Design Italy co-founder Paola serena interviewed by Cristina Morozzi for Milano Design Week

Paola Serena interviewed by Cristina Morozzi for Milano Design Week

On Milano Design Week, Cristina Morozzi interviews Paola Serena, co-founder of Design Italy. Design Italy participates at Fuorisalone with the exhibition "When Material meets Design". Read the interview.

The Salone will take place as always at the Rho Pero fairgrounds and will be a "Supersalone", with shared spaces and an arena for meetings with international designers and entrepreneurs. 

Fuorisalone, as usual, will invade the city in showrooms, museums, historic buildings and squares.

The Triennale will inaugurate an exhibition on Carlo Mollino.

The new ADI Museum will host "Take your seat, solitude and conviviality of the chair" curated by Nina Bassoli, with installation by Alessandro Colombo and Perla Gianni. The inauguration will take place on September the 4th with a jazz concert by Blue Note in the Compasso d'Oro square. 

There will be a new district, the youngest and most extensive, "Alpha district" in the area of the former Alfa Romeo in Portello, with the epicentre in Piazza Gino Valle, designed by Foro studio. 

Even the residential Via Vincenzo Monti will come to life, thanks to the presence of Design Italy at Fuorisalone. 

Design Italy, based in Via Vincenzo Monti 12 and launched at the end of 2019, is a digital boutique dedicated to exporting contemporary design products exclusively Made in Italy.

The goal is to promote Italian excellence globally.

I asked Paola Serena, co-founder of Design Italy, to tell us about the "When Material meets Design" project for Fuorisalone 2021 and, backwards, to hint at its history.


Fuorisalone 2021 aims to show some products available on our website and document the design path from matter to product. We have selected four manufacturing companies that, within our offer, stand out for unusual creations in materials such as rice chaff, aluminium, cardboard, corn and cork.

At our headquarters, we have set up a "craft room" where designers and artists will take turns to show how "matter becomes design": among them, Denis Santachiara with his most recent project consisting of objects made from a single sheet of laser-cut aluminium; DygoDesign, a group of young people who are proposing a series of vases in a plastic material derived from corn; Giorgio Caporaso, who is presenting some of his furnishings from the "Lessmore" collection in cardboard and wood, and OTQ who is exhibiting Bisu, a cork bed. 

Our Fuorisalone also involves spaces of proximity. For example, at L'Alter bar, in Via Vincenzo Monti 15, Suber proposes a series of furnishings in cork made from recycled corks. At the Zakuro restaurant, in Via Vincenzo Monti 16, BBB Italia exhibits Gio Ponti's seat made of Resysta, a material obtained from rice.


How many companies are there on the Design Italy website?


More than 130, selected on the basis of sustainability criteria, both in terms of materials and processes. As far as products are concerned, we focus on innovation, looking for innovative objects in terms of aesthetics, materials and performance.


What are the predominant materials?


Sustainable and easily recyclable, possibly of natural origins, such as rice, corn, cork and cardboard. Cork is a material little used in furniture, also obtained by recycling used corks. Cardboard, represented by the Lessmore furniture line by Giorgio Caporaso. We also show the new collection by Cyrcus Design, including about 200 objects obtained from a single aluminium sheet. Worth mentioning is Resysta, the new material for outdoor use obtained from rice, used for the famous 940 chairs by Gio Ponti. Finally, Dygo Design presents vases with 3D moulding, starting from corn.


So sustainability and innovation are the cornerstones of Design Italy?


Absolutely. Beyond aesthetics, which belongs to personal sensitivity, the criteria that guide our choices are innovation and sustainability, always with an eye to creativity and its protagonists, represented by new generation's designers engaged in projects that respect nature and its safeguard. 


Tell me about yourself.


I was born in Naples and graduated in economics and business there. Then I moved to London. From a distance, I understood the importance of Made in Italy. So, in two years, we built Design Italy with my husband Roberto Ferrari (former CheBanca! G.M.), who is also Neapolitan.

The most crucial part was scouting the artisans and creatives of which the Italian regions are rich. We put passion and dedication into scouting to build an offer that represented the abundant variety of Italy and would highlight specialized skills cultivated for generations. 

I was guided by the desire to discover. I relied on my curiosity and sense of aesthetics, driven by an exact idea, which matured over time, of the value of Italian design. Not only commercial but based on a recognizable style and the narrative behind each creation. At the base of each product, there is always a very particular story, dictated by geographical origin, attitudes, coincidences and sometimes even by chance. Scouting means interpreting the creations' language that tells of uses and pertinences and always reflects the creator's personality and attitudes. By observing, we learn to choose.


Design Italy offers a wide range of products. So what is the secret to building such a varied collection in a short time?


I believe the secret is to rely on expert consultants, be curious, not falling in line with current tastes. 

Always trying to surprise, catching the unprecedented, searching in the system folds and listening to even the faintest voices.

Cristina Morozzi

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published