Second day at Fuorisalone, the weather in Milan is hot already, the time is strict and we have to run to be at Paola C. showroom for 11.00, where we are meeting with Aldo Cibic, one of the Italian designers who made the history. Getting to know someone on a book first and in person after brings your curiosity up. Finally we arrive, Aldo Cibic is a smiley person open to conversation and to the exploration of concepts and opinions on the design reality of today and yesterday. A state of mind who convinces you to not stop to love and do what you like the most.
Where does your latest series Suggestions get inspiration from?
Suggestions is an anthology of new pieces by Paola C., which keeps in consideration the pleasure of using things. The key words around this collection are: joy, everyday life, and value. Here the objects are exhibited in groups of functions: jug, cups, bowls, tea set, tray.. they are all grouped under single themes.
How did the collaboration with Paola C. started? How did it develop?
We officially started together in the ’99. I had designed some pieces a few years before, and Paola decided she liked them and she wanted to put them into production, so here is how the first ceramic collection was born, after that we moved to glass at the beginning of 2000s, and later to metal. Now we collaborate with different designers, such as my nephew Matteo Cibic, and Jamie Hayon, but we also had a long period of collaboration with schools, such as the Royal College of Art in London, and the Tonji University in Hong Kong. I used to teach there so we organised the first exhibition of Chinese designers in Milan in 2003/2004. Moreover we made productions also with the University of Bolzano and Fabrica. Two years ago instead we started the cycle of collections with renown designers, such as Hayon, his collection is having a great success, both the centrepiece Colosseum and the Titus vases are best sellers.
Why are you products successful in your opinion?
I have to say that at around the ’92-’93 I produced myself my very first collection, with the name standard, which then became the starting collection of Paola C. as well. That collection was made of objects for everyday life, characterised by the pleasure of using them, at the time I designed those pieces according to my own lifestyle. I can not cook, but I liked the idea to have an elegant situation at the table, at the time there were these plates, that recently went out of production, which had a low relief on the surface, that because I liked to have toasts, and putting them hot on that plate avoided condensation. I also made high salad bowls (still in production) because I did not like when the salad ended up on the tablecloth. From that point more iconic pieces came out, such as the spheric carafe (Piggy ndr.), which then resulted to be a perfect decanter for wine, thanks to its particular opening the wine could maintain its taste. Later on we had more playful pieces, my favourites, such as Dino and Little Dino. Therefore I an say the strength of our products is always linked to the idea of feeling comfortable combined to a sophisticated use of the object.
Also the trend of heading towards a design with a Mediterrean feeling characterise us, today we are overwhelmed by a nordic design, which is quite cold, the research of Paola in a way and my own in another way is to be much softer, more doughy, and seductive. In my opinion we need to recover an Italian character that takes back to De Chirico, Carrà, and the Metaphysic; signs that came from the fascist period, but that have their own solidity. We are more that, if you want to link yourself to nordic minimalism either you live in that way, being clinical, devoted to a paranoid perfection, or you leave it. The minimalism does not accept imperfections, this being translated into the making of objects and design, means you need to consider the research of pleasure, of a relationship with the object. I do not want to mystify, but there is the idea to correspond to what we culturally are, to identity and sensoriality.
Do you think this is a characteristic we lost compared to the past?
I grew up with Sottsass, the scandal of Memphis was the research of sensoriality, it was something coming out of this idea of rationalism, but at the end it is beautiful to translate into objects things that evokes you something. I do love colours, and I do love the concept of enjoying what you have, which is not something you can give for granted, and not even a status, but it is a prosthesis of your life. My intent is to manage to make a feeling of pleasure pass through the object. I do not want to toot my own horn, but Philippe Starck with his lemon squeezer (Juicy Salif ndr) realised an object which you can only show off but not really use, the spheric carafe instead (Piggy ndr) is a joy to have on the table. In synthesis what you enjoy is doing something that makes you happy, and this happiness can be lived by someone else which does not even know who you are. I have just turned 60, and I met Sotsass when he was my own age, at the time he used to say “I want to become even more radical of what I am”, this to say: “Do what you are to be always right”. It is hard, and committing to say no to something, but if you do what you are, you are always sure to be on the right way; that because that kind of honesty always comes through, all the rest, the words, is easy to be sussed out if it is not the truth.