Do You Know The Cappellini Method?

Do You Know The Cappellini Method?

Dubai - The Godfather of Design, Giulio Cappellini, talks to us about how the youth of Dubai is helping turn the city into an internationaldesign hub

By Maan Jalal

Published: Tue 29 Nov 2016, 10:37 AM

Last updated: Fri 2 Dec 2016, 12:40 PM

Giulio Cappellini knows design. He also knows designers, their nuances their process, their complexities. Giulio also understands the seduction of objects. Because whether you've realised it or not objects can mean everything to us. A vase on a table, the way a chair sits in a corner, that shade of wood for our dining table, the colour of those cushions . . . our living spaces are the ultimate form of self expression and the one place we want to feel completely comfortable.

Giulio personally handles the image and products of the Cappellini brand, not only in his role as Art Director but also as a designer. Many Cappellini products are part of the permanent collections of the most important contemporary art museums. Recently he was selected by Time magazine as one of the ten global trendsetters in the field of fashion and design. Like we said, Giulio Cappellini knows design.
Giulio was recently in Dubai to launch his new book The Cappellini Method which covers his relationship with design and designers. He spoke to us about Dubai, his design philosophy and the future of deisgn

Dubai's multi cultural make up, its drive and contemporary spirit is reflecting back through the growing infrastructure of the design industry. In the center of that are the local based designers of the city.

"I'm very interested to see what's going on in the Middle East and the Far East. In the past, design was only in Italy and Europe and North America. I've seen some interesting local designers with a lot of sensibility in the use of the materials. For me the most important thing is not to lose the DNA. For example when I work with a designer, if I'm working with a designer that comes from Sydney or Hong Kong or from New York or Milan, I try and read their history in a contemporary way."

"Dubai is incredible because it's changing so quickly and there is a lot of energy. Living in Europe sometimes everything is so slow. Here, it's full of energy! The thing I really like about Dubai is that it's a real multi cultural city. This for young people is very interesting. So maybe in Europe we look at the past but here we look at the future."

Another balance that must be stuck when creating, is design that is relevant in the contemporary sense but also retains elements of timelessness.

"Good designs create a real timeless product. We could talk about "fashion" in terms of colour, in terms of finishing, in terms of fabrics. For example today, the palette of colour is not the same palette of colours ten or twenty years ago. So this is the fashionable part. On the other side, if the product is good, it will be timeless."

The creative process and the commercial product are another two extremes that designers have to take into account. It's hard for us to see this as a struggle when we look at the completed pieces by Cappellini. But taking risk in his work, has been the ultimate payoff for Giulio.

"Sometimes you need to take some risk. Because I think today in design there are so many copies and the only way to fight against copies is to invest in the product. You must try to be contemporary and that means to work on research. Not only in terms of new shapes but also new materials, new production systems, new textiles. We have to try today to do something better than what we made 15 years ago or else it makes no sense. So this is a process. We have to look to the future without killing our history. But this process of making something good is important and sometimes, we have to take risk!"

What stands out in all the work that Giulio has created and mentored is the balance struck between creating pieces that are both aesthetically appealing but actually performing as they should. So in a battle between functionality and form, what takes precedence?

"I always say that we have to create beautiful products but nobody needs useful and horrible products. Functionality is absolutely very important. We have to think also about the dimensions of the objects. Some young people who like design but live in the centre cities are in small apartments, so functionality and the right size of the object is really important. The secret is to find the right balance between design and function. It's not enough to do a nice chair. The chair has to also be comfortable. It's not enough to do a nice sofa, the sofa has to be comfortable. Functionality and durability are very important. Quality, quality, quality! It's so important."

Whether we realise it or not, there is a correlation between design, how we live and the current climate of the world. Social constructs, political climates and cross cultural exchange all have an effect on the aesthetics we choose to surround ourselves with.

"Why do people now want to live in a more soft and warm atmospheres? Cause people want to feel safe when they are at home. Second I'm sure the perception of the material, the perception of the colours and sometimes of shape is different in different parts of the world. It's really important to take care of the local culture, of the local heritage. With globalisation everything can look the same everywhere in the world. I think we have to back up just a little bit to our identity. This connection between architecture, design, fashion, art with the local culture is absolutely important."
On Classic Mistakes
"Many times people create an interior in their own house to show off and not cause they really like it. For me this is a mistake because if you live in one house you have to feel this house. I can tell you that  interior and design is becoming more sort of a social cultural phenomena and I think again this approach is a big change."

Wouldn't it be facinating to see how Giulio's design philosophy plays out in his home?
"In my house there are products by Cappellini, products from other companies, some unique pieces that some friend designers designed for me, pieces of contemporary art, some old objects from the Far East. My approach to design is freedom. Freedom to mix different products, different people from different periods by different companies in different parts of the world and they say that this freedom is becoming more and more strong for people."
The Book: The Cappellini Method
"It isn't just a celebration of Cappellini, it's a book that speaks about my dreams, some of my experiences in terms of production and such and also about my relationships and meetings with some of the designers. It's very important to tell the people what happens with the design of products and the designers themselves. People often ask me how I choose my designers and I always say if there is the right feeling. The relationship is really very important so to try and describe some of these beautiful stories, is an interesting experience. So this is the kind of book you can read from the beginning to the end, from the end to the beginning or chapter by chapter. They are small stories that speak about my life and the history of Cappellini"

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