words by Marcello Taioli
Running through the Design Talks programme – a series of seminar sessions held at INDEX Exhibition at the Dubai World Trade Centre last May – I could not miss the opportunity to meet the promising Venetian designer Matteo Bianchi.
The Italianness enclosed in his name and also in his floral shirt – even if disguised by his perfect London accent and by a cheeky Union Jack patterned bow tie – appeared even more evident once I met this capable “expat” so far from home.
I took a front-row seat and let myself go into this engaging journey of product design.
After his graduation in Political Sciences and his moving to London eleven years ago, Matteo wanted to give a shake to his career and decided to follow his real passion, subscribing to an interior design course at the Chelsea College of Art and Design.
He began designing several residential and commercial interiors with an elegant yet playful style, such as the hotel 947 Rooms in Venice, London real estate office Location Location and the exclusive houses in Chelsea, Muswell Hill and Islington. The debut into the world of product design happened in 2011, with the participation at an international design competition for a pouf chair.
Taking inspiration from an icon of British pastry, Matteo Bianchi conceived and manufactured the Muffin Pouffe, a piece of furniture acclaimed with great success at Tent London the very same year. This object conveys fine research, cheerfullness and versatility, in line with the philosophy of this already renowned designer. The soft handmade leather cushion – available in different colours inspired by the traditional cake ingredients – encloses a comfortable vain caved in the solid wood base, this being modeled just like a paper cup.
The step towards new important creations is short.
For Morelato, Matteo has designed Peekaboo, a cupboard which serves as lighting thanks to its LED backlit Venetian doors and Dory, an oval coffee table with a stylish herringbone wooden finish and a lower shelf available in different plain lacquered colours.
For Artesia he has created Kites, a collection of bicolour slate wall coverings with a kite-shaped texture and Cara, a series of bigger slate wall panels with slightly different finishings.
For Italamp he has designed Baffo, a trombone-shaped ceiling lamp with a double circuit: one for direct downlight illumination and a second circuit giving a relaxing horizontal light.
For Penta he has conceived Acorn, a concrete ceiling lamp with glass diffuser inspired by the shape of the oak seeds. A waterproof system allows the installation of this lamp at any point of the bathroom.
The latest work signed by Matteo Bianchi Studio is Juliette, an original refined writing desk made of wood, metal and handcrafted leather, produced by prestigious Italian brand Tisettanta.
Soon after the seminar, I took the opportunity to interview Matteo Bianchi while sipping a mojito.
Do you think that Italian design as well as Italian craftsmanship have still a lot to offer to the international markets, especially to the Middle East?
The more I design, the more I acknowledge the amazing level of our know-how. In some countries everything is so dim, but when it comes to Italian companies, even the youngest ones, the level of expertise is terrific. Unfortunately sometimes they lack of a service able to fulfil the needs of the international markets.
The products are top level, but the production process is not able to follow the hectic pace of London. The supply and demand mechanism does not flow properly and this results in annoying hitches.
Despite all this, will you continue to collaborate with our Italian brands?
Of course I will, but only with the most professional ones, switched on, smart and open-minded. Business contracts must be clear and sound, especially when it comes to fees…
…good agreements make good friends. What are you working at right now?
I have been asked to draw an entire collection of writing desks and a wine cabinet by Tisettanta. Also, I am working on a new lighting series for a couple of renowned brands for the upcoming international exhibition Euroluce.
Will you be back at INDEX exhibition next year?
Of course I will. I have been working with the fair promoters DMG Events for years and if all goes well, next year we will strive to enhance our collaboration even more actively.