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The Artistry Of Patrizia Moroso
The influential art director reveals her key creative ingredients – freedom and a love for life.
This interview is accompanied by a series of imagery from Patrizia’s mobile phone. Above: African Doll for a Chair
Stephanie Peh (SP): Tell us about being Italian. Which part of Italy holds a special place in your heart?
Patrizia Moroso (PM): In our history, there are many important things, such as the Roman empire but my favourite period is the Renaissance when art formed a very special connection with the society. During the Italian Renaissance, the society in Italy and the rest of Europe developed a lot. I believe we established the ‘Italian way of life’ during that period. That is the reason why I am very confident with Italy and my life here.
“My favourite period is the Renaissance when art formed a very special connection with the society.”
The whole of Italy is great but it is where I’m living – in Udine – that is special to me. The region is not located in the centre of Italy, but in the North East. It is a little bit further away where not many people are living. Every year, Lonely Planet does a list of top destinations in the world. My region is in the fourth place, amongst other incredible places. It is a nice place to visit as it is very calm. We have the sea and the mountains. It is a very quiet way of living. All the things that I love are around me so I am very happy to be here.
Did you grow up in Udine?
Yes. I grew up here as a student. I also lived in other cities of Italy but when I started working, I was happy to come back here to continue the company my parents established in 1952. It was really a privilege for me. I like that making furniture can be related to culture. Design is part of our contemporary culture. Design is something that connects people. Design is a common feeling. When I came back, I wanted to change a bit of what the company was doing.
“I like that making furniture can be related to culture… Design is something that connects people. Design is a common feeling.”
Before you came onboard, Moroso was only producing conventional sofas…
The company was already very nice, but I was young and really inspired by a new way of thinking that was coming from the world. What came from the family was the way of making with a very high quality of craft and love for details, but we were more of a craftsmanship company, although we knew what design was. I was really trying to combine the two things.
And Moroso today fuses art and design effortlessly like one can’t do without the other. Do you think your background in art enabled you to see things differently?
Yes. As a student, my interest was a lot about art. I don’t know if it gave me a unique point of view, but of course I do see things in a creative way. I’m the art director [of Moroso], I’m not the money manager or someone who controls the other things in the company. My unique focus is to work on design and decide who is the designer we can collaborate with. I provide them with direction.
However, my point of view is a bit different from the usual ‘common sense’ of industrial design. I like people with a lot of vision and I like them to be free when considering production. I try to make something new. I try to invent.
Tell us all about the headquarters where all the magic happens.
This is where I work with many other people. Our team is a great team. In my creative office, there are a lot of people coming everyday: photographers, designers and graphic designers who make what we do. It is a very intense job but it provides intense satisfaction.
Like in many companies there are many different activities, it is not only about creativity. My brother takes care of the organisation of the company, money and managing all the other things I don’t know anything about. We have different jobs. We are sharing everything but we are also independent.
My father and mother, they are very old but they are here everyday. Their life is the company. They started building the company when they were 20. The rest of the people are managers. Some of them have been working with us for twenty years. Our relationship is a bit like a big family, not a big company.
You’ve made the careers of some of the biggest designers to date. What are the key ingredients for creativity to flourish?
Freedom. I am open to different things. It is very important for me to establish a relationship with the designers to know what they do and what they love by listening to them. I try to understand them before giving them a brief so I can try to give everyone their dream [project] – something appropriate for them. I want them to feel very free because when you are truly free, you are really making something that you really love. You try to push your idea.
“When you are truly free, you are really making something that you really love.”
Who are some of your personal favourite artists?
It is impossible [to choose] because I think that art can be so different and wide.
Olafur Eliasson, for instance, is one of the biggest [artist] in the world to me. He is a super wonderful person and is making important installations of art and architecture. There is a ‘surprise’ element that you can have from being inside one of his installations. He is a very special artist. His studio is like a big atelier with 50 people working within, so he is not a lonely artist making things in his room. I love his work, but I also love the painter who is making things alone.
I also love the performing arts. For instance, Marina Abramovic is one of my favourite person in the world because she changes perspectives. She is working on the sensibility of human beings, what we can do and teaching us how to. That is another way to make art. She is like a ‘guru’ trying to change the world, in a way. I can go on for hours…
Tell us everything else that inspires you.
Music is important. Music is the energy from our hearts and our hearts are big. For me, music is life. I love all genres of music. I won’t say that my favourite is classical jazz, soul, hip-hop, or pop. Everything can be fantastic. Musicians are such great artists. In the past, great. Now, fantastic. Music is joy to me. You can forget your problems or be in contact with someone else when you dance or when you listen. I met my husband dancing…
And of course, books! As soon as I have a little holiday, I love to read. Especially biographies. Books are very important because they are the reverse of this society. What happens before you and during your life, there is an example in the books. Movies are the same.
Life is not forever. Venice is not forever. We have to enjoy the maximum possible joy from what we see and what we have now.
Is time off from work important to you? How do you take respite?
Yes, it is very important to me. Although it is also impossible. My job lasts from Monday to Friday, ten hours a day or more, so the two free days are very important to me. I stay at home or make little trips. Venice is an hour away. It is an incredible and beautiful place to be. I go there very often because I really love the city. It is full of sun and beautiful exhibitions. Venice is my New York. In a year, I can visit 10 to 20 times.
How do you feel about Venice sinking?
It is part of the beauty and fascination with the city. You don’t know if you can see it another time. She is disappearing, so you see something that is getting old and a little bit destroyed every day.
You have to learn from Venice what life is. Life is so short. We have to lose something. Life is not forever. Venice is not forever. We have to enjoy the maximum possible joy from what we see and what we have now.