After a year of great accomplishments, including Euroluce, the Salone del Mobile and Design Week in Milan, the legendary Venetian brand leader in the design field founded by Carlo Urbinati keeps on with its mission to offer style, art and true Italian artisan labor to the American public. I sat down with Renato Delle Side, CEO of Foscarini North and South America, on the eve of the upcoming NYCxDesign 2019 festival and the ICFF – International Contemporary Furniture Fair.
by Tommaso Cartia
The Foscarini showroom is a space where elegance and a sinuous aesthetical minimalism reign. It lights up the center of Soho, a neighborhood that is the perfect mix of the upscale, fashionable New York and hippy New York. There is where I met up with Renato Delle Side, who is as elegant and minimal chic as his showroom. He is also a very passionate man who embraces his job like a life’s mission: to educate his public on the Italian taste in design.
Tell us about your journey here in the U.S. before you started your collaboration with Foscarini.
“I’ve been living here for ten years now. I always worked in marketing and sales, first with Ligne Roset, an important design brand, and now it has been a year that I’m the CEO of Foscarini North & South America.”
The Foscarini style: give us some guidelines.
“Let’s start saying that Foscarini doesn’t have like a production factory, and this was wanted by the President Carlo Urbinati. That is because we don’t want to be forced to use a single material in particular for a massive chain of production. We work with blown glass, carbon fiber, cement. The processing of the materials is done in a very traditional way, that’s Foscarini’s strength; his Italian craftsmen work following the bottega method. They are the ‘maestri vetrai’ (the masters of the glass), the cement workers. Foscarini was the first one who developed a cement lamp, the ‘Aplomb’. When Urbinati went to the man who had been working the cement his entire life (with the designers of the project Lucidi e Pevere) he wrote, in big letters on a piece of paper: ‘This can’t be done.’ Urbinati kept that piece of paper; he saw it as a challenge. Today the ‘Aplomb’ is our best seller, but fifteen years ago it was revolutionary.”
Take us through both the creative and production process of making a lamp.
“One of our core values is that the design must always come before the materials. For example, the ‘Caboche’ lamp, another of our best sellers, was created by Patricia Urquiola, who had one of her favorite pearl bracelets in mind. She went to Urbinati with that bracelet and told him that she wanted to make a lamp like that, she wanted to utilize glass, but it was too heavy. They went for a lighter material, but the design remained intact. Another example is the Twiggy, by Marc Sadler, in carbon fiber. He is a fishing lover and he wanted to make a lamp that had the same flexibility of a fishing cane. To achieve that goal, they went to a maestro who fabricated fishing canes, to understand the mechanism.”
What are the differences in terms of the market and of the taste between the American and the European public?
“There are many differences, of taste, style and of education towards design. We Italians are very lucky because we are exposed, even accidentally, and surrounded by design, art and beauty. The one of Foscarini is also an educational mission, to refine his public taste. Our market here in America is doing so great, this year we saw a growth of the 40% on all of our sales channels. I’m very proud of this.”
To educate us a little bit about what’s trending now, what’s new?
“The most important thing in the lighting field was the introduction of the LED that has been replacing the Light Bulb completely. At the Salone in Milan we presented new 11 lamps, all of them were LED ones, that also consume less and are more green. Today along with the lamp you can download an APP – My Light, that allows you to customize your lamp regulating the light, the color and the temperature.”
What are your plans for the NYCxDesign and the IFCC?
“We will take there the products that we exposed in Milan. Many Americans don’t go to the Salone and so for them it is an occasion to stay updated with the European trends. Recently, The New York Times dedicated an entire page to our UpTown lamp, a scultptural that evokes the style of a typical New York building like the Empire State Building. It was the only lamp that they featured out of Euroluce.”
For more info please visit: www.foscarini.com