The constant search for a balance between form and function continues to shape the interior design and architecture industry. With this in mind, we opened a series of events called DineDesign at our showroom in Orbassano (TO), with the aim of exploring the connection between design and the kitchen.
On October 5th, we inaugurated the series of meetings with a very special guest: architect and internationally renowned designer, Roberto Palomba, winner of the prestigious Compasso d'Oro, the highest recognition in the field of design.
The presence of the renowned architect allowed us to address an interesting topic for our industry, but also for those who want to transform their home or commercial space into a personal, functional, comfortable, and aesthetically appealing environment. The evening focused on Good Design, the bridge between creativity and utility, between art and functionality, a symphony of aesthetics and innovation destined to improve the quality of our lives. Roberto Palomba guided us through his extraordinary journey, enlightening us on the challenges and opportunities that characterize the industry, all in an atmosphere of elegance and refinement. Our showroom was the ideal stage for this extraordinary meeting, a celebration of the beauty and practicality that define Good Design.
We don't want to summarize the evening, but we want to let Roberto Palomba speak for himself, as we interviewed him. Be inspired by the words of the renowned designer: continue reading.
Q: Architect, you define your approach to design as "holistic." Can you explain what you mean by that and how this vision is applied in the design process? Can you give us some examples?
RB: Holistic means this: we belong to a category of people, namely Italian designers, who are different from international ones. The Italian designer has learned to deal not only with the creation of the product but also with everything surrounding the launch of the product: addressing production problems, finding the right cost-benefit compromise, creating storytelling, working on the image of the products, developing them, and introducing them to the market. This approach gives Italian design a different value because we have a more concrete understanding of the product and everything that concerns its life, both in the production part and in its development when it enters people's homes or commercial spaces. This holistic approach makes our studies more complicated, rich in skills and different characters, but by working together, we have the opportunity not to be better than foreign designers but certainly more complete.
Q: In an interview with AD in 2021, you predict a future of the "nomad" home, like the shell that every snail carries throughout its life. What could be (or already is), in your opinion, the consequences of this vision from a design perspective?
RB: Nomadism is a word that has always fascinated me a lot. I was born in Sardinia, studied in Rome, married a Roman, moved to Verona, had a daughter, and then went to Milan. I spend half of my time on airplanes, so I have a completely uprooted vision of my life. I cannot imagine spending 36 hours in the same place. I have always had the idea that the context is something fragile. I have noticed how in the United States they do not have the concept of belonging to a place: often furniture is rented, people do not understand the emotional connection with objects, with the house, with space. On the contrary, when I work for Poltrona Frau, I start from the principle that the products must be passed on to future generations. For me, the idea of nomadism can be positive in the sense that it means having the opportunity to live many lives and therefore have experiences in different places, but it becomes a design problem when you have to think about a durable object and give the end-users the opportunity to create a strong bond with that object. When you have to design a product that must have nomadic characteristics, you have to start from the assumption that you have to give it an emotional dimension through elements of customization and personalization: the end-user must strongly appropriate that object, and of course, it must be durable.
Q: This concept is simple to apply to small objects, but in reality, can it also be applied to objects of different sizes?
RB: Certainly, through the design, for example, of modular sofas, it is more difficult to transport a fixed sofa from one house to another. It becomes easier to transport and adapt a modular sofa according to needs. I myself own a sofa from Poltrona Frau that I have adapted several times in my various lives, adding and removing modules.
Q: In the same 2021 interview, you talk about your home, where, for example, the walk-in closets are located at the entrance of the house and not, as one might expect, in the sleeping area. What is the reason behind this choice?
RB: Starting from the assumption that I live in Milan, I conceive the walk-in closet as a place of decantation, so it must be located near the entrance, preferably accessible with a more or less invisible door so that when I arrive home in the evening after the chaos of Milan, I can immediately get comfortable and start my evening life.
Q: When we talk about design, we often refer to the interior, understood as the space in which people spend most of their lives. However, there is a whole field of design focused on the outdoors, and its realizations for Talenti, for example, confirm this. How does the design approach change when working on outdoor spaces, and what are the elements to consider when deciding to furnish an outdoor space?
RB: My first approach to the outdoors was thanks to a collaboration with Talenti, a reality that I greatly respect. I discovered that it was a world still to be explored. The crazy thing - to answer your question - is that we thought about outdoor furniture as if it were indoor furniture. We had great help from companies producing accessories: one of the most limiting elements, for example, was fabric. It was made of plastic and had an unpleasant feel. So, the revolution came from the discovery of additional textiles, then came the ropes, weavings, and much more. Nowadays, many companies use fabrics originally designed for indoors, clearly with exceptional characteristics such as stain resistance. Moreover, the outdoor, having to face external elements, is also quite deconstructible, and this allows for a certain value from a sustainability perspective.
Q: Today we are here at the headquarters of Format Progetti Abitativi, which is a modular "multi-space" where different realities coexist, but it also stems from the experience of trading high-end design furniture elements. The role of those who offer final consumers furnishing solutions is certainly important. What are the aspects that those who perform this type of mediation should consider most?
And furthermore, in working and designing for others, how much, in your opinion, should the designer or design consultant accommodate the client's desires, and how much should they try to convey their own vision and knowledge of the industry?
RB: The client should choose the architect based on their taste, by developing a sort of micro-culture about the designer's approach to design, rather than choosing based on name or fame. A good designer is aware that spaces must function, so they are capable of designing a person's life without just looking at aesthetics. Sometimes the client may not understand certain needs, and it is our job to explain to them what is useful for their own needs. In this sense, a certain trust and harmony between the designer/architect and the end-user are fundamental.
Q: How do ideas come about? What is the creative process?
RB: They come about out of necessity when they reflect a need. When I design a product, I always ask myself how useful its creation is. Nowadays, I think there are too many products. To make a quality product, time is needed: to think about it, produce it, industrialize it, and make it accepted by the market. We should increasingly think about the end-user, in this way fewer products would be released, but they would be of excellent quality, and above all, we would be able to make many more objects pass the test of time, as they would represent the human being in all its aspects.
Roberto Palomba is an internationally renowned architect and designer, a prominent figure in the contemporary design landscape. With an extraordinary career spanning decades, Palomba is known for his remarkable ability to combine creativity and functionality in every creation.
Since his education, Palomba has shown an innate passion for design and architecture. Graduating in architecture from the University of Naples, he consolidated his position in the world of design by working in tandem with the talented Ludovica Serafini. Together, they founded the studio Palomba Serafini Associati, which continued to gain international renown thanks to their extraordinary collaborations.
Their unique vision and commitment to innovation have made them winners of the prestigious Compasso d'Oro, the highest recognition in the field of design. Roberto Palomba is recognized for his central role in defining the concept of "Good Design," and his influence endures in the contemporary design industry.
Palomba's projects are exemplary of his ability to combine aesthetics and functionality. Thanks to his creative vision and innovative spirit, he continues to shape the surrounding environment with works that combine beauty and utility.
Today, Roberto Palomba remains an iconic figure in the world of design, with a lasting legacy and a design vision that continues to inspire professionals and enthusiasts worldwide." We interviewed him at the first DineDesign meeting.