Q&A With Italian Interior Architect Pierluigi Colombo
January 11, 2013
Note: This interview originally appeared January 8, 2013 in Ron Barth’s Resource Furniture blog at Huffington Post.
With our mutual vision, mission and drive to reinvent space, I thought it more than fitting to sit down with Italian architect Pierluigi Colombo, interior designer of “LaunchPad,” featured in the upcoming exhibition Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers, opening to the public January 23, 2013, a The Museum of the City of New York. Pierluigi is also the Design & Art Director at Clei s.r.l.
Huffington Post: You wear a lot of creative hats–architect, designer, and art director. What do you consider the key to be successful in each of these roles?
Pierluigi Colombo: All architects, designers and artists create with an idea and with a soul; a comprehensive process achieved with clear language. And it doesn’t matter which language that is.
HuffPost: How would you define your design aesthetic?
P.C.: If I had to define it in one sentence, I’d say it was a resource of proportions; in pure forms with a strong use of color and texture.
HuffPost: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your experience as a designer?
P.C.: To play in a creative way within the limits of the materials and the technology available.
HuffPost: Let’s talk about your personal living space a bit. What, if anything, makes it unique?
P.C.: I consider myself quite lucky to live in a 1930s flat in Milan, Italy, with high ceilings and large windows. In designing my own space, it was stimulating to create a dialogue using modern language with the memory of the history of the original structure. If I had to choose the most unique space it would be the living room, which features a round wall corresponding beautifully to the round façade of the deco building.
HuffPost: Does each piece of your work boast your signature?
P.C.: I don’t believe so, no. Each design speaks to its own sense of style. My aesthetic guideline always goes back to my use of materials and technology.
HuffPost: Your furniture designs come off as quite contemporary. How does this style address the issues of a more traditional space?
P.C.: When you’re designing within more traditional interior and urban architecture, you may choose to replicate the existing style, or choose to be a bit more courageous by creating a stimulating space with a contemporary language. I believe having the resource of an armory of styles can be terribly predictable and boring. An object with its own identity, if it is well chosen, has the power to generate surprise and to give new energy to the space in which it is placed. Clei furniture, due to the multiple functions and design, has a strong potential in this direction.
HuffPost: Considering the multi-faceted use of your transformable pieces, what is the first step in your design process for creating this type of furniture?
P.C.: At Clei, our goal is to improve living space for homeowners and apartment dwellers. To accomplish this we create objects that enable use of the home space in a more exciting, as well as functional way. The first step in this process is the identification of a concept, followed by the aesthetic development. The most difficult part of this process is to define the object in terms of function and cost. What follows is a long journey together with our mechanical engineers throughout each step in product development.
HuffPost: Italian design can be very distinct. Would you say the discernible features of your designs are typical of, or exclusive to this Italian aesthetic?
P.C.: My designs speak a more universal language. While they may begin with my Italian take on things, they truly are more about the attention to detail, the choice of materials, the integration and interaction with the technology.
HuffPost: How long have you been designing furniture and how have things changed?
P.C.: I began my collaboration with Clei in 1994, so nearly two decades. In more recently years, sophistication of technology has enabled me to achieve a higher aesthetic in my work.
Having collaborated with Pierluigi Colombo over many years, I can tell you that his responses are clearly consistent with his designs — spare and to the point with great function and meaning.