Hubert Burda Media

The Artist

Patrizia Moroso of famed furniture label Moroso tells Farah Liyana that she doesn't care to grow a super brand. Design “is so much more”, she says.

The Artist

Having darted straight over from her talk at Singapore’s recent design-centric interior exhibition 100% Design and now juggling takeaway coffee, madeleines and liaison representatives, Patrizia Moroso, creative director of artsy furniture label Moroso, is in her element. Ripping apart sugar sachets as we sit surrounded by eclectic Moroso pieces curated for the event, she says: “Sorry about this, I haven’t had my lunch. Tea for you?” It’s a simple sentence of pleasantry, but a revealing one. No matter how zany things may seem on the surface, there is always an undercurrent of composure and quiet confidence — the hallmark of every Moroso product ever designed. Founded in 1952 by Patrizia’s parents, Moroso was known for its fuss-free aesthetic until Patrizia, a self-described “crazy artist” with then-bizarre notions of design rose up the company ranks to change its game-plan entirely. Her strategy was to find the right friends to collaborate with, and find them she did. Patricia Urquiola, Ron Arad, Carlo Colombo and Toshiyuki Kita and even fashion label Diesel, have joined hands with her in producing inventive pieces that perpetuate the new Moroso aesthetic — that of a stylish rebel.
 
What is your design philosophy?
Oh la la! Such a big question. I’ll probably need a few hours to answer that. But to summarise, it’s not only about function, but the entire journey towards the making off the end product. To make something beautiful, the concept, of course, has to be unique, but what is also important is working with the right designers. For me designers are not just professionals, they are friends. This relationship is manifested within the product.
 
How do you decide who to work with or collaborate with?
There has to be a special connection. All designers are different, but yet they are similar in that they strive to discover beauty and realise conceptual and functional aspects in the things that they are doing. What is interesting for me, from the perspective of a director, is building the biggest possible pool of ideas and working with different people from varied backgrounds to gain an even broader perspective of our work. So people could hail from different parts of the world, Asia, Africa, Europe, America.
 
It isn’t necessary then, to work with designers with a similar standpoint?
The finished product isn’t about design style. In design, the work is about why you are doing this and for who. For example, here we have an Indian designer, an architect [she says pointing to Rajiv Saini’s Capitello table-stool]. He wanted to show a piece of architecture from the classic period of India. That one over there [the Cardamone Sofa] is done by an African [Senegalese interior designer Dominique Pétot]. It shows the incredible possibilities, of weaving on a metal structure with simple plastic yarns. It draws references from the simple dress of the lady being blown by the wind in Africa. Essentially, it’s a sofa. But it’s much more. Design is much more.
 
What inspires you?
In design, the human mind is important. I’m attracted by talent, intelligence and by people who have something to say. Inspiration comes from everything; from a passing thing, a visit to a museum, or a new collection of dresses. Right now, I’m inspired by Comme des Garcon’s latest collection designed by Rei Kawakubo, a super fantastic fashion designer who I admire. Inspiration is not something I can just open a book and say: “I have to do something”. It comes to you naturally, every single minute of the day if you open your eyes. It’s important to be open-minded.
 
Can you share with us anything about the 2013 collection that will be unveiled in Milan?
It’s impossible to say much at the moment as we’re still working on it. But two or three of our collaborators are new names whom we haven’t worked with before. Part of our goal is to share our knowledge and skill with these collaborators who may come from different artistic fields. So we’re here to enlighten and introduce them to another world of design — furniture. Designers usually have a good eye for design, and it’s nice to work with them. What’s the project you are working on now that you are most excited about? It’s a huge one that I’ve been waiting for years to realise — our new headquarters on the outskirts of Udine, Italy. It’s a beautiful building spearheaded by rising British architect David Adjaye, which has been in construction for three years. David won an American-based competition when he was under 40, against the big names in the industry. You evaluate his work based on the work itself.
 
Any other expansion plans?
Expansion isn’t in the works. In Italy, we’re used to working within small dimensions. A design company doesn’t necessarily have to be huge. If you’re working on a big scale, you’d have to set benchmarks, meet commercialised goals and sell a certain amount. But if you’re too small, you won’t have the budget to sustain yourself. We’re mid-sized. My parents started this and now my brother and I are roped in. I’m not looking to upgrade what we have, maybe a little bit more is fine, but not excessively. I’m crazy about doing interesting things, not so much about expanding. But to be safe, we try to be a self-sufficient company so that we don’t run into financial problems. We’ve never wanted to be a super brand… who cares?

moroso.it