An interview with Italian architect-turned-designer Mario Trimarchi

by Dennis Lee on Mar 20, 2018 in Products
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Italian architect-turned-designer Mario Trimarchi – founder of Fragile studio, university lecturer and adviser to global institutions – continues to reshape the design map through his relentless passion for drawing


How would you describe your design ethos?
Designs should not be just functional, or of a particular style. I try to create objects that give something more than just aesthetics and function, but speak to you deeply.

You came from an architectural background. How does this help with your design?
I practised architecture when I was younger, then I was doing a lot of interiors. Designing in different scales is not a problem, it is always the universal relationship with light and shape that matters. When I design, I can imagine something extremely big or very small, like a skyscraper or lipstick. The only problem that I have is how you see the light that goes around the object and changes the surface.

How do you see the difference between product design and architecture?
Creating buildings is a much more complicated process. It's a job involving different groups of people with different scales. For designing objects, I can do it alone. It's a more intimate approach that allows me to create something more unpredictable.

Tell us about your obsession with drawing and nature. How did you infuse such elements into your designs?
I come from Sicily where wind and turbulence are a natural wonder. I tried to capture the infinite beauty of changing nature through my drawings in relation to their surroundings. My design of the La Stanza dello Scirocco [baskets] was inspired by playing with a house of cards when I was a child, and the moment they were blown away by the wind. I also like drawing shadows. When you design something, start with the shadows – the whole universe is turned upside down.

When I design, I can imagine something extremely big or very small, like a skyscraper or lipstick

You have won numerous awards for your designs, including the La Stanza dello Scirocco baskets and Ossidiana coffeemaker for Alessi. What was your approach to these products?
I don't start designing from functional and marketing points of view. I am attracted by the geometries of the universe. Through the understanding of unstable geometries, in the form of sculptures, I create objects with the touch of my hands. It's important you touch the objects – you feel the beauty. That's why I like to design for blind people, to create something by touch.

Trimarchi's glass set and vases collection for Paşabahçe catches the fleeting moment when raindrops come together

Trimarchi's glass set and vases collection for Paşabahçe catches the fleeting moment when raindrops come together

What is the process in designing objects?
I create the objects from aesthetic experiments. I research a lot at the early stage. By creating this kind of obsession – starting from complex or simple or fragile, I start to build models to see what they are like. I build paper models, models with food and vegetables – everything that can be cut or assembled. I like working with actual models rather than with computers.

As a designer, how do you place objects to enhance ambience?
My idea of dwelling is well represented by a special, new approach: we must first select an object, and then we can start to design the house around it. Of course, the chosen object has to be strongly symbolic, and its main feature is to find the balance among art, design and craftsmanship.

Please tell us about your latest projects.
I just designed a glassware collection called Drops for Turkish brand Paşabahçe, based on the concept of fragility and inspired by the vertical direction of the rain. I'm also working for the next Salone del Mobile Milano in April, but everything else is top secret.

This is an excerpt from “Shaping nature", an article from the March issue of Perspective magazine.

To continue reading, get your copy of Perspective.

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