SALONE DEL MOBILE ’17 PART 3
INTERVIEW WITH TOPDESIGNER PIERO LISSONI
The third and last part of my ‘Salone ’17 Series’ concerns an interview with my design hero
Piero Lissoni. Obviously it was meant to be: to meet him this time, since I missed him
earlier at his Living Divani presentation at Noort Interieur in Holland.
Because in Milan, barely half an hour later since I set foot in Italy for the first time in my life,
I suddenly got the opportunity to interview him in the showroom of Porro. Could not say no!
Right place, right time
Imagine a girl who loves Italian design, setting foot in Italy for the very first time, in a bus, with a friend, in the middle of Milano’s design district, stuck in traffic at Via Durini. And there she sees the most beautiful showrooms of the world’s leading Italian toplabels, like B&B Italia, Cassina, Georgetti and Porro. This is not even like her candy store; it is like her candy city! And by the way: that girl is me.
I asked my friend if she would mind stepping out of the bus and just walk through this street. Before I knew, she was already at the door, pulling her suitcase and pushing the red button to get out. A true friend. She understood. We needed to go to the press conference at Masterly – The Dutch in Milano at three o’clock. It was now a quarter past one, so we would be on time at the Palazzo Franceso Turati for sure, she said.
“MILAN IS NOT JUST A CANDY STORE,
IT IS MORE LIKE MY CANDY CITY!”
And I really cannot explain why, but from all those beautiful stores at Via Durini, I picked out Porro to go inside. When I entered the hall, there was this lady asking me if I was a journalist. I said: “Yes, I am”. Because I am. Well, actually, I’m a blogger; a modern journalist so to speak. And then the lady said I was not on her list. I could tell, because for me this was unplanned. So I gave her my business card and then she confirmed with: “Mr. Lissoni is on his way. You have to be patient, but if you like, you can interview him in about half an hour.”
I looked at my friend, who was looking at me with her big questioning eyes and I said: ‘Holy smoke, I have an interview with Mr. Piero Lissoni!”. She said: “Well, I don’t know who Mr. Piero Lissoni is, but you’re looking kind of excited….?” After my quick summary, she was just as excited as I was. So then we started laughing but soon after that I also started to get nervous. Because I was totally unprepared for this to happen!
Breath in, laugh, and breath out
That afternoon apparently a press moment was planned. Lucky me! And indeed, some big media companies entered the showroom as well. For instance, I saw the Wall Street Journal coming in with big microphones, cameras and screens…. I only had an iPhone and a piece of paper….. Breath in, laugh and breath out….
I decided to ask the lady at the desk for a guided tour so that I could at least write down some topics and somehow prepare myself. After that, I sat down to wait my turn and another incredible thing happened: the owner of Noort Interieur entered the showroom. Nico van Duijn and Piero Lissoni know each other and I just saw Piero thinking when he saw me saying hello to Nico….: “Who is that girl?”
When it was my turn to interview Piero, he came towards me and asked me if I would like to have a drink. While I said he might be thirsty after so many talks. “Oh, I’m used to that and of course it is good that we have so much world wide attention. Although I am a designer, most of the time I’m busy with leading my company, inspiring my employees and marketing.”
And already for more than 30 years! How do you find the energy? “I am lucky to have a talent. I want to make full use of that. Besides that, I still feel young and vigorous.”
I saw a twinkle in his eyes. We sat down next to each other and took a sip of the water. What a lovely start of an interview.
Esthetics showed as a religion
“Can you tell me about your beautiful new designs for Porro? In general, I can see a lot of your characteristics, but surprisingly you added some colors. They remind me of our Dutch Master painters: dark red, blue, ochre….”
Piero: “I like contemporary designs; simple and elegant. For me, it is all about beauty. Italian people live for esthetics; everything has to look beautiful, sensual and interesting. It is kind of a religion. It is in our DNA. My grandfather used to say: always be elegant and make sure you look well dressed every minute of the day.
You noticed very well, I did add some more color to my designs. But it is not that I suddenly wake up and think: let’s add some more color. Designing is a continues process and what you see here, is actually just the evolution of myself. This is where I stand at this moment.
For this collection, I combined various thoughts and ideas. For instance, we colored the wood in such a way that it lost its original expression. With the outcome that it has a total new surface now. Modern yet refined.”
Back in time and into the future
“You are presenting your collection under the name ‘Romantic Flower Power’. And I saw you made use of fabrics with flowers, but I also see you hid them in the guts of the wardrobes. That made me curious: what was the idea, the concept?”
Piero: “I wanted to do something with fabrics. Because vaguely I remember the wardrobes inside the house of my grandparents, where I grew up. From the inside they ware upholstered with linen with flower prints on it. Very typical for the ’40-ies and ’50-ies. I tried to capture that nostalgia with flower patterns in a night blue color on beautiful Japanese silk.”
Love it! Imagine Piero Lissoni being inspired by fragments from his childhood. Such a striking contrast with how he thinks about the future: “It will be a huge challenge for us to keep immortalizing our cultural ideology in our designs and to meet the quality- and service requirements we demand. Including new technologies, innovations and developments. We will have to continue being progressive and prepared to take risks. I learned that from my grandfather as well.”
I conclude Piero’s grandfather must have been a wise man.
Meanwhile, the ladies who organized the press meetings, got a little anxious; they were wondering why we were talking for such a long time already. Well, let’s just say some days just takes a whole other twist. So, because we could not stop talking, at one point the ladies interrupted and asked me to conclude with one last question. I asked him if he would like me to take him to Masterly, for the Dutch presentations. Unfortunately, his agenda was fully booked (of course, but I could give it a try, right?) but he would try anyway and also he invited me for next year’s press moment at Salone. Surely, the ticket is already booked!
Biography Piero Lissoni
Piero Lissoni was born in 1956 and studied architecture at the Milan Polytechnic, where he graduated in 1978. As from 1984 he designed for Boffi, where he also became the Art Director. A few years later he founded Lissoni Associates, together with designer Nicoletta Canesi.
He is well-known for his minimalistic designs and worked with many leading design labels, such as Cassina, Kartell, Living Divani, B&B Italia, Baxter and Porro.