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On Wednesday, September 17, the GRAYE showroom in Beverly Hills hosted an interesting round table on contemporary design and architecture trends, with the participation of a special guest: Italian architect and designer Piero Lissoni.
He was invited to share his views and knowledge with other representatives of these sectors, including GRAYE creative director Maria Cicione, executive director of the A+D museum Tibbie Dunbar, director of the AIA/LA Carlo Caccavale, and Angeleno Associate Publisher and Interiors California Publisher Jennifer Polachek. The event was also attended by IIC acting director, Michela Magrì, representing the local Italian Institutions and community.
Founder of the Lissoni Associates, with offices in Milan, New York, and Tokyo, Piero Lissoni graduated from the Milan Polytechnic in 1978 and since then he has worked with some of the most prestigious manufacturers such as Kartell, Boffi, and others.
What is the secret to turn ideas into commercial products and to establish a company like yours?
When I founded Lissoni Associates 25 years ago, me and my colleagues just wanted to have fun working in the fields of graphics, design, and architecture. The spirit has remained the same, today we still enjoy what we do while keeping the company’s books in balance.
In your opinion, is commercialization an ally or an enemy of art?
The truth is that our job is very different from art itself. It is a profession. Architects and designers work with the production companies throughout the creative process. We can’t create our products without a continuous dialogue and negotiation with excellent clients. Even big names like Vico Magistretti owed their success to the fruitful collaboration with great entrepreneurs and manufacturers, who transformed Italy into an industrialized country.
Do you think that the economic crisis will give a boost to production and creativity?
Economic crisis can have a double effect, changing the rules of play and forcing us to react in order to survive. This always represents a risk, especially in a country like Italy that still looks too rigid and slow to react. Whereas other countries, including the U.S., were structurally prepared and have already started to recover from the crisis, in Italy we are still talking about it.
How is your relationship with U.S. clients?
Most of my American clients are located on the East Coast, which I visit almost once a month. Last time I came to the West Coast was two years ago, instead, but I actually really like it. After Los Angeles, I will travel to San Francisco to promote the exhibition “1:1 PIERO LISSONI” that has been already presented in Tokyo and Chicago.
What is the main difference between the U.S. and European approach to design and architecture?
The European approach is based on the humanistic sensibility, which means that the architecture of a building must be designed in harmony with the interiors, the engineering and mechanical components, and even the business aspect. This synergy and collaboration in the creative process is essential for my team and me. On the contrary, the American approach is usually more specialized: for example, the architect only takes care of his or her specific portion of the project, without any dialogue with the other parties involved.
Nowadays, global travel and modern technologies enable our clients to be informed on international trends: they know what they want but we know how to create it, and this is where negotiation starts.