Less but better

A conversation with Fabio Novembre about creativity as an unavoidable need and the connection between the disciplines.

Fabio Novembre, most of your projects come with a very strong iconography. For this year’s imm cologne you designed an installation for Vondom to present your F3 chair, which is defined by flowing lines. Other designs appear almost “narrative”, playing with anthropomorphic forms. In general: how do you start when designing; where does your inspiration come from?
Inspiration comes from anywhere, from my daughter’s smile to the clouds in the sky. Life itself is the real source of inspiration, and life is made of people, images, sounds, spaces that you unavoidably filter through your sensibility. Design is your personal reaction to all that. I usually say that creativity is not a merit, it’s just an unavoidable need: like sweating. The difference is in how you use your creativity…

You work with a whole range of international companies which might have certain expectations concerning your design, also with regard to their own design philosophy. How important is a company's input within a cooperation, how much freedom do you get?
What you say used to be very true, but now it is only partly so. The market is saturated, so that even companies don’t have real inputs to give a designer. The success of an object is more unpredictable than it has ever been and we can only trust our instinct. Of course we aren’t talking about the sales figures of 20 years ago. The whole field is in a deep crisis, and it’s up to designers and producers to find a way to evolve together.

You studied architecture and work in the field of interiors, as well as product design and neighbouring disciplines. To what extent do you feel that these different fields – and different scales – are connected?
To answer your question, let me quote Ernesto Nathan Rogers: “From the spoon to the town”. This is the slogan he created in the Charta of Athens in 1952. He explained the typical approach of a Milanese architect, who designs a spoon, a chair and a lamp, as well as working on a skyscraper on the same day. I believe that approach still works.

How important is a personal style, in the sense of a certain continuity connecting different fields of your work?
You unavoidably develop your own approach to the project that can easily be defined as your specific style. But it’s not meant to be like a cage you build around yourself. You always have to trust your instinct to overcome fear of change. Evolution is probably the perfect style.

Has public opinion on design changed in recent years? A tendency towards individualism still seems to be quite strong; glamour has been around for a while; now there is a growing preference for more natural or ecological design. Where do you see important trends for the future – as a result of changing concepts of lifestyle as well; how do they influence your work?
I never ask myself what the new trends are going to be, partly because I don't like the word itself. I would define what you are asking me for as “common sensibility”, and I believe there's a diffused attempt to tune in to social issues. We should all agree that the party is over and we can't afford to be the same crazy consumers as previous generations. The influence on my work can be summed up in my new motto: do less but do it better.

With his open mind and poetic view on all things that surround us, Fabio Novembre has become known for his extraordinary interiors, product designs and installations. Novembre studied architecture in Milan, where he also opened his studio in 1994; he was art director for Bisazza and cooperates with renowned furniture companies.


Source: Koelnmesse, reprint free of charge.