20 June 2016

Interview to Piero Lissoni at Porro showroom Milan

During MDW16 days we were invited to pop in Porro showroom, the appointments are always many during that week, but we managed to plan the interview with one of the historical Italian designer of our era, Piero Lissoni, who founded his studio Lissoni Associati in 1986 together with Nicoletta Canadesi, and so far his studio worked on architecture, product and graphic projects, varying from furniture, to accessories, kitchens, bathrooms, lighting, corporate identity, publicity, catalogues, websites for hotels, showrooms, stands, private residential, stores, and yachts. Here his vision about the design world of today, in a strict link with the Italian industry.

How did your working relationship with Porro start?

The collaboration with Porro started almost 30 years ago, and in a very simple way,with trials, meetings and dialogues, sometimes you argue and sometimes you decide to go on, and so far it has continued for almost 30 years.

What is exactly your role in the company?

I am the art director, I take care of everything that comes out of Porro, everything is designed by myself: graphic, stand, objects and systems.

What makes Porro different from other companies of the same sector?

We arrive always first, everything you see is made before any other, they all arrive a bit later on the same arguments.

Do you work with a team?

There is no job that can be done by one single person, we have a very strong team inside the company, and also a studio, and we confront each other on daily bases, it is a discussion, there is not a romantic idea of waking up in the morning with a concept, it is a process in constant development.

Therefore do you think a furniture company would be able to exist without a creative department?

Every company has got an internal team, it is impossible for it to not develop a thought, the internal team is the intelligence of the company, without this intelligence you can not make products. Lissoni Associati is my studio in Milan, NY, and Tokyo, but the Milanese part is the one handling the heaviest part of the design, we design conceptual parts, but without an internal creative office we do not go anywhere. The beauty of being a designer is tied to the quality of the company, without this there is not design quality. The company without a creative team is purely engineering, and does not have a soul, if the company is not able to think in this terms then designers are not useful.

Which one between the disciplines of your studio (architecture, product and graphic) makes feel you more involved?

I was born as architect at Politecnico di Milano, and we were raised to be interdisciplinary, to use an humanistic metric in our professor, therefore I do not have a specific preference, I love architecture, but I also like working with spaces and objects inside the spaces, the constant change of the working scale is the beauty of being an architect in my opinion.

Don’t you believe the lack of specialization could be a weakness in the design process?

The British model of super specialization has definitely improved or exasperated the quality of the project, but I stay linked to my own model, which is humanist, and I am not interested in excelling in everything, I am interested in being good or at least supportive in everything.

The British model has never historically foreseen contaminated or hybrids figures, it has always tried to lead towards specialization, to do things extraordinarily well, and that works in countries with an ordinated mentality, but in countries like ours, which made a very strong cultural system, we are prepared to be virtually messy, I prefer the second system to the first one. A doctor that can operate perfectly an hand, but does not know how to deal with you when you have the fever, makes me worried.

Do you think the industry brings a value to this contamination?

Absolutely yes, anyway if you consider, for example, the British designers, let’s take in exam only them, not all the world but only British designers, where do they work? In Italy. With which companies? Italian. These are questions you sometimes should make to yourself, they can be super specialized, but if there was not the industrial, ideal, and creative quality of Italian companies they would not have come out. Jasper Morrison has been discovered by Giulio Cappellini, the same for Tom Dixon and Mark Newson.

What do you think of the fact that the famous designers today are mostly British and not Italians as before?

The Italian companies are not chauvinist and they look for quality wherever they find it. If they find quality in the USA they take it, if they find quality (I mean intellectual) in Germany they take it, if they find it in the UK they take it, if they do not find it in Italy they do not look for it here. This thing of quality is a marvel happening in the Italian design system, it is not the same for French people, who do not work with you if you are not French, and a bit also with British and Germans, in Italy if you are German and you work well you get hired. There is a very strong sense of meritocracy.

Last question, do you have anything inspiring you daily?

Life is more than enough, it is a good source of inspiration, and especially it is frightfully creative, and every minute it invents something new.