Interview with Piuarch
<<The great potential of ceramic coverings is the evolution from a strictly two-dimensional use and product to a three-dimensional material.>>
This year on the occasion of Fuorisalone we had the pleasure of collaborating with the Milanese architecture studio Piuarch on the installationPunti di Vistaon display at Statale Universaity from April 13 to May 24, within the exhibition "Energy for Creativity" featured byInterni Magazine.
We could not miss the opportunity to ask piuarch some questions…
1. Your area of operation runs from urban architecture to interior design. What is the link between these two kinds of design?
Our approach to our work is always the same, regardless of the design scale, and it is based mainly on a thorough analysis of the context into which our project is to fit. Our benchmarks are always the objective “givens”, from the type of client to the context for the design work, both physical and economic and social. We always start from a thorough analysis of the context in which we are working, from the type of climate to the location’s culture and art, and the materials historically used for architecture there. Our projects integrate into the existing scene while retaining their own identity, and the important thing is for them to be in harmony with their surroundings.
2. You’ve been working for a top fashion house for a very long time. How would you describe the experience of producing projects for such a distinctive, very demanding client?
Our relationship with Dolce&Gabbana began in 2000 and we’ve built it into a major partnership by winning their trust step by step, starting with small jobs as local architects to the point where we have now designed more than 40 boutiques all over the world, the Milan offices, the Metropol theatre and the Val d’Arno Factory.
The language we use to express ourselves is similar to theirs, but the dialogue is interesting because we are both inside the creative process day by day and very much involved in the project, with the important ability to listen to each other. The time-scale of fashion is different from that of architecture, where “throughput” times are longer, but the passion for contemporary style and attention to lasting, tailored details, the expression of genuine luxury, are the same.
Over the years we have created a kind of “working hub” for Dolce&Gabbana in the Porta Venezia area in the heart of Milan, with offices and showrooms adaptable to various operating requirements. The district is mainly residential, so the buildings are designed to merge into their context, with architecture which is very modern but not “loud”, capable of blending into the existing urban fabric.
3. Of all your projects, is there one in particular that represents you? Why?
Amongst the various projects we’ve undertaken, I’d like to mention the Quattro Corti Business Centre in the historic heart of Saint Petersburg, very close to Saint Isaac’s Cathedral. It dates from a few years ago, but I’m still very fond of it because it sums up what architectural design means to us.
Quattro Corti fits discreetly into the city’s urban fabric. The fronts of the buildings have retained their original façades, while their different heights are interconnected by an even roof and the interiors by a series of coloured courtyards. In view of the historic and urban context within the city, we decided to renovate the existing building using the courtyard concept, reworked in modern style. Each of them has a different colour – gold, green, blue and white – inspired by the rich colours of Saint Petersburg’s historic architecture.
4. In your view, what is the role of ceramics in architecture? In your opinion, what is the “specific weight” of this material, simultaneously both natural and artificial?
The great potential of ceramic coverings is the evolution from a strictly two-dimensional use and product to a three-dimensional material. To gain new vital power, ceramics must cease to merely reproduce other materials, appearing “fake”, to invest in three-dimensional research, creating optical and visual effects and light/dark contrasts.
One great example of this, still very much up-to-date, is the spontaneous experimentation carried out in the ’60s and ’70s, when ceramics were still in their infancy. Gio Ponti analysed the infinite composition of forms and Nino Caruso rendered the product three-dimensional and tactile, offering an artistic application for everyday contexts.
A new technology needs to be developed, to produce materials which are not just copies but the outcome of in-depth design work to explore the potential of three-dimensional forms, capable of generating experimentation in interior architecture, using ceramics as a skin with a variety of shapes and textures.