In Conversation With: Designer Roberto Palomba (Exclusive Interview)

Roberto and Ludovica Palomba are a formidable duo in the world of contemporary design. Never ones to be swayed by the fickle world of trends, they design from the inside out, looking to create spaces that are as elegant as they are tranquil. When they first launched their studio in 1994, they envisioned a world in which longevity and style would eventually coalesce. Today, through multiple collaborations with exclusive brands, they have built that culture, and in doing so, helped spark a little movement we know as wellness.

A key partner over the last 25 years has been Poltrona Frau. Home of all things leather, they represent the pinnacle of Made in Italy craftsmanship, a place in which quality and creativity reign supreme. To celebrate the launch of the new Poltrona Frau studio at Chaplins, we sat down with Roberto Palomba for a closer look at some of the designs that have marked their long and illustrious career.

This year your studio will celebrate its 25th anniversary. What have been some of the major milestones along the way?

These past 25 years have flown by. With Ludovica, we honestly never thought about milestones. We have always tried to carry on our personal research in a way that doesn’t follow trends, building the identity of our studio starting from our values rather than a distinctive sign that would probably facilitate us in term of recognition, but would have caged us in a certain style.

We don’t believe in a style but we claim the curiosity of a designer who wants to express his creativity by not relying on the reproduction of a sterile style. I don’t want to please, I want to seduce.

Our milestones are connected to the changes that have revolutionised the residential world. Our work on wellness has been an inspiration for the entire market but also for the outdoor and living one.

Then the products we’ve designed for Poltrona Frau by observing their success and rethinking to the tributes we’ve received at the last Salone e del Mobile, we can say that these products have definitely become one of the most important statements of our work.

The diversity of your creative output means your work often resists easy classification. How would you describe your on-going collaboration with Poltrona Frau?

Years ago we realized that a designer should have a mission. At that moment, we chose ours, deciding that what we wanted most from this job was to be able to share wellbeing with people, and we’ve dedicated all of ourselves to that purpose ever since.  Together with Poltrona Frau we’ve tried to retrace this theme, how to make people feel good and how to make them live well, creating something that could be shared and at the same time giving comfort to the people who use them. From this idea, all the products that we’ve realized for Poltrona Frau were born.

How do they differ from other Made in Italy brands?

Poltrona Frau is a unique case, completely different from all the other Made in Italy brands, in terms of both history and heritage. Poltrona Frau is a brand that has been able to build a catalogue of contemporary classics, which do not seek a consensus but are now part of the collective imagination, that don’t follow trends while silently imposing themselves as icons. Poltrona Frau is a company that has always managed to stay in the contemporary world, this is the winning mix of the brand, they understood before anyone else that heritage is not a matter of style, it’s all about quality.

At the heart of our new Poltrona Frau studio is the Let It Be Sofa. What would you like our clients to know about this piece?

I would like your customers to sit and close their eyes because I believe it’s a product that in addition to aesthetics, lightness and contemporaneity, it’s a pleasure to use and its comfort cannot be told without trying it.

What fascinates you as a designer in 2019?

I’m usually fascinated by design that doesn’t try to look like fashion, which doesn’t want to be trendy. I believe that design is made to last. I am interested in everything that is durable and timeless and everything that is simple to tell but is not trivial. I agree with Leonardo da Vinci – “Simplicity is the greatest sophistication”.

If you could choose one superpower to facilitate your creative process, what would it be?

More than a superpower I would like the dragon of Daenerys Targaryen to be able to fly on vacation as many times as I want and to get rid of boring people … Dracarys!


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