Serena Confalonieri is an internationally established designer and art director. Her work is characterised by colours and graphic patterns. We decided to entrust her with a La Sardina DIY camera to customize and had a chat about her professional history, her relationship with photography and her creative process.
Hello Serena, welcome! Would you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I am a designer and art director based in Milan. I mainly work in the field of product, interior, graphic and textile design. After studying at the Polytechnic University of Milan, I collected a series of experiences abroad, which were fundamental in my professional career but also, and above all, on a personal level. Barcelona, Berlin and New York were cities that allowed me to discover different points of view on life and work. From that moment on, I realized how important travelling and discovering different cultures are in my creative process.
Over the years, I have created products and collaborations for various brands in the furniture and design industry, including: Azimut Yachts, Carpet Edition, cc-tapis, Maliparmi, Mason Editions, Medulum, Mohebban, Nodus, Porro, Portego, Potocco, Saba Italia, Sambonet, Swatch, Texturae, Wall&Decò. In recent years, product design has been flanked by a series of site-specific projects and installations - such as the mural in Città Studi and the Quadra project created with the City of Milan - and some interior design works, such as the 13.10 restaurant on the outskirts of Milan.
Tell us about your customized version of La Sardina DIY. What was your inspiration/concept?
For the creation of my version of La Sardina DIY, I was inspired by some graphic patterns and the textile tradition. The first reference is from Bauhaus. It is the work Black White Yellow by Anni Albers. The second inspiration is a traditional Sardinian textile made by Fabrizio Sanna. Finally, I was inspired by the chromatic contrast typical of Postmodernism that characterizes the site-specific installation, entitled Mind the Gap, created by the French artist Nathalie Du Pasquier for the Brescia metro.
Tell us about your relationship with photography, and analogue photography in particular.
Photography has always been an art form that I am very passionate about. In particular, I find analogue photography very interesting because for me it is a symbol of spontaneity. I relate it to moments of leisure and conviviality, during which I take souvenir photos with an analogue camera. The fact that you cannot decide to delete and replicate a photograph makes it all so real and direct.
What is the artistic process that leads to the creation of your work?
There is no real standardized process. Often inspiration comes a bit out of the blue; I like not to let it slip away, regardless of whether it leads to the realization of something or not. I try to always have paper and pencil with me because I find that the best way to start working on an idea is with a hand sketch. From there I then do further research and start to bring the design to digital, giving it shape and colour.
And your greatest source of inspiration?
I find some female designers and artists from the past a great source of inspiration, this is reflected in many of my designs. From my earliest works, I wanted to discover and enhance certain disciplines traditionally linked to a craft dimension of work, especially women's work. From textiles to blown glass: I find that only recently has the concept of design expanded in this sense, becoming more inclusive. In other cases, especially in exhibition projects and art installations, what comes out is an expression of my more emotional side, of feelings and memories that I want to bring out.
Was there one work in particular that gave your career a boost?
Definitely, the project that launched me into the world of design: the Flamingo carpet for Nodus, which was presented at the 2013 Salone del Mobile in Milan. From there came various other collaborations with important companies, for example with Wall&Decò, CC Tapis, Porro, Sambonet, along with the first awards and recognitions.
When a company commissions project from you, I imagine they expect to receive a result that is congruent with your style, that they have seen on your website and social media. Have you ever felt the need to do something completely different?
When I collaborate with companies, I always try to keep my mark, using decorative elements so that they become an integral part of the project. However, it is always important that the objects are related to the style of a company, therefore, it is often a matter of carefully finding a stylistic and functional balance.
In your career you have designed many products, often very different from each other, and collaborated with large companies and important institutions. Is there a sector that is completely far from your background, but for which you would like to create something?
A somewhat unusual field that I would love to deal with is car interiors: soft, cosy, ergonomic, it would be nice to imagine a feminine hand in a masculine world like the automotive industry.
You often collaborate with small traditional craftsmanship brands. What is the added value you try to bring to these brands?
I have always looked at traditional techniques with interest, wondering in more recent times why nobody was using them to create contemporary pieces. So I started doing it myself, first with self-productions and then by collaborating with some realities. On the one hand, working in close contact with artisans allows you to learn about the behavior of materials and above all to establish a relationship of complicity in design between designer and maker. On the other hand, I like the idea of not letting skills and crafts that are unique in the world disappear, but rather bringing them to light and enhancing them.
Is there one particular project you are most attached to?
Definitely the self-productions are the projects I am most attached to, because they allow me to express my creativity 100 percent. However, the project I have been most involved in over the past year is Restaurant 13.10. It represents a stylistic synthesis of my aesthetics and my style, because I have included a lot of furniture that I have designed over the years for different companies; therefore, I am really excited about the result. It was the first time I tried my hand at interior design and I don't deny that I would like in the future to deal more and more with interior projects: fittings, public or private spaces.
Are there any new projects of yours that you would like to share with our community?
Among the most recent and fun ones is definitely Zdora, the new kitchen, dining table and seating project I have created in collaboration with Very Simple Kitchen and La Pietra Compattata. The pattern of the collection takes up the pattern of the tablecloth, updated and reinterpreted through a colour selection that reflects me very much.