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The aim of this blog is to seek further information and ideas on the world of flooring in all its aspects, because the complex allure of this world – made up of technology, craftsmanship, design, creativity and much more – never ceases to amaze us… and we’re sure it will have the same effect on you.

Transition: travel becomes experience

Tuesday 13 October 2015

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELVES: WHO ARE YOU; WHY AND HOW YOU ENTERED THE WORLD OF ARCHITECTURE
Our names are Francesca Lanzavecchia (1983) and Hunn Wai (1980) and we have been industrial design consultants since 2009, with one foot in Italy and the other in Singapore.

I’d say both Hunn and I entered the world of products rather than architecture (we both studied Product Design and we completed a master’s degree in Conceptual Design in Context at the Eindhoven Design Academy).

Actually, I have always been a bit scared of architecture because it involves working on the scale of a building, and this doesn’t allow you to nurture any feelings of intimacy with it.

Designing products, like designing architecture, is about coming up with tangible solutions, but product designers can take longer to think about the context where the product will be used, who is going to use it, and what the product represents symbolically and culturally; about the details and its tactile nature, maybe even thinking about the effects that the product will have on your mood...

DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC OR RECOGNISABLE STYLE?
As a studio, we're not interested in having a recognisable style and we have never gone in that direction. For us, design should not try to impose a given story or form on a brand or a category of products. The form is just the last stage in designing a project and it comes after you have done a lot of research, almost by magic, while you tell a story about different lifestyles, uses, people, materials and sensations. For us, a product is a new story in a concrete form, and style is the language that the product speaks.

WHAT ARE YOUR BENCHMARKS IN THE WORLD OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN?
We like feeding on different disciplines like art, fashion design, photography, and architecture… but travelling is still the thing that inspires us the most, travelling with an open mind and open eyes helps you discover other ways of living, different places and customs, and then when you get home you have that surprised feeling when you re-encounter everyday things.

HOW DO YOU RATE THE ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN OF TODAY?
It is difficult to generalise about categories that are so vast … when you talk about design today, it takes in a bit of everything (from fashion to objects on display in a gallery, smart devices or the home … for us, good design and good architecture is still about Good Designing.

HOW DO GATHER YOUR INSPIRATIONS TOGETHER?
We’re extremely inquisitive, we draw them together day after day by reading, finding out about things, travelling ... all our inspirations are a part of us ... like a cloud of ideas floating over our heads. These ideas crystallize and overlap in every project, creating contamination that is the start of a new story.

HOW HAS YOUR WORK BEEN INFLUENCED BY YOUR DIFFERENT CULTURAL BACKGROUNDS?
When we set up our studio, our idea was to balance our cultural backgrounds and our personalities.
Each of our projects is a fusion of East and West, man and woman, past and future...

HOW DO YOUR PROJECTS COME ABOUT?
At the start of each project it's like going on a journey without knowing your final destination.
We always start out by trying to discover the context that we are designing for as accurately as possible and becoming familiar with it: the material, the methods used to manufacture it, how it is put to use, and the customer we are designing for.

HOW DOES YOUR APPROACH AND RESEARCH DIFFER WHEN YOU ARE WORKING WITH PRIVATE FIRMS AND CULTURE AND DESIGN INSTITUTES?
When you design for a gallery or a design museum, the ultimate goal is not necessarily to create a product that will go on sale.

In most cases, this type of client does not want a project that expresses something about himself and this gives us more freedom to express how we feel or ideas that can be very personal.

So, the more artistic design projects often have less of a functional element and the element of communication is much more important. “Gallery objects are vessels containing thoughts”.

HOW DID THE TRANSITION PROJECT COME ABOUT AND HOW DID IT EVOLVE?
The project came about because we wanted to transfer a feeling of wellbeing and serenity onto the surface of porcelain stoneware that surrounds us and has great power over our psyche. We imagined the visual impact that tiles can have, enlarging a space, amplifying the effects of the light as it touches on the walls and floors. We imagined a collection that is not static but instead flows from one surface to another, from one room to another.

WHY DO YOU HAVE SUCH A STRONG BOND WITH THE CONCEPT OF ITALIAN STYLE?
The palette used is made up of familiar colours. Marvellous shades that I think have the power to help us relax and make us all feel at “home” a little. Mirage is a top Italian company for its porcelain stoneware and the surface of its tiles and I wanted to celebrate Italian manufacturing know-how and our skill and expertise with “Transition”. This was translated through the colours and the “handmade” markings that overlap like memories, one on top of the other, creating a gentle pattern of transparencies.

HAS WORKING WITH A CERAMIC MANUFACTURER CHANGED YOUR PERCEPTION OF THIS MATERIAL IN TERMS OF THE POTENTIAL APPLICATIONS IN ARCHITECTURE?
Absolutely: we had always thought of porcelain stoneware as being a material you only used in bathrooms and kitchens, and instead we discovered it is a material with an incredible technical performance and visual impact; one that opens up an infinite range of possible applications and creative potential. Since we started designing the collection, we have continued to increase its possible uses: from residential applications to public spaces; from just a flooring to coverings for walls and facades.

HOW DID YOUR WORK FIT IN WITH THE CONTEXT OF A CERAMIC MANUFACTURER AND HOW HAS IT EVOLVED?
Since we had a new and perhaps a slightly naive approach, we immediately asked ourselves why a material that has such an incredible performance was mainly used to imitate other materials. This project aims to define a new form of porcelain stoneware for Mirage, tracing its features in the company's technical heritage and its excellence as an Italian business. Our ideas took shape by combining its superior technological and technical performance with the great skill and expertise of the technician staff at Mirage.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PARTNERSHIP WITH MIRAGE?
Working with Mirage has been a wonderful experience. We not only found out all about porcelain stoneware from the production process that transforms clay into one of the most durable covering materials in the world ... we also met people with an amazing sensitivity, capable of translating our ideas into a tangible form. It was only through their skill that we were able to lend a feeling of lightness, transparency and warmth to a product that is intrinsically hard and technical.

WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
Various, different projects: from wearables to luxury sofas, bathroom accessories for the latest smart homes to children’s pushchairs for the Asian market. They are all projects that contain a strong element of research.

WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE COMING FUTURE?
In the future, we hope to continue working with the brands we adore; we hope we will have more time to devote to research so we can offer our clients the benefit of true innovation.