Q&A: Ludovica Serafini & Roberto Palomba

Ludovica Serafini and Roberto Palomba founded their studio Palomba Serafini Associati in Milan in 1994. Their partnership is characterised by a shared vision that unites architecture and design; a vision oriented towards observation and experimentation, finding a synthesis between form and function, aesthetics and well-being, with a focus on creating products that last.

As Constantin Brancusi said – ”simplicity is nothing more than resolved complexity.” It is with this philosophy that Ludovica+Roberto Palomba embarked on our first collaboration. Two exquisite new collections, Dama and Lily interact with each other through materiality and lightness of form, embracing Vibia’s penchant for technical and aesthetic refinement.

What was it that first interested you in architecture and design?

Our interest started from the intuition that we all inhabit something (a place or environment). Life is about inhabiting, it represents the basis of everything we do, and therefore, for us, the fundamental thing is to create places that enhance human well-being as much as possible. Sometimes this involves conducting an in-depth analysis of who will be the inhabitant of our architecture, which creates an intimate and unique relationship with our clients.

You both studied architecture at university and your vision never separates the dimension of architecture from that of design. In what ways do these two disciplines come together in your work?

Design is fundamental to architecture because it represents the link between functions and architectural space. It is important that furnishings are consistent with the space and not dissonant.

“When designing architectural space, something unique and unrepeatable is created.”

Furnishings, on the other hand, are nomadic and can be installed in different spaces, creating a neutral or synergistic relationship with the architectural space. It is necessary to understand how to generate design objects that can adapt to a variety of environments and people.

Where do your two visions diverge, if at all?

Only when we have to decide where to go on vacation, we are really aligned in our work!

You describe your design approach as “holistic.” What are the characteristics of holistic design?

We have always chosen to put the end user at the centre of our design.

“Our projects seem to be dedicated to a hypothetical person whom we care for, as if we have an emotional relationship with the end user.”

For us, it is essential to dedicate our work, attention, skills, and abilities to making people happy.

You place a lot of emphasis on research, observation and evidence. Is rationality a condition for creativity?

“Rationality is the framework on which creativity is built.”

Creativity, madness, genius, and recklessness represent the heart, muscles, organs, even down to clothing and makeup. Without the skeleton, none of this would stand.

What is it that makes your design timeless?

By choosing to work with codes of values rather than stylistic codes, we have made a selection of aesthetic elements that somehow characterise us, but we have not deliberately chosen to confine ourselves within a trait that would make us prisoners of ourselves. We are recognizable to the extent that we are recognized for a quality of value in the project, for its simplicity and elegance.

What is your approach to lighting design?

I have to say that when we are designing lighting, we always try to reason on a hierarchical basis. First comes the study of light and the relationship that the lamp will have with the people who use it, what kind of emotion and functionality the lamp will have. Then, we build what we believe is the best frame to represent that type of emotion around the idea that the lamp must convey.

In what ways can designers experiment with natural and artificial light in order to shape an atmosphere or mood?

In the same amount of ways that you can give a kiss, there are infinite possibilities.

Good design generates a sense of beauty and harmony that influences our emotional state of mind and improves quality of life. What exactly is good design? How do you recognise it?

When it is able to express an emotion, fulfil a function, and respect the environment at the same time.

What travel destinations would you recommend to a fellow professional or a student of either design or architecture?

Surely a visit to the Milan Furniture Fair never hurts? We also believe that the inspirations we receive in life mostly come from travel. It is important to get into the habit of removing the filters that prevent us from perceiving and seeing things, and to therefore be open and available to everything around us. You can travel even close to home and make it the most beautiful journey; it depends on our willingness to fully experience it.

Something that’s never missing from your fridge?

Fresh fruit in abundance.

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