Talks

Lanzavecchia + Wai

Designers

“People are asking how their living spaces can add value to their lifestyles and hence demanding more from the objects that inhabit those spaces”.


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_You describe yourselves not as a practice but as a creative collaboration, what does this imply from the standpoint of design and working method?

We work apart physically; Francesca in Italy and Hunn in Singapore, a 6-7 hour difference. But our practice is enabled and assisted by communications technology like Google Drive, Skype, iMessage and What’s App on a daily operations basis, while we travel to each other’s country or region and see each other around 10 times a year.

We have projects on both sides of the world, and to us, this intercontinental arrangement is very important to keeping our practice at the forefront of issues, domains and markets.

_Your work ranges from commissions from large contemporary design brands to prototypes and limited editions for galleries and exhibitions. What sort of relationship do you have with your clients? And how does your modus operandi change according to context?

The best relationships are built on mutual respect, trust and alignment of values and goals. Which fortunately we can say is 99% of the time in the work across domains and verticals.

We think it is something very Italian and Asian to feel that if we can sit down to have a dinner, drinks and good conversations beyond the work, about life and dreams; that we can be friends that step into each others’ comfort zones, for sure the project we are working on will be a good one.

We believe designing the brief is as important as designing for the brief. We believe in bringing value to the context of the project, by probing the domain to unveil questions that have not been asked yet. New questions to bring new answers, new solutions, new value. So in this sense, our modus operandi does not waver from context to context, since the mission, and our process, is to enable new perspectives, reveal new opportunities and forge new perceptions.

_You are two young cosmopolitan and internationally trained designers, what are your references, what are your sources of inspiration?

We get them from our curious observations about phenomenon in the life and world we live in, based on the two questions we ask religiously: “Why is it like that?” and “How can it be better?”.

We travel a lot, we are interested in cultures, be they historical, current or emerging, we keep ourselves very open to the world and the new ways of looking and thinking coming from it.

_Is there a particular subject, a design field that interests you particularly at the moment, one you find stimulating?

We are really interested in many things; Healthcare, Active Ageing, Childcare, Wearables, New Office & Work Trends, Hospitality, Aviation Design, Mixed Reality. And in actual fact, the space we find absolutely fascinating is the one where these domains start to mix, and to make new sense and New Normals are borne. Childcare products with heavy Fashion influences? Awesome! Healthcare facilities that mix in the domestic and hospitality service protocol? Wow!

_Given your experience, how would you say lifestyles are changing? How do people live their homes?

From research and insights, because of how more and more people are exposed to and actively take part in social media, Pinterest and lifestyle channels, they have become more empowered and aware consumers, hungry for experiences.

People are asking how their living spaces can add value to their lifestyles and hence demanding more from the objects that inhabit those spaces. The ongoing trend of more and more compact urban living spaces compounds this entire context as well.

Each product, in their conception and daily usage, has multiple layers of usage-contexts that it needs to serve, enable and afford. Interior products hence have to be thought of as a system, an infrastructure that passively and actively supports lifestyles.

_That said, what new demands are designers having to contend with?

Conducting research, gathering insights, formulating contexts, crafting visions of three, five, ten years into the future, being able to balance Design with User Experience, while considering manufacturing and logistics, and marketing, sales and distribution.

These skills and capabilities will allow the designer to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with C-suite and leadership to have meaningful and impactful conversations that have scale and gravity.

If design is to enable better living and in itself a system of decision making, then in our humble opinion, it is necessary for the designer to understand, be aware of the mechanisms and the gates that can manifest value to many, to make better and more powerful decisions. Now that is Good Design.

_From a personal point of view, however, what sort of relationship do you each have with the domestic space? Is there a particular part of your home that you regard as your comfort zone?

Francesca: It's always a great feeling to come back home after a long trip… home to me is a Safe heaven, a small personal temple. The heart of the home to me is the living room. That's where you decompress after a long day with a yoga session; where surrounded by plants and memorabilia you give yourself to your guests in a long home-cooked dinner seasoned with deep talks and laughters. Living room is the space is the place for silence for talks, for music; is the perfect frame  to get imaginative, get cozy and get intimate.

Hunn: it is the bedroom absolutely. It is a cocoon for intimacy and privacy, to be absolutely myself with my books and various interest journals sprawled, with soft music playing and even softer lighting. Maybe an essential oil burner is going, spicing the air with mediterranean sea breeze and vetiver. A place to meditate, dream and restore.

_Where and how do you imagine yourselves in ten years’ time?

We would be heading a core group of domain experts; architects, design engineers, researchers, sociologists, material experts, coders & developers, business developers as Lanzavecchia + Wai, to generate and articulate potent and sophisticated solutions.

While having a stable of businesses in the fields we feel for and confidently manifest our philosophies: Lifestyle Products, Contract Furniture, Fast Casual Food & Hospitality, Content Publication and Exhibition Curation & Design.

_Is there any one object you see as iconic? The perfect design object, let’s say?

The screw. It is at the perfect intersection of function, scalability, manufacturing, material, cost of production, distribution, accessibility of usage and that it keeps our world and man-made objects together.

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