GIOPATO & COOMBES - We explore differences, Milan/ London and the concept of contamination. (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)
To Cristiana and Christopher design means finding the synthesis between the emotion behind conception and the pragmatism of innovation. In every product rationality, essential condition for the development of the project, meets intuition and emotion, in the research of a constant balance. We find out more:
You have some surface differences: (woman/man, architect/designer, Italian/British). What are the similarities?
We both love challenges, three years ago we dived into our independent design adventure with no doubts. We are not afraid to take new ways, and we are both very positive thinkers. We share a great passion and special attitude toward design that leads us to express our visions, and also our different characters, in a unique project. We have a great respect of each other’s skills and visions, and we believe in differences.
What are the key philosophies behind your work?
We work especially in the light eld, and the light has a big power: it arises deep emotions. Our mission is to create contemporary lights, which drive emotions; we look for a balance between technologic innovation and the highest artisanal manufacture.
Your description reads: “Christopher works logically and calmly while Cristiana works passionately and instinctively” . . . together you create beautiful results with both calm and passionate aspects combined. How does the process of collaborating work itself out?
We’ve worked together since 2006, we have learnt to work together and give us the freedom to express each other. We start working on a project just chatting about it. We investigate rst what’s the aim of it, in any sense. Then we immerse ourselves into it, passing the project to each other’s hand in different stages.
A true collaboration, where both parts are involved with the same roles, results from a strong alchemy and a creative tension that evolves continuously.
You have an eclectic list of projects including lighting, furniture, and even the interior of a helicopter. What is your approach to new design projects?
We tend not to impose ourselves any boundaries when it comes to experimenting with new projects. We try to study hard the constraints and we work hardly on those to create new solutions!
What differentiates Great from Good design?
Good design is functional, great design is both functional and beautiful, and it arrives to people’s hearts.
Something we have read a couple of times from you – “contamination of ideas?” What does that mean?
We hate to close a project into a box; we love instead when a project encloses different aspects that belong from elds very far away.
It becomes rich and unexpected. Both our inspirations and ideas for a project don’t come from an only source; they are the result of a process, of contents that, with time, elaboration and experience, are enriched with other content, becoming something else.
Cristiana you have mentioned the importance of balancing function with aesthetics because it ultimately gets you into the hearts of people - how do you know when you have achieved the right balance?
You don’t know it when you design it. That’s the frustrating part of our job. You realize if you have achieved it, when someone looks at your product and his/her eyes start shining! That’s when the magic comes, and you think “GOT IT!” Then you can take a deep breath.
Christopher – “Pushes industrial processes to their sculptural limits and tries to reduce the impact of industrial repetition”. Tell us more.
While working, I respect the motto of always stressing things and going beyond the established to find new expressive languages, through investing time in experimentation and research...
Please describe your thinking behind the – simply impossible to resist – Giopato & Coombes Editions?
We push our boundaries, not being afraid to “look in the dark”, hoping to bring back the magic of daydreams.
We aim to design projects that, both for quality of the piece itself and quality in manufacturing, result to be unique and that can become bespoke pieces.
You worked with some similarly talented people in your early years - Cristiana with Makio Hasuike and Patricia Urquiola. Christopher with George Sowden and Sebastian Bergne. What were those experiences like?
We both had the luck to meet and collaborate with very talented designers, from which we learnt a lot. It was a fundamental experience for our formation and to put the bases of what we are today.
But once we started our own projects we were very focused to get free and far from their vision and create our own language.
We are still in touch with them, and when we show them a new product, we still feel the same butterflies in the stomach that you feel when you present an idea to your mentor.
You both met while at University in London – you have lived in Milan for a long time. How do the two cities compare for you?
Both are very dynamic and interesting cities, and both have a stimulating design scene. We were in London at the start of the Millennium and we remember a unique and liberating explosion of style and energy. For us London represents extreme classicism and the breakthrough youth culture. It’s a lively, inspiring city that’s always in motion. Milan is a workaholic city; always busy, never stopping except the weekends when everyone leaves. It’s stylish and classic, and for the Design scene is definitely the “place to be”, but it’s more conformist than London.
What projects are you launching now and what can we look forward to from you in the next year?
We are exploring once again the concept of contamination, of things that become something else when merged with others, working on some extensions and variants of existing projects.
We are also working on an architectural project, our new headquarters! It will be a place where the exchange of ideas is central, where antique and contemporary coexist, where the lights will be the protagonists, where our collaborators will be happy to come and spend their time, where the green will delight our days and will remember us the change of the seasons. A human place, first of all.
Check out Cirque, Gioielli and Lace (pictured) now at www.giopatocoombes.com