When it comes to power couples in the design field, few are as dynamic and prolific as Italians Ludovica and Roberto Palomba writes Luo Jingmei.
Partners in life and career, the founders of Palomba Serafini Associati have under their portfolio an impressive list of clients that includes Bisazza, Foscarini, Zanotta, Pierantonio Bonacina, Zucchetti, Laufen and Boffi – just to name a few. Through a translator in the Driade showroom in Milan, Ludovica Palomba shares with Luo Jingmei her thoughts on design as well as the inspirations behind the new ‘Fenix’ modular sofa and ‘Sunrise’ outdoor collections.
’Fenix’ modular sofa
How did you come up with the name ‘Fenix’?
I don’t know. (Laughs)… How to decide the name of a project… it’s very hard usually. The sound ‘Fenix’ is very, very attractive because it’s very short. And also because the leg of the sofa reminds [me] of [a flamingo] – a very thin bird that has very long legs.
Was that the idea behind ‘Fenix’.
No. The idea for the sofa is another one. The sofas in the Draide collection are where you can sit very comfortably, chat and talk but in a very formal way. We wanted to create [pieces] for [more] relaxed movement. [Here], you can see a very [deep] seat… very soft… so you can feel cosy properly. Roberto and I are architects and designers so we always [take] an architectural approach to a project. Everything is studied and detailed. Usually you have a frontal view of the sofa but the back is [also] very important. [We’ve] done lots of private [apartment] projects and it happens so often you can have the view of the sofa from the back.
’Sunrise’ outdoor collection
Tell me about the ‘Sunrise’ outdoor collection.
Inspiration came from nature – [firstly] from the sun and how [it] reflects the shadows through the furniture onto the floor [and] secondly, a very peculiar surface made from lots of holes [inspired by] small, natural holes you can find in some stones in the sea. The collection is [also] short, [close to the ground. And] I like aluminium because it’s light [and] thin with a very good touch.
Both you and Roberto have designed products for so many sanitary brands. What do you feel consumers want nowadays in the bathroom environment?
What they want [now] is the same aesthetic you can find in [other] parts of the house. Since all the users are different, [with] different tastes and so on, we have to create lots of different things so [they] can choose. I respect totally the user. Now after designing for lots of users, we are finally designing for ourselves – our own house! I have 5 bathrooms. We have designed so many pieces in the bathroom field that we find it hard to decide which piece to use [for ourselves].
What do you like or not like about the Milan fair?
The worse thing is that I work [so hard for] one year to arrive at Salone, the week before I am destroyed. [Also] it’s too short. I would like to have 10 days. [The Salone] is very important to me because I can see, at the same time, [many] projects I have designed. From product design to exhibition design, I can see altogether how my research and the way of developing projects for the last one year has been, so it’s a moment I can have a vision. It’s a very good thing.
What is the working relationship between you and Roberto like?
It’s nice [working] with him [as] I can tell him ‘it should be this way’ and he can reply, ‘no, it shouldn’t’. I don’t know… it’s not possible to explain it. It works.
Do you think Italian design is very different from when you first started?
I don’t know because I feel I have changed a lot. I enjoy [designing] much more nowadays because I know what I can do. Now I have more consciousness [that comes with experience]. It’s like a challenge every day.
Besides design, where else do you find beauty?
I can explain beauty as the relation [between] the balance and not balanced [that] you find inside a shape… with a twist of madness made from the material of the product.
How would you describe the attitude of your designs to someone who doesn’t know about your designs?
Sensual. [And clear] like an arrow.
Palomba Serafini Associati