ADC - The attitude of your studio is not purely architectural; it ranges from architecture itself, to industrial design, from graphics for catalogs and websites to shops and yacht design, despite this approach do you define yourself as an architect, a designer or perhaps a new figure?
PL - Perhaps an ancient figure, but if I have to define myself in some way, I define myself as a human being, which is the thing that interests me most and if I really have to take a plaque, Architect. But I'm quietly schizophrenic, so depending on what I have to do, I play different roles. The studio is multicultural. The studio is an assembly of different knowledge, it is then clear that in a studio in order to survive we have chosen professional groups able to work in a certain way, there are: designers, architects, interiors, graphic designers, but the creative apparatuses mix . I am firmly convinced that everything works if the intellectual apparatus is an apparatus of the humanistic type, and from there I do not compromise.
The firm is not Italian and more than 50% of the people are not Italian, so we operate with a very different intellectual apparatus. I have to put together the mentality of a culture that comes from the Far East, like the Japanese one, with the hyper-cynical one that comes from the United States. All I have to move is a studio that I have, what are called very broad cultural schemes, and I want to stay there .
ADC - Within your website, in the philosophy section, we find some keywords: Experiment, People and In Progresso, is it from these 3 words that each of your projects develops?
PL - Whenever we move in a world that is that of design, when I think for myself, if I miss this virtuality that is the experiment, if I miss the daily routine of progression, the human measure, there is no project that takes. For each scale if these 3 elements are missing, but above all an experimental model, in my opinion it is fundamental, otherwise I make an object that in some way is only correct from a stylistic point of view, which is more than reasonable, but it is not what I interest. In fact, when I make a project that comes too close to the stylistic model and I give up the first part, of this kind of leap of the void in new experiences, these projects, in my eyes, leave the time they find ..
ADC - Do I link to this answer to ask you about the error, to which you give a lot of importance in the design phase?
PL - The error is crucial, fundamental, to understand the project. Very crudely, industrial design works with prototypes, and prototypes are the mistakes. Otherwise they would be called in another way.
ADC - At the end of all these prototypes, you arrive at a final product, which you yourself claim is an awkward, imperfect product. Why does it purposely make one of its objects imperfect?
PL - It's a ladder, it's my language ladder, then in reality I don't do things as uncomfortable as I tell them, the houses aren't that uncomfortable, the buildings aren't that uncomfortable, the objects I draw aren't that uncomfortable, however it is a kind of very small revolt, if you like, even quite childish, but quite precise, around this flawed idea of form-function.
The Germans stabilize it almost as an intellectual model during the Bauhaus, where they talk about form-function, but they start even earlier. They start with the Frankfurt school. I mean that only a nation that had Heidegger as a philosopher could imagine having to mix form and function at any cost. It is visible, a chair has a safe function, and a more or less safe shape, but if I have to give up the beauty of the form, by virtue of the goodness of the function, I prefer not. The two things in my opinion are objective, once you have respected the functional patterns, you must automatically respect the patterns of beauty. To be provocative, none of us choose our partners because we perceive them as functional, perhaps there are other beauties that strike us.
ADC - In the training course of a student, I believe it is of some importance, besides the study plan, to participate in extra-university activities, to broaden one's horizons, as she did, embracing what is beyond architecture and design . Is there a book or an artist that you feel you want to recommend to a student?
PL - No, you just have to be curious. Everything around you is the fruit of culture. Culture is different from information, to the eye, because information is a very flat model, we can be informed about everything, but this does not mean that we have cultural information. Culture is what surrounds us in the most banal things, walking down the street, smelling a perfume, a color, a dress, a strange assembly, a car, a film, music on the street. There is no need for Dan Flavin until Michelangelo, sometimes culture is something that surrounds us, a model of curiosity. If I can advise you, move on, work during your studies and go abroad. Staying here is an ignominy. It is not a question of brain drain, it is a question of culture.
ADC - Our current research investigates the relationship between architecture and happiness. Is architecture still capable of creating happy places? Is there a place, a project, that represents your personal vision of happy architecture?
PL - I don't think that architecture can build happy places, I think this is a terrifyingly arrogant position. Architecture does not build anything, architecture is a means to reach an end, there are more successful architectures, which in some way can put it in a position to be more balanced towards space and life, but I believe that it is all that is internal to our soul, not necessarily a Catholic vision, but a question of our ability to understand beauty and to be happier. It is clear, if I go to the Corviale I am automatically sad, if I go to the ZEN in Palermo or the Vele in Naples, I am automatically sad, while if I enter the pavilion of Mies Van Der Rohe, if I understand it, it could make me happy, but also there it is a question of culture and opportunity. What I would like to say is that, as in design, but none of us, not even as architects, can only do damage, make architecture very ugly, but if we manage to make architecture that is barely passable, therefore non-destructive, objectively, then our human capacity gives us the ability to perceive or not to perceive.
ADC - Is there a project that you perceive as happy architecture?
PL - As an architecture fanatic, there are many. Many projects make me happy when I'm there, the problem is precisely because I'm a fanatic, I see all the others who sadden me instead.
Piero Lissoni interview by Andrea Di Cinzio
© Andrea Di Cinzio for WMMQ