During more than three decades, Piero Lissoni has gained a worldwide reputation as architect and designer. Running four studios in Milan and New York, he is covering projects from whole buildings to interiors and products for renowned international companies.
Piero Lissoni, in your studio you have a team combining architects, product designers and graphic designers. How important is interdisciplinarity for your work and your way of thinking?
Interdisciplinarity is a crucial point of my work. Without interdisciplinarity it is impossible for me to do anything. There is a strong humanistic approach in my life and work; I appreciate the exchange with other people and other disciplines. This is an enrichment for me. In general interdisciplinarity is an enrichment for each culture. You always have to think multidimensional. When you are a graphic designer for example, you never work isolated from other disciplines or without the input of other people with their certain background, you are a mediator, you work on many interfaces. For me it is beyond dispute to be influenced by many different ways of life and to be open for different worlds. I like to be at the same time an architect or designer or graphic designer or art director.
Living, working and leisure are more and more merging. Where do you see the most relevant challenges in the field of interior design in the future?
The idea of designing things and spaces in a multifunctional and flexible way to meet the diverse needs is not a new idea. Today it is technologically possible to connect everything and everyone, whether it is people or rooms, whether it is the smartphone with the kitchen, the bathroom or the living room. Sometimes I ask myself whether people really want to live as parts of a digitally networked system in an optimized and efficient space. Interior design should be oriented to the needs of people, to the capacity of life and not primarily to the technological feasibility. For me, sometimes it is also important to work in a clearly defined, proper space. Ultimately, it is crucial how man uses and organizes a space, his space.
How important are materials, surfaces, connected technologies for your work as an architect as well as a designer?
Truly essential! When I’m designing an object the choice of materials is of prime importance. The surface of a piece of furniture is like its skin, with a tangible, tactile appeal. New technologies in surface treatment provide new fascinating and sophisticated opportunities. The surface area is communicating with the outside world so to speak.
Where do you see – or would you like to see – main developments in the field of materials and surfaces, now and in the near future?
I would like to work in a field where saving natural resources and sustainability are self-evident. We need to stop cutting real trees and destroying our woods. New nano-technological procedures and new surface treatments support this ecological development in the field of materials. This synthetic progression will surprise us by even superior material performances, compared to the natural products. One day simulated wooden materials will be more natural than nature itself.
In general, design has gained more social relevance in the last decades. Has design, especially interior design, therefore also become more 'democratic'?
Design has always had a social relevance. What does 'democratic design' exactly mean in this context? When it comes to the democratization of design, people are often no longer interested in design and quality, but rather in markets and economic interests. There are companies that have managed to bring a large number of designed products into all strata of society. But is this a democratization of design when the design of the products is geared towards low cost mass production to generate sales?
During more than three decades, Piero Lissoni has gained a worldwide reputation as architect, designer and art director. In 1986, he and Nicoletta Canesi founded Lissoni Associati in Milan, later followed by the visual communications company Graph.x, Lissoni Architettura and New York based Lissoni Inc. He has designed products for renowned international firms and is the art director for major brands such as Alpi, Boffi, De Padova, Living Divani, Lema, Lualdi and Porro.