Cover Italian architect and designer Roberto Lazzeroni

Italian architect Roberto Lazzeroni’s witty designs combine elements of history with impeccably elegant details

“It’s like a UFO (unidentified flying object) landing in a living room”, quips Roberto Lazzeroni. The Pisa-born architect is describing the new Ray coffee table he has designed for Italian manufacturer Giorgetti, speaking to us through a translator during the Salone del Mobile furniture fair held this June in Milan.

With the table’s rounded form, it’s easy to see the comparison; Lazzeroni’s humorous description speaks not only of his personality and wit but also of the effectiveness of his clever design concept. Describing his work as “sentimental design”, Lazzeroni bridges diverse influences from the past and the present, drawing inspiration from conceptual art as well as Italy’s 1960s radical design movement.

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Since his foray into industrial design in the eighties, Lazzeroni has crafted beautiful spaces and elegant furnishings, which encompass collections for leading furniture manufacturers including Giorgetti—available in Singapore at Space Furniture—that harness the Italian maker’s expertise with leather. 

Having collaborated with the brand for a decade now, Lazzeroni describes their relationship as being a perfect fit from the very beginning. “The Giorgetti style and the Lazzeroni style are similar. We felt the same creative affinity between us.” Here, the Italian maestro tells us more about his latest collections and his advice for aspiring designers.

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How would you describe your design philosophy? 

Roberto Lazzeroni (RL): I begun studying and working in art and architecture in Florence. Then I decided to move to [focus on] industrial design because in the seventies, the Radical design begun, which mixes art and design together, [making it more interdisciplinary]. Design is always in evolution because there are many movements—whether minimalist, industrial, or others. Like in the cinemas where there are many different film genres, it’s difficult to define design in one word because there are many ways to see it.  

Tell us more about your new designs for Giorgetti.

RL: The Vesper sofa was launched last September and is now complemented with a new low table, Ray. I designed this table to appear like a UFO; the table features a top that’s larger than the cylindrical base, balanced in a way that appears to defy physics.

Another new design is the Borealis screen, which recalls the aurora borealis. Each bent leather strip is stitched together like a bow, recalling the movement and form of the northern lights.

What’s a colour and a material that you’ll never tire of using?

RL: Wood. It is a timeless material that is very versatile and it can be used in many ways; mankind has been using this material for a long time. Black is the colour that I love the most. It fits well with everything, and I’m always seen wearing something black. Although my grey cat is not black—and he is very beautiful—because, in Italy, we have this superstition that a black cat could lead to misfortune. 

Complete this sentence: You would never find ____ in my home and why? 

RL: ‘Bad’ things; a bad chair, a bad woman, or a bad picture. I dislike designs that are vulgar and too luxurious. I dislike bad things because I dislike being depressed; everything in my home must make me happy.  

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges designers face today?

RL: In a time like this with an ongoing war and a pandemic, designers should reinvent themselves to create relevant products. Sustainability is fundamental today because of climate change; manufacturers that produce furniture and objects have many responsibilities and should use materials that are recyclable and reusable so that they last for many years.

What keeps you inspired?

RL: In this work, there is no ‘real’ inspiration. Design is a work made from your daily observations of ordinary life. Designers can do many things because you can find inspiration everywhere.Design is always in evolution—whether it’s described as being minimalist, industrial or in another style. Like in the cinemas where there are many different film genres, it’s difficult to define design in one word because there are many ways to see it.

Is there anything you haven’t designed?  

RL: A watch. It is too difficult to design a watch and also because I love collecting watches. 
Among your designs, which do you consider among your favourites? 

RL: The next one. 

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