INTERVIEWING GUILIO CAPPELLINI FOR MODO DE VIDA MAGAZINE

I had the distinct privilege to be asked by the top interior design magazine in Puerto Rico, Modo de Vida, to interview the infamous Guilio Cappellini, a few weeks ago at his flagship store in Soho, where he was

introducing his new furnishing design collection for 2013 during Design Week here in NYC. It was totally fascinating and inspiring to discuss furniture design and his mercurial career. I  arrived with a slew of questions for him and was pleasantly surprised by his disarming manner and charm and willingness to discuss just about everything and anything on my mind.

 

CAPPELLINI SHOWROOM NYC

CAPPELLINI SHOWROOM NYC

 

Cappellini grew up in the family furniture business in Milan, Italy and fell in love with design at a very early age. He went on to study architecture and after getting his degree he decided to go to work for Gio Ponti, one of the most important designers of the Twentieth Century. His experience working under Ponti at his studio completely transformed him and subsequently sealed the future direction of his career.

 

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Every year Cappellini introduces a new collection in April where he highlights the best of the best furnishing designs that he has discovered or selected from his travels  over the past year.  Cappellini has made his mark in the furniture industry by associating himself with remarkable “A List” design talent from around the world. Each new collection features marvelous new furnishings from such luminary designers as Marcel Wanders, Nendo, and Jasper Morrison among others.

 

Guilio Cappellini and me

Guilio Cappellini and me

 

At the same time he is always encouraging the incorporation of novel ways of utilizing old materials, as exemplified by  the stamped cabinet in the 2013 collection from Marcel Wanders. Plus as a rule, the company tries to maintain  everything they can from the old collections,  unless they have become prohibitive in cost to produce or completely out of fashion.

 

MARCEL WANDERS "DECO DOORS"

MARCEL WANDERS “DECO DOORS”

 

 

Cappellini always likes  to introduce one new designer he has discovered into the mix each year. In keeping with that tradition,  Cappellini is featuring the new designs of Zanini de Zanine, a super talented designer from Brazil. For the Cappellini 2013 collection Zanini is presenting two totally unique types of furniture.

 

 

ZANINI DE ZANINE "INFLATED WOOD"

ZANINI DE ZANINE “INFLATED WOOD”

 

The first is a complete line of chairs and tables out of reclaimed Ipe wood, called “Inflated Wood,” which aptly describes the rounded wood pieces that comprise the legs and arms of the tables and chairs in the collection.   Zanini wanted the wood to appear soft even though  it was created in a very traditional fashion. The rounded, “inflated” look of the pieces is extremely successful in accomplishing this sensation that one is looking at wood from a different viewpoint.

 

 

ZANINI DE ZANINE "TREZ"

ZANINI DE ZANINE “TREZ CHAIR”

 

The  second piece Zanini is introducing is a three legged aluminum chair called the “Trez Chair.” Its presentation is very angular and severe as compared to the “Inflated Wood” collection and I was fascinated that both of these products had come from the same designer.  According to Zanini…who I also met and spoke with personally…the design of the chair is a mix of two references, one to the Brazilian  sculptor, Amilcar de Castro, and the other to Joaquim Tenreiro,  the designer.

 

JOHAN LINDSTAT "MELT DOWN"

JOHAN LINDSTAT “MELT DOWN”

 

 

When I inquired which was his his favorite piece from the 2013 collection Cappellini diplomatically answer that it’s difficult for a father  to pick one”son!” They are all his children and he has  personally nurtured all of the designers that create fabulous furnishings for him since first discovering them.

 

MARCEL WANDERS "EYE CANDY"

MARCEL WANDERS “EYE CANDY”

 

Cappellini stated that the burning desire to create is a visceral feeling he has had since a young man. I asked him if every Cappellini store was painted the bright red of the Soho store in NYC and was it designed as a prototype for the other stores around the world.  He said that he  looks at his business as a global business and personalizes each store depending on its location.  He has decided to identify each  store by painting it a color he feels is representative of its location, i.e., Paris is blue, Milan is yellow, New York City is red, etc.

 

CAPPELLINI SHOWROOM NYC

CAPPELLINI SHOWROOM NYC

 

 

He stated that he does not entertain any big time brand marketing  plan for the  Cappellini stores. The only theme that ties all of the stores together is that one bright color is on the floor, walls and ceiling. And, every store has a bit of humor integrated into the decor.  In the NYC store there are area rugs, windows and radiators whimsically painted on the interiors in simple cartoon fashion.  There are also mechanical toys dispersed around the showroom which he buys from a toy company in Portugal.

 

 

CAPPELLINI SHOWROOM NYC

CAPPELLINI SHOWROOM NYC

 

Cappellini is passionate about today’s  innovative production systems for making furniture.  He is constantly intrigued by the new materials available and utilized by his designers and how they seek to reinterpret old materials in new fashioned ways.

 

JASPER MORRISON "OBLONG SYSTEM"

JASPER MORRISON “OBLONG SYSTEM”

 

Cappellini sees his products as offering new freedom to the end user.  Through the use of his furniture the consumer can have total freedom to reflect their personality in their home. I imagine this is a comment on the homogenized look being put forth in the mass market of furnishings by such companies as Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn and the like.

 

PIERRO LISSONI "VIVA L'ITALIA"

PIERRO LISSONI “VIVA L’ITALIA”

 

He strongly believes that not only should something be useful but also beautiful at the same time…my feelings exactly! He also sees  his furniture as hybrid products, able to function in the residential and the commercial market place equally.

 

 

MARCEL WANDERS "TULIP CHAIR"

MARCEL WANDERS “TULIP CHAIR”

 

 

Cappellini believes in strong product identity. In his words the most important thing is to try to be yourself and always to look to the future for new ideas and inspirations. The freedom to express one’s design concepts is the most important thing and is the reason he obtains so much pleasure out of discovering new talent around the globe. To help accomplish this he is constantly traveling the world trying to discover new talent.  He also is a visiting professor at several universities and he enjoys spreading the word about his design visions by teaching others what he has learned through his career running Cappellini. He believes in an eclectic approach to running his company and feels that this has attributed to his success over the years.

 

SYLVAIN WILLENZ "CANDY SHELF"

SYLVAIN WILLENZ “CANDY SHELF”

 

Although Cappellinis career to date has been extremely fruitful and rewarding, his passion continues to push him to do more and to continue the search for other creative designers to represent.  He obviously feels his work is not yet done, and there are still more frontiers in the design industry he needs to bring to the public’s attention.

 

TOM DIXON "S CHAIR LIMITED EDITION"

TOM DIXON “S CHAIR LIMITED EDITION”

 

 

Note: I was curious about how the Italians live, i.e., do they love his furnishings as much as we do in the States.  Surprisingly enough, he  stated that only a small percent of the population in  Italy live with his  furnishings and that the success of his company has been it’s world wide appeal.

 

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Cappellini is indeed charming and self assured and a was a delight to interview. His talent for discovering the new and unusual in furniture and home product designs is exceptional and you can definitely feel his love and passion for what he does when you speak with him.

P.S. If you want to read the article in Modo de Vida, which I wrote in collaboration with my associate in Puerto Rico, Adriana Canellas here you go: Modo de Vida

 

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Ciao, ciao ’til next time!