Designer Impressions September 2017

Designer Impressions

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"I looked at handmade embroidery belonging to many traditions and I turned them into something contemporary and unconventional."

Paola Navone

Paola Navone

Paola Navone


We sat down with interior designer, architect and product designer Paola Navone to discuss her online-exclusive collaboration with Frette .

How did you get passionate about design?

My dream since I was a child was to travel. I went along with my instincts and I started very early traveling around the world. Africa. Asia. United States…. As a bizarre “anthropologist of things” I fed my natural curiosity about everyday life object belonging to everywhere in the world. Then, like many things happened in my life, my work as a designer born by chance, by lucky meeting with special people and savoire-faire.

Who are your mentors? (if you have any)

I was studying in Turin, but I was attracted by everything about creativity was happening in the world. Alessandro Mendini read my thesis and called me in Milan. He was founding Alchimia and in the group there were Alessandro Guerriero, Ettore Sottsass, Andrea Branzi…... great creative a great “maestri” to me. They were working on innovative and audacious things and I was totally fascinated.
I owe a lot to them. Much of my free and unconventional way of thinking about things comes from my involvement in Alchimia and Memphis, the anti-academic side of architecture in Italy in the latest Seventies.

What is the art field you are most interested in?

I'm curious and I like to look with enchanted eyes in all directions. I'm interested in new generations of artists as in traditional craftsmanship. Always looking for new and unexpected connections between worlds.

From your experience, what is the best decorating advice you can offer someone?

Of course there are some creative “tools” belonging to me more than others. For example the idea of a coexistence of multiple styles mixed freely without a rule. Or the idea of a not-aggressive environment based on simplicity and imperfect beauty of natural things.

Often in my projects I enjoy using everyday object in a not conventional way. Out of place. Out of range. Or multiplying tens of time. So even ordinary can be extraordinary.

What's your Frette masterpiece?

A few years ago I enjoyed designing for How to spend it review a special cover dress made of soft cotton fabric by Frette. I imagined to use black thread as ink, "writing" on the white fabric with irregular stitches, leaving knots and dangling threads. And I let the label moving from inside to outside. Telling with a touch of irony the uniqueness and magic of hand made things.

What inspired you for the Frette B&W Signs collaboration project?

I really love working with fabric. It is one of my favorite materials for the infinite creative chances it offers.

This time I looked at handmade embroidery belonging to many traditions and I turned them into something contemporary and unconventional. Words. Geometric motifs. Delicate graphics to mix freely. So the bed can always be unique and have every day a special and different mood.

What is your favorite book, magazine or site on design?

My favourite book since ever is “Wabi-sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers” by Leonard Koren. A small and delightful essay on the amazing beauty of simple and everyday things.

What is on your nightstand?

My last objet trouvé found in a Parisian flea market. A beautiful transparent glass lamp. A little wonder.And last issue of Surface magazine received from my friend Spencer Bailey.

Photography provided by Enrico Conti