Inspired by Surprise: Italian Design Firm Spagnulo & Partners

Based in Milan, Spagnulo & Partners has been one of the forerunners of architecture and luxury interior design not only in Italy but throughout the world. Federico Spagnulo, the founder and senior partner of the firm, shared his insights on the recent trends in design and his experience in the industry.

Where are you from and where did you learn design?

I was born in Milan where I studied by the Politecnico, University of Architecture. I also lived in Berlin in the 90s and worked by the architectural office Steinebach & Weber.

What is your style, and what makes you stand out among other designers?

We have a tailored approach to the Interior Design Project. In our mind, every project should be different depending on the aim of the place, the cultural context and the client’s needs. Like a tailor, I love to customize our projects and to face them as it was the first time. Thanks to this approach, the style is shared on each new project, changing every time to create a unique and custom-made experience.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a designer?

My father was an artist. He taught me and my brother, our art director, that the only way to be really free is simply to love our job. To be an architect is fantastic.

What are some recurring trends that you are seeing in 2019?

The most important new trends are some subject matters which are not strictly referred to the architectural and design world. A lot of influence is, for instance, coming from the contemporary art experience and from the cultural aspects related to India, China, Russia etc. That’s why I consider the real new trend in our job as the capacity to hear and to watch what’s coming from the outside world.

The real new trend in our job as the capacity to hear and to watch what’s coming from the outside world.

— Federico Spagnulo

What 2019 trends surprise you the most and why?

The last exhibition of Marina Abramovic in Florence. The courage to provoke a new way of thinking is always a generator of a concept. It doesn’t matter if positive or negative, but it’s always in the direction of a new beginning.

What are you working on right now?

We are involved in two new 5-star hotel projects in Dubai with 200 rooms and Doha with 300 rooms. We are also involved in the restoration of one of the most important antique palaces in Florence, Palazzo Portinari Salviati, which will be completely transformed into a luxury residence with about 40 flats. We are involved in a new architectural project of 110,000 square meters for a co-living house, offices, 3 theaters and vertical farms in Taipei, Taiwan; two new fine dining restaurants in London; two Villas on the Como Lake, and in Tuscany.

What is the most challenging part of your job and why?

To respect the client’s needs and expectations within the cultural and styling choices coming from the aim of the place where the project is located. I don’t like to continually propose the same approach to our projects, as we always work in different places and situations. This means that every time we start from scratch to invent a new story.  

What does Italian design mean to you?

Just three important elements: hundreds of years of history; an incredible capacity of workers, artisans and small companies; and good architects able to talk with the first two elements and understanding that that alone it is not possible to reach good results. 

Explain your process when beginning a new project.

We always start from the place and from the cultural aspects of where we are working. This analysis is combined with the client’s requests and becomes a concept that contains the strategic, cultural styling and practical elements that are the main pillars of the entire project. We spend a lot of time and effort on this phase, providing sketches, stories, videos, materials, music, samples and all that is necessary to create the right starting point for all the rest.

What inspires you?

If you are able to hear and watch what is outside from your usual context, it will be possible to catch real unexpected suggestions. The real inspiration, for me, is the surprise. 

Photos courtesy of Spagnulo & Partners

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New Artefacto Collection Honors Cinema and Technology

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Artefacto is committed to designing with function and style in mind, while blending global influences from Italy, France, Brazil and beyond. The new collection arrives this month to the U.S. and embodies Artefacto’s signature contemporary aesthetic, now with a tribute to cinema and technology.

 

 

The pieces are all inspired by classic movies, with textures and finishes like exotic marble, stainless steel and sophisticated fabric. Every piece in this new collection features a star-studded name straight from the silver screen, like the Harrison Chaise Lounge, Carrie Lounge Chair, Indiana Lounge and Lauren Chair.

 

Paulo Bacchi, CEO of Artefacto, feels the new collection perfectly blended the old with the new. “Artefacto borrowed the styles of classic old Hollywood to create a timeless new collection that is simple yet elegant,” he said, “Completely customizable, these pieces have a refined versatility that will add a touch of character to any space.”

 

As for the Hollywood influenced pieces, Bacchi said, “Hollywood represents an eclectic industry that is all about glamour, sophistication and lasting style. Rich textures, satiny finishes, polished metals and deep colors are central to our new collection.”

 

Deep, rich tones like navy, dark brown and black inspired this collection, according to Bacchi. evoking luxury and dramatic glamour. His favorite pieces include the Float Shelf and Carrie Swivel Lounge Chair. “Their smooth shape, polished finish and subtle, metal details make them timeless, sophisticated pieces,” said Bacchi.

Constantin Buffet/Bedside Table

 

Made of a stainless-steel base, with wood and suede interior. The main frame of this piece comes in a variety of high-gloss or matte colors, including white, sand, noir and black. The suede interior is available in sand or paprika, depending on customer preference.

Carrie Swivel Lounge Chair

 


This gorgeous swivel chair is made of a stainless steel base and upholstered fabric with leather option. The swivel base of the chair is also equipped with a return system.

Float Shelf

 

Completely customizable, the Float Shelf is made of wood frame and steel base, and along with the legs, are available in a variety of colors.

Hara Chair

 

This stunning chair is made of natural, woven Brazilian Burati palm fiber with stainless steel base. Legs and backrest are available in a variety of colors.

Indiana Collection

 

The Indiana Collection is made of stainless steel, natural fibers, woven using a Malacca weaving technique. The legs are available in a complimentary finish of polished silver, gold or rose. The cushions come in a variety of colors and materials, based on customer preference.

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Killing the Cubicle: Q&A with ‘White Space’ CEO

White Space, an innovative service customizing interiors for commercial and office spaces worldwide, is redefining the office experience one space at a time. We spoke to Aytan Litwin, the founder and CEO of White Space, on his favorite projects and vision for the company’s future.
What was the inspiration for you to start White Space?
Over a decade in the furniture business led me to a simple conclusion: The furniture industry needed to be reinvented.  It was dominated by legacy players who were doing the same things for generations, while the hospitality industry was changing dramatically. Hotels and other public spaces were turning into immersive experiences where design and style statements mattered more than ever.  But when it came to furniture, the big players were unable to deliver the quality, speed, and responsiveness that this new world demanded within hospitality players’ budgets.

So, I created White Space to fill this void.

At the heart of our model is a new infrastructure that delivers a custom-built supply chain for every project. We work with — and manage — the factory best suited for the task, no matter where in the world it’s located. This is the big change the industry needed — the ability to manufacture the highest quality furniture, casework, lighting fixtures and flooring with scale, efficiency, and attention to detail.

To put it another way, my inspiration for starting White Space was identifying that there was a white space in my industry — a gap that we could successfully fill.

 

 

What is the big change you’re bringing to office spaces?
We’re eliminating the false choice that existed in the market: that you have to choose between quality and affordability, or creativity and efficiency. Buyers and purchasers of all kinds were resigned to picking out generic furniture from a catalogue, because that’s the way it had always been. Now no one has to make that choice.

Can you share a brief history of White Space?
It really started with the epiphany described above, and the realization that I had the experience to start a company like this. I knew the strengths and weaknesses of so many factories around the world — and I had cultivated the professional connections and knew the projects I brought them would get the focus and effort they deserved.

Those connections also mean that we can bring our own quality-control teams on site: they’re there at every stage of the production process to make sure we’re delivering exactly on our clients’ specs. Because of our ability to deliver the highest quality on time, within budget and at scale, we’ve been able to mature very quickly and work with some of the biggest names in the hospitality industry — from Disney to the Ritz-Carlton.

 

What are some of your favorite projects?
One of my favorite projects is the work we did for the Nakoma Lodge. I feel particularly proud of this — not only because it came out so well, but because it is an honor to be associated with a Frank Lloyd Wright design. That we were able to successfully and seamlessly extend his aesthetic speaks to the power of the system we’ve built, to fully realize even the most complicated and nuanced of visions.

Also, I feel very proud of the work we did with WeWork to open their Tel Aviv flagship. They are clearly changing the workplace and it’s a thrill to be part of that change. They also have high standards and a sophisticated vision for their brand, that’s always extended to the spaces they design, so it was extremely gratifying that they chose us. It’s also always fun to work on such a cool, trend-setting project.

 

How is White Space innovating office spaces today?
We’re helping to kill the cubicle — and more broadly, the fluorescent-lit, colorless, isolated environments that employees were almost universally forced to work in a few years ago. A lot of modern corporate offices are taking cues from the hospitality industry, surprisingly enough: the shared spaces that encourage socialization and collaboration are increasingly a focal point in corporate office design, as we come to realize that happy, healthy employees who actually like each other end up more productive. People do more when work when it doesn’t feel like work — and creating that vibe and work ethic starts with the physical environment. It’s the main reason people come to us to make their offices feel less like offices.

 

What are your future aspirations for White Space?
I aspire to continue to expand globally, both within the hospitality industry and within adjacent industries, including co-working spaces. We want to continue to work with creative brands who have expansive visions, and with designers that share these qualities. We’re here to support anyone who has an envelope they want to push.

The system we’ve created is agnostic to the project, and we want to work with people who’ve been boxed in by their previous vendors, that couldn’t deliver as fast and as fully as we can. We help those companies compete through innovative design. Design is a true competitive advantage today.

 

Photos courtesy of White Space

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