Aidan Imanova meets pioneering Italian designer Piergiorgio Cazzaniga to discuss the evolution of furniture design from the 60s till today.
“Design is my life — I do it with pleasure. I like to think about it, I like discovering it. At the end of the day, it is something simple. A few lines and something beautiful is born”, says Piergiorgio Cazzaniga, a man known for his contribution to modern design that dates back to the 1960s. Years later, design continues to occupy a major part of his life.
Sitting in the new Andreu World showroom in Dubai, surrounded by the works of Patricia Urquiola, Jasper Morrison and Cazzaniga himself, the designer looks back at his early career and his first encounter with design that started almost from the time he was born.
Born into a carpenter’s family, Cazzaniga’s fascination with design began with watching his father.
“From when I was a child I had seen how to design and how to produce because whatever my father designed and created in his mind, he then created in reality. He brought life to the design process, bringing ideas into reality,” he explains.
Following his early exposure to craftsmanship, Cazzaniga entered a special school for design where he met designer Tito Agnoli, he describes as a special moment in his career. He cites Agnoli as someone who showed him a “different approach in communicating design”.
While his father taught him the raw and linear process of producing furniture pieces, Agnoli showed him an alternative perspective, to design for the masses. He opened the doors to the industrial process of design and the idea of creating for a specific industry.
“It was then that I understood that design would be my future and my professional career,” Cazzaniga says.
From 1962 to 1964, he worked as technical department manager at Besana Mobili and from 1966 to 1971 he continued his career as research and development department manager at Boffi Cucine, where he played a vital role in the European standardisation process of sizes in cabinets and built-in household appliances for kitchens. He then developed all the company’s new products designed in that period.
His career then pushed him forward to becoming a partner at the A&D Studio with Luigi Massoni and Abelardo Pelizza, where he designed products, show rooms and exhibitions for leading Italian furnishing companies such as Boffi and Poltrona Frau.
In 1991 Cazzaniga launched his own studio, Piergiorgio Cazzaniga Design, in Milan and it was then that he was able to truly define and express his own artistic personality, his approach and ideas.
From his studio Cazzaniga designed for brands such as Porro, MDF Italia, Desalto and Andreu World, for whom he launched a 2015 furniture collection, which this year won five awards, including the 2015 Red Dot Design Award for his Reverse Conference tables system.
“There has been a dramatic change from the time I started in the design industry to today. In particular, the thing that has changed the most is the world itself,” he laughs.
“Design has evolved according to the evolution of the world and the evolution of technology to which we are continuously exposed. It has also evolved to cater to the needs of the market. In fact, I cannot determine how much of this change is a result of the actual change in design or as a result of market demands.”
“There are two ways of thinking: one is asking ‘what do you need and I will create it?’ and the second is the designer realising that there is something missing in the market and proposing it. These two ways of thinking work in parallel to one another,” he explains.
“At the end, what remains is usually not what was demanded but what the designer created out of his thoughts and ideas. What remains are designs by Eames, designs that were created in the golden age. They were created 50 or 60 years ago but they are still relevant today. And that is because these designs were created with a greater level of thought. What remains from them is true design, the rest is just decoration.”
Cazzaniga cites his influences back to the days of his father’s carpentry where he would flip through magazines about Scandinavian and American design, later followed by a trip to Japan that also greatly influenced his aesthetic.
Describing design in its simple form, Cazzaniga says: “Design is an action of creating something beautiful that is not natural. Of course there is a lot of natural beauty around us, but design produces a beauty from the imagination. Natural beauty helps design find beauty that is intelligent and that comes from within your mind, a beauty that is then created.”
Cazzaniga’s 2015 collection for Andreu World can be seen at the firm’s newly launched showroom located in the Jumeirah Business Centre 3 in Jumeirah Lakes Towers.