Meet Renowned Italian Designer Luca Nichetto!
The Italian visionary on his childhood in Murano, Italy, what inspires him and his jet-set lifestyle as an international furniture designer.
When Luca Nichetto isn’t busy developing products for international brands like Nendo, De La Espada and Foscarini, he can be found exhibiting his eye-catching work at any one of the world’s major design fairs. With such a prolific background, it would be easy to be intimidated by the designer. That is, if the man sitting in the quiet living room set-up in Toronto design shop Mjölk didn’t immediately radiate warmth and calm. Here are some highlights from our one-on-one chat with the renowned Italian designer, along with a look at some of his most stunning work.
House & Home: Your collection with Portuguese brand De La Espada doesn’t feel like it’s from one particular place — it nods to a lot of different design influences.
Luca Nichetto: I really like that people can see different things in my collection. Someone could say, “Ah, this looks very Japanese,” or “Oh, this is American” or “Maybe it’s a mix.” When everyone can see something there, but it can’t really be defined… you can only have this when you’re trying to touch on different inspirations and cultures. In my opinion, this is what design is in 2016; we’re living in a global world.
H&H: You’re constantly on the go. Why is travel so essential to your work?
LN: I really like to discover new things and new ways of thinking. I don’t want to be a person who says, ‘It’s always like this, for this reason.’ I need to ask myself questions… maybe change my point of view. That, I think, is the most beautiful thing about travel. I’m working a lot in China right now for my work with Zaozuo, for example, and I’m discovering an amazing world.
H&H: If you weren’t a designer, what would you do?
LN: I don’t know [laughs], because it’s not like I really decided to be a designer. It was a very natural process. I was born in Murano, grew up in Murano. My father was a glassblower; my mother was a glass decorator. So the environment around me was very creative — 99.99 per cent of the people in Murano are involved in the glass industry. So for me, the translation between a drawing and an object was something very normal. It was like what eating an apple would be in another village.
H&H: How did you get your start in design?
LN: Since I had a talent for drawing, I studied at the Art Institute in Venice. In the summer, it’s normal to prepare a folder of your drawings and tour around Murano, knocking on the doors of different factories. When I finished university I continued this ritual, and then had the chance to meet Simon Moore, the art director of Salviati. He gave me a shot, and I designed a piece that became a company bestseller. I remember I bought my first computer, scanner and printer with the money. That’s how I got my start. I was really just following my gut — that’s it. And I’m still doing that.
H&H: Is this how you decide whether or not to do a design collaboration, as well?
LN: Yes, it’s always very natural. Of course, I look at things from a business point of view, but when I decide to do a collaboration money might be the last thing I’m thinking about. I’m always thinking about if it will be interesting for me, if I’ll be happy doing it. I think personal relationships are very important in the work that we’re doing.
H&H: When — or where — would you say you feel the most creative?
LN: I think people give me a lot of energy. The more interesting people I meet, the more my creativity explodes. I don’t decide that I’m going to be creative in the morning or at the studio, for example. It depends a lot on encounters.
H&H: You’ve exhibited your work at all the major design fairs. Which one is your favorite?
LN: Milan — and not because I’m Italian, but because there aren’t any design weeks like it! Maybe it’s a bit too much, because you can’t possibly see everything, but it’s the only design week in the world where you can speak with anyone from taxi drivers to people at hotels and restaurants, and you’ll know that there’s a design week. The whole city is involved.
H&H: What’s the best advice you’ve received from another designer?
LN: Back in 2004, I was very frustrated professionally, because I felt there weren’t many things I could do from Venice. I knew that if I moved to Milan it would be much easier for me to work — the whole Italian design machine is there. But I had my own studio in Venice and didn’t want to move to a new land.
One day I spoke with [designer] Fabio Novembre. He said, “Luca, listen to me: you are a Venetian designer; there are no others like you. If I were you, I’d underline that so people can understand your origins.” Then he talked about Marco Polo, who travelled to China and returned back to Venice with lots of new ideas that changed our history. “It’s part of your blood to be based in a small city like Venice and discover the world,” he said. I really liked that suggestion, and I still apply it. In the end, I think it’s been working.
This interview has been edited and condensed.