A Part of Life

Architecture is to furniture what a gold ring is to a diamond— the opportunity for a perfect setting. Since all furniture lives within the context of architecture, it is vital to consider the space it will occupy. Here's where the opportunity comes in play. Architecture is the grand piano in a concerto and furniture is the diverse and colourful orchestra. The maestro who brings these two together is a Milanese architect Luigi Caccia Dominioni, who is best known for his subtlety in design solutions, saying in an interview with Monocle’s Italian correspondent Ivan Carvalho, “My job is to provoke emotions, be it through my entranceways, my stairs, even the furniture — they are all solutions.” 

Seeing a problem in the industry’s inability to produce furniture to his specifications, he started his furniture company Azucena with two other architects, together designing over 100 objects to compliment the uniqueness of his buildings. Since every space has distinctive qualities making up its characteristics, anything from the direction of the sunlight to the people occupying them make the space unique, so to does the furniture require adequate customization.

“It was not about launching a brand. At times we had problems not having the right interior furnishings so I’d have to invent something new.” Says Cassia. Carvalho goes on to describe what sets the company apart, “unlike the competition, Azucena doesn’t have its own factory, relying instead on a network of artisans extending from the nearby furniture-manufacturing district of Brianza all the way to Veneto. Its funnel-shaped Imbuto lamp, for example, requires half a dozen artisans to make its stem, base and lampshade, then handpaint and varnish it before an electrician puts it together.” Marta Sala, Caccia’s niece who now runs Azucena, says, “(the process is) time consuming but the quality is there, we’ve tried laser cutting to make certain parts but we’ve found the product loses its identity. It’s an artisanal process.”

I’ve found the handmade characteristic of a piece of furniture not only ensures the quality of the piece but also the feeling it evokes in the one enjoying it. Metaphysically speaking, we shape the world around us to emanate our views and values. We are drawn to pieces of art that reflect and affirm our beliefs and aesthetic tastes. Furniture is a personal expression within our home and workspace. This is an opportunity to solve problems and to express ourselves in unique and beautiful ways, both in the architecture of the building and the furniture we choose to place within it.


Find the full story on monocle.com/magazine/issues/63/part-of-the-furniture/

May 2013, Issue 63, volume 7p.117-122. Writer: Ivan Carvalho Photographer: Gaia Cambiaggi