Exclusive Interview with Fabio Novembre

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Article by Konstantinos Deloudis
Posted on October 03rd, 2012
in Architecture, Design, Art & Fabio Novembre

Fabio Novembre was born in Lecce in 1966.

In 1984 he moved to Milan where he graduated in Architecture at Politecnico. In 1992 he lived in New York where he attended a Cinema course at the New York University.During his american stay he got to know Anna Molinari and he realized for her his first interior project: the shop “Anna Molinari Blumarine” in Hong Kong. In the same year he opened his studio in Milan.

The collaborations with leading design companies intensify during the years, Cappellini, Driade, Meritalia, Flaminia and Casamania just for naming the main important ones; at the same time the showroom projects and boutique for the best international fashion brands going on as the Tardini shop in New york, the Blumarine store in London, Singapore and Tapei as well as the Meltin' pot and the Stuart Weitzman shops all around the world, from Rome to Beijing.

In 2008 the Comune of Milan dedicates a solo exhibition in the Rotonda di Via Besana as prestigiuos location named “ Teach me the freedom of swallows”, while in 2009 the Triennale Design Museum of Milan invited him to create a personal exhibition named “Il Fiore di Novembre”. In 2010 the Comune of Milan charges him of an exhibition inside the Italian Pavillion on the occasion of the Shanghai Expo.

2011 is the photography year: after art-directing of the exhibition “Lavazza con te partirò” at the Teatro dell'Arte of the Triennale of Milan on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the company's calendar; he also designed and curated the Steve McCurry exhibition at MACRO Testaccio, Rome.

In April 2012 he signs the new exhibition setting for the fifth edition of Triennale Design Museum.


What does design mean for you? What is design in your life?

I try to approach any design commission as a story to tell, and it's through my ability in the narration that I try to make the difference. I confess I'm definitely not a problem solver, eventually I try to be a problem maker... I believe in the value of poetry, in beauty as a chance for redemption.

Please describe the changes in design over the last 20 years.

The market is saturated and companies don't have real inputs to give to designers. The success of an object is more unpredictable than it has ever been and we can only trust our instinct. Imagine that my Nemo has been Driade's bestseller since the day we showed it at the Salone, and when Mr. Astori and myself decided to put it in production we thought it was quite a difficult piece for the market. Of course we are not talking about the selling numbers of twenty years ago. The whole field is in a deep crisis, and it's up to designers and producers to find together a way to evolve.

Which designers/architects have influenced your work the most?

I’ve many heroes: from Fellini to Gandhi, from Majakovskji to Che Guevara, from Sottsass to my old doorman (a very simple uneducated lady); the world is full of good examples to follow. Sir Isaac Newton once said: "If I have seen further it was only by standing on the shoulders of giants". I believe I accurately select my giants and work on climbing on the top of their shoulders. But the goal remains the same: try to see further!

What item have you envied because of its design?

Envy doesn't belong to the list of my feelings. When I see great projects I feel happy, and when it happens I like to congratulate the designer personally celebrating his capacities. That's actually the reason why most of the big designers are good friends of mine.

Do you believe that design assists in the creation of a “better” world?

Design is a natural attitude of the human being, the only animal able to modify the environment according to his needs. Of course this impulse has caused several problems to our planet... Life is a matter of choosing priorities, design is all about that. A good designer should be first of all a good person, his will of change should never evolve in forms of prevarication.

Should design be more inexpensive or does it deserve to be paid for at a high price?

Talking about furniture design, there's Ikea and there is the Art Design Fair in Miami: two sides of the same coin. All in between is losing sense and market, unfortunately but implacably.

What led you to become involved in design?

I wasn't born like those kids who dream being astronauts or scientists. When I was a kid my horizon was narrow and I could only deal with the spoon for my soup. Growing old I bumped into the famous quote "from the spoon to the city" by Ernesto Nathan Rogers. It's a slogan he created in 1952 for the Charta of Athens, adopted to explain the typical Italian approach of undifferentiated quality that you must put in anything you do. That's the way I see design, and the reason why I became a designer.

If you were not a designer-architect, what other profession would you have chosen?

Considering myself a director of movies in 3D, my second choice would be going back to a two-dimensional level. Anyway I am a designer exactly the same way I could be a photographer, a painter, or a musician. I've chosen a medium of communication that fits me quite comfortably and I use it to express my ideas, my visions, my love for life.