Five Minutes With … Francesco Rota!
As the art director of Lapalma and the curator behind the brand’s stand at Orgatec 2018, we caught up with Francesco Rota to learn more about how Lapalma is approaching the future of the working environment.
Find out how the brand continues its pioneering efforts in designing for greater wellbeing, efficiency and support for evolving workplace needs.
Can you share the thinking behind your design for the Lapalma stand?
The idea of this fair stand is based around the concept ‘Talking Contrast’. It's divided into three different areas. One is total black, one is total white, and the last one is warmer and is design with timber.
The idea is to show how Lapalma can communicate its own product, its own collection. When we worked on the black and white it was about showing contrast as an idea – contrast between materials, between colours, between hard and soft product.
It is also about pushing the fact that we have a different way of offering our products to our customers. We also offer a lot of freedom for designers and architects to interpret the range for any need they have, according to their project.
Can you talk about the materiality at Lapalma?
When I arrived at Lapalma five years ago as an art director it was very much concentrated on its principal market, which was Germany. At this time at Lapalma the whole collection was dominated by wood and metal across its products.
For me it was very important to communicate the fact that as an Italian company, there is another aspect to showcase, which is softness. So I started to introduce softer products, like upholstery and fabrics, all through colour and materials.
Now we are getting ready to present a collection that will go outdoor. This means it needs the right material to fulfil its purpose. It will need to resist UV rays and salt, for example. This shows how important material choice is across the whole portfolio of Lapalma.
Can you talk about the new modular system, how it works, its connectivity and its modularity?
The idea came from the fact that Lapalma is a company that likes to produce in a more industrial manner. This led me to the idea that we could have products that offer a kind of customisation, while still utilising industrial processes. This means we could develop a range of products that can easily transform by just changing one element – the material, the surface or the configuration. Essentially it was about developing a group of modules that can be built as needed to perfectly respond to any use a designer may have.
It started with me defining four different areas of work. The first one, which has previously been presented, is the lounge area. Then at Orgatec we presented the light office – an office in terms of a light attitude to the office. Next we will be launching the outdoor range. And then of course, will come hospitality.
What is your design process?
It depends on the company. For me it's very important to see who is my client and what the client desires, but also like to make an analysis of the whole marketplace. I try to get an understanding of the landscape from my own perspective. So I will read through the catalogues and visit the company to get a real sense of its values.
After the analysis I start to sketch ideas and I'll write, I write a lot. And then comes the time to present those ideas.
How do you see health and wellbeing impacting workplaces?
With all the digital support we have around us today it has helped us to get out of the traditional workstation. We work anywhere, and we work everywhere. So ideally, I think it’s important to consider how to work in comfort. As such, workspaces are becoming more similar to domestic spaces as this helps to facilitate work in a more comfortable way.
What's next for Lapalma?
For Lapalma we are in the process of developing these four key areas in the modular ranges. Our next big date is the Salone del Mobile 2019, where we will be presenting the outdoor area. Then we will begin the work on the hospitality range. I would also like to work on the communication and branding for Lapalma, which will hopefully be ready for Salone del Mobile 2019.