 24", 32" and 40" sizes from 2 November 2015.