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The Irrepressible Fabio Novembre

Luo Jingmei speaks with Fabio Novembre about his new chairs for Driade, fatherhood and being a positive designer.

The Irrepressible Fabio Novembre


June 18th, 2012

Love them or hate them, Fabio Novembre’s designs grab your attention with their bold and sensual designs. Likewise, his new chairs – the ‘36h’ easy chair and ‘56’ rocking chair – for Driade are equally unconventional but fun forms of outdoor seating. The fast-talking, expressive Italian designer shares with Luo Jingmei the inspiration behind the design, amongst other things.

On the name ‘36h’ and ‘56h’.

You definitely need to appreciate more, the fact that there is a person behind the making of something. We underestimate this because we don’t really give a value to the manual work. I decided to put it in the title to underline the importance of the craftsman to the role of the designer. It was like a homage to the people who made it. Then apart from it there is my thinking behind the object: it’s like ‘Mediterranean Origami’! (Laughs)… [like how] pasta is usually flattened, cut into pieces and then you give shape to them. It’s really the same way my grandmother used to make homemade pasta. There’s a lot of eroticism as well [to] the two pieces. But at the same time, eroticism has a lot to do with food.

Fabio Novembre

On the choice of colour for the chairs.

I wanted to use the colours you find outside – the colour of the stones, the colour of the sky. I wanted to make it really light, really pleasant. Usually I use palettes that are a bit more dramatic but [for] this, I wanted to make it a bit softer, friendlier.

Fabio Novembre

Fabio Novembre

‘36h’ and ‘56h’ chairs (2012) for Driade

On writing as his preferred tool for design rather than drawing.

I am not able to sketch. To me, writing is very important. It’s like writing a script of a movie: your aim is to tell a story, not to shoot images and edit them together. Everybody finds his own way [of communicating]. I believe the fact that I’m not good at drawing made me love ideas. I fall in love with ideas. I don’t’ fall in love with shapes. And ideas are not about yourself; it’s about the whole world… something you share with people.

On fatherhood.

You know, definitely my sensibility is [now] different. I was born in a family [with] three brothers and one sister. Imagine – my home has always had a high level of testosterone. So finding my wife and having my daughters really gave me the feminine side, which is gentler, more [harmonious]. And we never force them [to absorb design]. I believe it’s terrible for children of people good in their jobs to [be forced] to follow the paths of their parents. They have to [carry] a burden coming from the heritage of their parents. I don’t want this for my daughters. I want to help them choose what fits them, not what fits me.

On the decision to become an architect.

I decided to become an architect for one simple reason: because I believe in a world that is getting flatter. Architects have become the last defenders of the third dimension. You know, we build spaces; we make three-dimensional things; and at the same time, everything is getting flatter – computer screens, TV… I always say, in the end, we make children hugging and kissing each other, you know what I mean? This is something we cannot forget. That’s why I love architecture. That’s why I love space.

Fabio Novembre

Fabio Novembre

Nemo chair (2010) for Driade

On being a positive designer.

I always say the world is divided into two categories: the builders and the destroyers. So first of all, you have to understand who you are – do you belong to the builders’ side or the destroyers’ side? I belong to the [former]. I understood that a long time ago, so my task is to go for the positive. We have to balance the negative energy around.

On having a relaxed attitude toward design.

I’m [immune] to pressure. I’m 45 years old. I believe that this is the time for wisdom, not the time for stress. I know it’s a matter of the right attitude.

Fabio Novembre

Robox (2011) for Casamania

On design and the media.

The media is great because as a young designer, even if you do a rendering, it can go all over the world. It’s very good [for] the development of ideas, the spread of communication. But at the same time, it’s an illusion, because the main [aim] is to make [the design] real. From the drawing to the [final product] there is a life in between. It’s something young designers don’t understand. Of course I know [designs] have to be communicated and that is done through images. But I prefer to make images of reality and not renderings.

Driade is available in Singapore at Space Furniture.

Check out issue 56 of Cubes, out now at Singapore newsstands.

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