During the 2017 edition of the Salone del Mobile we met Anna Bartoli from the studio Bartoli Design, who together with his brother Paolo continues the experience begun in 1960 by his father Carlo.
Carlo Bartoli is the creator of some iconic pieces of Italian design, such as the Gaia armchair for Arflex, the Tube collection for Rossi by Albizzate, the 4875 armchair for Kartell, the studio has collaborated and still collaborates with many other leading companies in the sector furniture.
SDM: to begin, a brief presentation, how was the Bartoli studio born and how does it approach design?
Anna Bartoli: The studio was born in the 60s with the work of my father Carlo who is an architect, as I am an architect and my brother Paolo is an architect, now we work in three.
In the 60s he actually began as an architect, then it happens that with one of the first building crises he tries to do something else, he starts a first collaboration with Arflex thanks to fortuitous events, he needed a series of furnishings for himself, he designed these furnishings on his needs, then he proposed them to Arflex, they are interested, so, almost by chance he started to be a designer.
That the years 60 was a fertile period where they developed many brands that are now famous throughout the world, are icons of our design.
This activity as a designer, mixed with that of an architect, is what we continue to do today, we mainly do design, but also architecture and we transfer the experiences and needs of architecture into our work as a designer.
SDM: in your experience what is the spark that triggers the creative process?
Anna Bartoli:The creative process can have different sparks, several births, we believe a lot in collaboration with companies, so it is often dialogue with companies that do nasceredegli stimuli, which then deepen.
These stimuli derive from social conditions, for example, which then create the need for new products, from the fact that the company wants to explore a different theme regarding technology, that the company relates to a new type of customer for which does not yet have products, or, sometimes, it arises from the fact that by attending different companies and thinking a lot about the types of products, we realize gaps that we believe would be worth filling and we have some ideas that we consider innovative and interesting to develop .
Creativity is a complex process, as if so many stimuli and also so many constraints were sedimented and converged in a moment which then must be synthesized by us in a rational way, there is a creative moment which however is one with a synthesis that it is also rational, it is not an artist's work that of a designer.
SDM: every project has a story that leads from the idea to the production of the object, which of your products is the one with the most interesting story?
Anna Bartoli:A recent product that, in my opinion, well illustrates our way of approaching the project is a chair we made for Kristalia, it is called 1085 edition, it is a chair that was born precisely from a stimulus from the company, from an artisanal manufacturing leather, which is not from the world of furniture, but belongs to the world of footwear.
A historic tannery that made the soles of the boots for Ardito Desio's ascent to K2, an interesting corporate history of an artisan company, set the tone for this process. They produce a very thick leather, 7 mm, with which we were asked to design a design product.
It had never been used for design, we thought of using it to make a chair, it is a leather that must practically be tamed, because it is not suitable for furniture, it must be pulled in a very particular way. So we printed it, we gave it a three-dimensional shape, we used nautical tie rods, we stretched it over a metal frame, we used this material for its lift characteristics and it became a very interesting project of synthesis between a artisan tradition, our work as a designer and Kristalia's technology, which instead put all the supporting structural part, also investing in molds. Everything has become a design product.
SDM: what is the difference between the design of the 60s and the contemporary one?
Anna Bartoli:There is an abyss between designing in the 60s and designing now. In the 60s, innovation first of all arose from the need to make, to give products that weren't there, there was an innovation on materials, an innovation on types, the lack of serial products that could serve everyone, therefore there has been a flourishing of innovative products.
Before there was no idea of industrial production of design, especially in the furniture sector, the products were all handcrafted, instead in the 60s we witnessed the application of technologies in the design sector for furniture and beyond, then especially the social needs, to respond to the needs of the population with products that did not exist before, all this has produced epochal inventions.
Now there is everything, there is too much, especially in our furniture sector, there is no need to have a new chair, a new bookcase or a new kitchen, so you work in a traditional way, still on the product , above all as regards the finishes, the technical performances, the perfection of the details.
From my point of view now we are really changing epochally so design also becomes the study of the business process in all its aspects, of the commercial process, of the service, of the customer involvement, of the explanation of what is behind the product, which represents the difference between one company and another and between one product and another.
So the role of the designer has changed so much, we have to know everything about the business world, we can no longer take care only to design a product.