Piero Lissoni (© G. Gastel)

“The choice of materials is of prime importance” – Interview with Piero Lissoni

Piero Lissoni has gained a worldwide reputation as architect and designer. Running four studios in Milan and New York, he is covering projects from whole buildings to interiors and products for renowned international companies. We talked with the Italian allrounder about the importance of materials and surfaces for his work.

Piero Lissoni, how important are materials, surfaces, connected technologies for your work as an architect as well as a designer?Truly essential! When I’m designing an object the choice of materials is of prime importance. The surface of a piece of furniture is like its skin, with a tangible, tactile appeal. New technologies in surface treatment provide new fascinating and sophisticated opportunities. The surface area is communicating with the outside world so to speak.

ALPI Designer Collection by Piero Lissoni (© Federico Cedrone)

Lissoni Architettura: Hotel Roomers, Bar, Baden-Baden (© Noshe for Gekko Group)

Since one year you are art director of ALPI, a leading company in the production of decorative composite wood surfaces and an exhibitor at ZOW. This task includes so various aspects as developing new products, branding, visual appearance of the company etc. What are the major challenges when working in this field?
Our goal is always to create innovations and new surfaces. The wood that ALPI utilizes is rigorously of controlled origin, and completely processed in-house and a precious resource. A very important point in the sustainable production process of composite wood is environmental and social responsibility. Resource saving is a great challenge. Through continuous research ALPI has developed a technological process for retransforming recycled wood into a new artificial wood that has similar properties, visual characteristics as well as haptic qualities like real wood.

Porro Storage by Piero Lissoni (© Porro)

Boffi, Garden sink by Piero Lissoni (© Boffi)

Where do you see – or would you like to see – main developments in the field of materials and surfaces, now and in the near future?
I would like to work in a field where saving natural resources and sustainability are self-evident. We need to stop cutting real trees and destroying our woods. New nano-technological procedures and new surface treatments support this ecological development in the field of materials. This synthetic progression will surprise us by even superior material performances, compared to the natural products. One day simulated wooden materials will be more natural than nature itself.

Piero Lissoni (© G. Gastel)

In 1986, Piero Lissoni and Nicoletta Canesi founded Lissoni Associati in Milan, later followed by the visual communications company Graph.x, Lissoni Architettura and New York based Lissoni Inc. Furthermore, Lissoni is the art director for various major brands including ALPI, a leading company in the production of decorative composite wood surfaces and an exhibitor at ZOW.