Designers can only reinterpret things and this is what I have been doing. Recently, I have been moving in a slightly different direction. I like materials to look like what they are, metals to look like metals and not be plastic with a metallic finish, materials pretending to be something different. I am not interested in props that photograph well. I usually leave surfaces untreated, allowing them to change with the elements over the course of time. I sometimes accelerate the process by working with patinas. I recently started using colour, although not in the form of paint. In the Fontana Amorosa collection, for example, the red is a brass patina. In the past, my focus was to begin with the materials – brass, chrome and glass. Now the emphasis is often on colour first; it’s a natural evolution. It’s an extension of the same philosophy.
A lot of the designs for Fontana Amorosa start from the floor. The light is on the ground and the actual fixture is standing on the light. This creates a sense of insecurity, a fragility and tension that I really respond to: you don’t expect lights to be on the floor. At the same time, there’s an incredible lightness about it – the object almost looks as if it’s flying. This is an entirely conscious choice: it’s about the tension between the actual positioning of the light and where it is expected to be.
My lighting brand has existed for ten years; I’ve been collaborating with Flos and its CEO Piero Gandini since 2011. He’s an incredible person; his personality is explosive, he is passionate and makes things happen. Working with Flos has been the first opportunity I’ve had to collaborate with a big company. Although this involves the production of objects on a much larger scale, the philosophy remains the same.
If anything, I think that working with Flos has allowed me to engage with more technological products, as with the String Lights or with Arrangements, which I designed for the company and launched at Euroluce this year.
This is something I haven’t been able to do with my own brand, as it is difficult to justify the investment in highly complex products with smaller manufacturing runs.
I’ve lived in London since graduating and this is where my studio is. There are eight people in the company as a whole, four working with the brand and four working with me in the design studio. For years, my house was both my living space and my working space. This year we finally decided that it was time to move into a new location giving us the opportunity to grow as a company. I had simply run out of space to put everybody. When I started my brand ten years ago, it was just me. It was something I created and worked on by myself for years. Since then, the brand has grown, slowly at first but in the last two or three years we’ve expanded a lot.