Giovannoni has been long associated with Italian brand, Alessi, for which he designed a great number of best-selling pieces worldwide. The fruitful collaboration allowed him to apply a distinctly playful approach to design – 3000 objects to be precise – and granted Alessi global success, having sold more than several million items. Today, Stefano Giovannoni is probably one of the most successful Italian designers worldwide. LUXOS’ special contributor Dr. Tiziano Aglieri Rinella met Giovannoni at his studio in Milan, also the headquarters of his new company QEEBOO.
Your objects always have a strong, playful connotation. How was this passion born, and what is your key to success?
It was a process spurred by collective social changes which began a long time ago. During Italy’s baby boom in the 1950s and 1960s, people were looking to own objects that represented a status symbol. Later on, with the radical changes and social revolution that took place in Italy from the late 1960s, people’s interests shifted from ‘status symbol’ to ‘style symbol’, looking for something that represented a more independent style and unconventional eye. My ludic and playful imagination arises from this fundamental change in social behaviours and aspirations.
Milan is nowadays a modern city, bringing together outstanding design, architecture and quality of life. As a designer, how important is it to live and work in Milan?
Milan is a city that inspires you to adopt a more open-minded and dynamic attitude. Everything is nearby, and you can easily meet interesting people on different occasions. The approach to life and to the work environment is completely different here. It can be a tough city, but it forces you to be professional at work. Before moving to Milan, I was living in Florence, the city where I studied and engaged in research. I would never have achieved the same goals had I remained there. Milan offers you plenty of opportunities and being close to the centres of industrial production is fundamental.
Milan has become the hub of significant urban renovations in recent years. In your opinion, how have these transformations impacted the life of its inhabitants?
Unquestionably, Milan has undergone a great regeneration that has brought the city back to international prominence. This urban renovation has introduced a number of new, high-end architectural projects that change the city’s skyline like Bosco Verticale and Unicredit Tower, and has also renovated neglected areas of the urban fabric such as the Darsena, resuscitating an old space for the public as a focal gathering point for social life along the Navigli. Also, the Isola quarter was reconnected to the city and a pedestrian has been created between Piazza Gae Aulenti, Piazza Alvar Aalto and Piazza Lina Bo Bardi, so that nowadays, the entire city has become a sort of open-air stage for events and exhibitions of Fuorisalone. Districts like Tortona and Ventura have built their own identity in this way.
Looking back, Milan has long been perceived as an industrial city, whose historic profile attracted substantial commercial activity that sustained Northern Italy’s wealth for centuries, but also overshadowed design and architecture related developments that were perhaps subtly brewing off the radar. People came here to do business, but very little stayed to enjoy the Italian dolce vita – at least, not here. And it seems as if all that changed overnight: lavish, private palazzos opened their doors to the runway making Milan a fashion capital; design brands from different sectors set up ateliers; family-run artisanal factories seemed to have emerged from the dust, dominating important commercial tradeshows, and the city façade started changing.
Beyond the central ring road, neighbourhoods with views of the canals and open fields cultivated by local agriculturalists began to evolve. Foreign and national investments introduced new residential projects and commercial centres. Leading names in construction and award-winning architectural firms were commissioned and inspire the rise of Milan. And inside the walls of both pre-existing buildings and new projects, talents took to revolutionise interiors the Italian way.
Related: Milan 2.0. The Future of Italy
Alongside architectural development, the cultural scene is booming. What do you recommend for visitors?
A number of recently opened architectural icons and cultural institutions reflect the renewed vitality of the city’s economy, strengthening the presence of previously existing ones. I’d recommend the Prada Foundation and well-established, active roles of the Triennale, Hangar Bicocca and PAC which all contributed to putting Milan back on the map. New projects, such as MUDEC and Fondazione Feltrinelli, by the most celebrated archistars, have also enriched the scene. Certainly all these institutions are worth a visit, both for their architectural and cultural value.
What’s your vision for Milan of the future?
The overall quality of urban life will keep improving, as a number of new awesome projects are currently in progress, for instance the new tower by Mario Cucinella in Porta Nuova. Despite the outstanding urban renovation and new cultural institutions, Milan still lacks an internationally renowned contemporary art museum, like the Centre Pompidou.
What new projects are you working on?
Nowadays, I focus my efforts on my new brand, QEEBOO, which I launched just last year, producing and commercialising objects designed by some of the world’s most-acclaimed designers. They are from very different backgrounds, but they all share a common figurative approach.
Visit QEEBOO at Rho Fair
Don’t miss pieces by Andrea Branzi, Marcel Wanders and Studio Job.
For more info head to the official website.
Salone del Mobile runs from 17 to 22 April 2018 and Rho Fieramilano showground.
Trade Visitors Only: 17-20 April
General Public: 21-22 April
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