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