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Piero Lissoni in Conversation

The prolific architect and designer tells editor Janice Seow what it means for him to follow ’the way of Piero Lissoni’.

Piero Lissoni in Conversation


October 12th, 2011

While in Singapore last month, Piero Lissoni told us just how he felt about having his work labeled ’minimalist’.

“Honestly it’s not so bad if they say I’m a minimalist,” muses Lissoni. “Better than I’m a prostitute, no?”

Humour aside, he says that he personally prefers the word ’simple’. “To be simple, I think, is quite complex… complexity is the private face of simplicity.”

Piero Lissoni

Designs for Pierantonio Bonacina

Being complex is to be open-minded and curious and it’s not easy, says Lissoni, adding that for a designer or architect it means to know about photography, movies, fashion, food, and life.

Piero Lissoni shared this while at the Dream showroom to present his first indoor and outdoor designs for Pierantonio Bonacina. The company was bought over 2 years ago by Matteograssi Group, which Lissoni has worked closely with since the 1980s.

Piero Lissoni

Piero Lissoni

“Pierantonio Bonacina was in the past a worldwide leader in outdoor furniture systems and they produced incredible pieces of furniture that were absolutely advanced. They used the best designers in the world; they used the best ideas for doing something special for outdoors.

“Later on they decided to move out of this business, they decided to do something for the indoor, and unfortunately lost completely soul, tradition and market,” says Lissoni.

Piero Lissoni

Already a longtime Matteograssi collaborator and also its art director, it seemed a natural step to once again call upon the talents of Lissoni in the ’redesigning’ Pierantonio Bonacina. And in so doing, Lissoni says he has sought to bring the brand back to its past strengths and focus on outdoor designs.

Piero Lissoni

He is quick to add, however, that any outcomes are not his achievements alone.

Piero Lissoni

“When I design something, I design with a strong collaboration with the factory first… we decide, I’m not alone.

“We decide in a way to use the maximum level of honesty, which means we like to use only pure material, we like to use honest material.

Piero Lissoni

“Second, I have to respect myself. Not the ego, but I’ve got to respect myself.

Piero Lissoni

Designs for Matteograssi

Lissoni also enjoys working with a given set of limitations, which he feels fuels creativity. “We are to respect qualities of factory, we are to respect the human beings inside, we are to respect cost, we are to respect time, we are to respect materials.”

Piero Lissoni

Lissoni’s designs are always clean, simple and elegant. They are unwavering in their precision yet always demonstrate a humanistic touch.

This approach is consistent across his incredible body of work, which spans entire hotels, residential complexes, corporate headquarters (including the Matteograssi HQ), yachts, and of course, furniture; the style is evident whether he designs for Matteograssi, Boffi, Cappellini, Cassina, Kartell or various other leading brands that he continues to enjoy longstanding relationships with.

Piero Lissoni

Yet, while staying true to ’Piero Lissoni’, he makes it clear that each client is different

“It doesn’t matter if they’re doing more or less something in the same level of market… each of them is different.

Piero Lissoni

“For that reason I follow the different ideology, the different qualities inside the different factories, but I have to [follow] the way of Piero Lissoni. Can you imagine somebody asking me to design something baroque? Or they ask me to use a lot of decoration?”

“I choose them but they choose me too.”

And if he has to choose between function and beauty?

“I choose beauty,” says Lissoni. “If you design a chair it’s a chair, the function’s clear. But if I design a chair that’s solely functional I forget about the function for our soul, the pleasure for our wellbeing.”

Matteograssi is available in Singapore at Dream.

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