INTERVIEW WITH THE DESIGNER DOMENICO OREFICE:
I grew up in Milan, in the Barona district near the Navigli, when this area still belonged to the outskirts of the city, in a fortunate and happy area because it is surrounded by greenery, close to the countryside and nature. I started doing graffiti and street art while studying Product Design at the Milan Politecnico. I have always felt the need to express my identity and in every period of my life there has been a medium who has allowed me.
I founded my studio when I was very young, in 2010, and I was lucky enough to work as an art director taking care of catalogs, stands and the image of some Italian and foreign brands. This was a great training ground for understanding the importance of the image that a product conveys. Precisely for this reason I give great importance to the photos of my objects, which I personally take care of and which I consider the final link, which conveys the entire path of previous research.
Domenico, what is your mission?
I feel like a designer-craftsman and my goal is to carry on my projects and collaborations, evolving personal paths started a few years ago and trying to create new ones. For me it is not important to work in an industrial or artisan dimension, the important thing is to find the right people to collaborate with and from this meeting to create a dialogue that leads to a contamination of knowledge and ideas. This is one of the aspects that I like most about my work: the choral and sharing aspect. My aim is to make my planning available to those who share the idea of design as a strong lever of innovation for change.
When you work on a project, where do you start from?
In my approach I feel strong both a technical / analytical element and an expressive / creative element, which in a dialogue find form and give rise to a process that expresses the complexity of reality. I can start from the material, from the techniques with which a material is modeled or from the design limits given, and this applies both to a product, a stand or a catalog.
How would you define your style?
More than a style, I can find recurring elements in my products, which together express the complexity of the world around us and which gives value to these projects, and knows how to make people who touch and use them appreciate them. It can be a material, formal or functional element. Objects are inhabited by an internal tension, which pushes the various elements to stay together and it is in this struggle that their completeness is created.
What inspires you?
Inspiration is something that has settled in us since childhood, which over the years is stratified. This can come from memories, from personal feelings or from atmospheres in photographs, or from architectural projects. For me it can come from the most diverse fields, for example listening to music or a work of art. Observing these areas connects me to the present. Living in the present, the contemporaneity is very important and therefore inspiration has a personal basis that for me has always fallen into today and observing what happens in the world, in culture and in socio-economic aspects.
What is your favorite project to date and why?
The “Le Terre” project, presented in 2019 at Edit Napoli, was a process of research and recovery of old craft traditions and archaic materials, such as terracotta, raw earth and cotton cellulose, which takes up the artisan production of paper. The latter material is produced by Milleforma, an Italian startup that uses this patent to make soundproof panels and which, at the end of their life cycle, can dissolve in water and return to cellulose to make paper. These materials have been applied to make a limited edition of everyday objects. This project, starting from the international focus on radical recovery materials, was a response that went to the origins of the natural materials of our history.
What is the element that determines the success of a project?
As I said, the success of a project lies in observing the context in which we live and responding to a need that at that moment other people feel and share. From this was born the project of “le Giare” amphorae, designed in 2019, which respond to my need to return to touch the material and feel it, a feeling common to many people in our historical phase, so overloaded with technological stimuli.
These were produced in the historic Curti furnace in Milan, which I have known since I was a child. In this furnace I learned from some masters how to model ceramics and from this various projects were born and these amphorae were made with a master turner with great skills.
This was done on the lathe, breaking the continuity of the shape and its modeling.
Therefore it must be made in several pieces and for this a great expertise is required both in its production and in joining the various elements. Its shape is the result of this process that makes it unique in its kind and for this reason, despite the references to classicism and those proportions, these amphorae break with the past to become something new. In 2018, again in this furnace so full of history, the “Man de Milan” project (Mani di Milano) started, presented at the Salone Satellite during the Salone del Mobile 2018. A project that developed on the research of various realities in the Lombardy region, creating various collaborations as well as with Fornace Curti, with carpenters artisans in Brianza, producers of fabrics and carpets, with whom a relationship has been created that continues today and evolves.
What are you working on at the moment?
In 2020 I worked a lot with stone materials, a continuation of my material research in the exploration of “classic” processes, which resulted in a collection called “Cava” produced by the Alfaterna Marmi company. The first piece presented at the Edit Napoli limited edition fair is a fruit plate, which wants to break the formal classicism of marble processing. Inspired by the natural material, it is perforated like stone eroded by atmospheric elements, bringing the technical processing of the mechanical cutter and craftsmanship to the highest levels. Working a lot on the surface of the materials I am also carrying out a collection of fabrics and starting new collaborations in the world of furniture.
In which direction do you see the world of design going?
In Italy the culture of design is deeply rooted thanks to its great history and its still very strong present, while in the rest of the world design is specializing either towards an ultra-technical and scientific direction or towards a direction of returning to its origins, with small local productions, attentive to a more sustainable macro system that gives sustenance to local productions. Surely this period is very complex and great upheavals are taking place in our society, just as nature has been giving us strong signals for some time. The upheavals we are experiencing will certainly lead to important changes and we will all be forced in a short time to be more aware of them. The role of the designer faces a great challenge: that of being more and more one of those guiding roles between man and technology, between man and progress, returning to an active, pragmatic and political role.