C: Favourite music artist or band?
S: The Stone Roses
C: A cocktail?
S: An excellent gin and tonic with a slice of lime and a few juniper berries.
C: Let’s move on to design … minimalism or maximalism?
S: I have no prejudices; I love minimalism, but coming from a baroque city like Lecce, I also have an approach that, at times, I recognise as maximalist. It does not mean that the two things cannot coexist, so I would say “minimal maximalism” – a perfect balance between the clean form and the peculiarity of the details, sometimes, of the decoration.
C: The master or the masters of design who made you who you are today?
S: As I said, different facets coexist in me and I have very different interests. I appreciate Mari and Castiglioni, Mangiarotti and also Sottsass, Memphis and Superstudio. I like everything they managed to interpret during the time they lived in, creating a very precise and unique language.
C: Favourite architecture or monument?
S: I am lucky enough to live in Milan, very close to the church of Saints Giovanni Battista and Paolo, by the architects Figini and Pollini. It is a monument that has always fascinated me: a rigid, square, monolithic structure, but with a character anchored in the territory, with its facade covered in red bricks. The interior is in dissonance with the exterior – the same minimalist rigour, but without the warm aspect of the brick, leaving room for reinforced concrete. The light cuts emphasise some emblematic corners such as the tabernacle, restoring the sacredness of the place.
"The result is often much more than a lamp: an object with a unique and studied design, with a strong evocative capacity and with an unmistakably Italian style."
C: What does it mean to design a lighting product?
S: Designing light is always a captivating challenge, and also full of attention and care. Shadows and light are about simplicity, attention to detail and rules to follow. SERVOMUTO stands out from large-scale production brands because it has always pursued an ambitious goal: to revisit a classic object such as the lampshade with a playful and dreamy gaze; but in the realisation, marrying it with an almost sartorial rigour.
The result is often much more than a lamp: an object with a unique and studied design, with a strong evocative capacity and with an unmistakably Italian style. Just like in a haute couture atelier, the lamps come to life with the use of noble materials and fine fabrics that are skilfully combined, while experimenting with unusual colours and textures. The stylistic choices are emphasised by the proudly handcrafted workmanship: from the curved metal structures to the plissé, the finishes applied by expert seamstresses, the “handmade” look is more authentic than ever. This is the reason why Servomuto has become a reference brand for a certain way of designing lighting; this is why it is now so much imitated.
C: How was it and how is it working with Contardi?
S: Since the first contacts, from the first exchanges of ideas, it has always been a pleasure to work with Contardi. A healthy company with an elaborate structure, which however manages to maintain a direct and intimate approach, a network of connections, and a human relationship with designers – this is the key to the success of collaborations that often endure.
The attitude in facing and solving the small difficulties of the work, and in finding solutions that always reflect the project proposed by the designer; always putting respect for the work and people first – these are certainly the strengths of Contardi that involved me and … I was hooked!
C: How was the collection born? What inspired you?
S: I was asked to think of a series of outdoor lamps that would have the elegance and refinement typical of a home furnishing lamp which was then transferred outside – as if, therefore, it was used in a decontextualised way. I thought of some very popular decorations in the 70s: the stems of Typha, a plant typical of marshy areas, that characterises and evokes the banks of rivers and lakes. Dried, it was easy to find in the interiors of town houses due to its elegant and durable shape. The Lagoon family is inspired by the rigour, beauty and simplicity of Typha. The three heights and the different sizes of Lagoon allow the lamps to live in a group, creating a “luminous forest” just like the Typha weed vegetation; while the linear shape of the lampshades emphasises the fabrics chosen to characterise and identify them.
C: Three words with which you would describe your product for Contardi.
S: Iconic, warm and unique.
C: What will lighting be like in the future?
S: In this historical moment, thinking of light as an energy source, I would like to provocatively answer: “expensive!” More seriously, thinking about design in the lighting sector, I think we need to consider about low-consumption sources, renewable energies, invest in and implement research on solar energy applied to product design. It is undeniable that the approach must be aimed at safeguarding the environment, using eco-sustainable materials – even, perhaps, recycled and recyclable ones.
My wish is that above all, we proceed towards a more conscious and lasting form of design.