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Design Talent: Serena Confalonieri

Step into Serena Confalonieri’s world: an unstoppable force of nature, the Milan-based designer and art director is known for playing with every color in the rainbow with unmatched savoir faire. Get a glimpse of her kaleidoscopic universe, where there are no boundaries between feminine charm and avant-garde vision.

Known as designer and art director, Serena Confalonieri’s work ranges between many creative fields, from product and interior to graphic and textile design. In 2013, she made her debut at Milan Design Week and since then she has worked with many international and Italian design brands such as ​Nodus​Altreforme, ​Carpet Edition​Vetrofuso​Texturae​Portego​My Home​Mohebban​Medulum​Mason Editions​L’opificio and ​Karpeta.

After graduating in Interior Design at Politecnico di Milano, Serena Confalonieri started to define her signature style, characterized by strong contrasts, unexpected subjects and eccentric material combinations. Since the beginning her distinctive femininity has marked her design, together with an ironic combination of decorative details and geometric patterns. Discover Serena Confalonieri’s colorful world and her new Nebula Collection.

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Your iconic and assertive style is the distinctive characteristic of your work. How did you merge your creativity with the stylistic and functional needs of other brands in your various collaborations?

I try to interpret companies and their characteristics through my style, revisiting materials, production methods, and details that are part of the brand's DNA, all the while staying true to my style. My creativity is distinguished by strong decorative elements that I use to define the products’ shapes and surfaces while balancing flair and functionality.

There is greater expressive freedom in independent productions, unconstrained from the functional needs dictated by companies and mass production. It is a world in which I feel particularly at ease: working with artisans, rediscovering past techniques, and being able to have fun with shapes and colors are inexhaustible sources of inspiration for me.

Within the contemporary Italian landscape, your personality is expressed in different ways, sometimes with an extremely personal and markedly feminine style. Is there a female icon and role model who inspired you? If so, how?

There are so many, each inspiring in their own way. Among them is Hella Jongerius, a Dutch designer who for years has focused her work and research on textiles. Her design is the fruit of a combination of opposites; for example, new technologies and handmade objects, industrial manufacturing and craftsmanship, tradition and modernity. I find her exploration of color and sustainability very inspiring: she has remained true to her practice despite having worked for years in the product design sector, without ever forgoing research.

The Nebula Collection arises from mixing art and design, matter and voids, to reveal objects with a glamorous and eccentric character. Tell us about the rationale and inspiration that led you to design this collection.

Nebula’s aesthetic concept refers in part to ‘70s psychedelia: the visual imagery characteristic of this historical period creates a striking common thread connected to the personal reflections that brought about the project. However, this collection of bongs emerges more from a reflection on daily lifestyles.

Basically, I realized that there was a market gap: I wanted to create an aesthetically appealing object that people wouldn’t hide in a drawer for fear of the stigma but rather put on display for its decorative value.

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The city of Milan is your home and the backdrop of your many successes. How would you define this city in three words and why?

Cultured, busy, and changeable. Over the last decade, Milan has proved capable of rolling up its sleeves and becoming a city as good as any other European capital; however, this has led the Milanese to live life frantically, not knowing when to stop and pause.

Innovative shapes and bold color choices are two fundamental components of your unmistakable style. In addition to aesthetics, artisan production is also an essential element for you, why?

Artisan production is - possibly - even more important than the final aesthetic in my work. The process that leads to the creation and appreciation of an object has been long-forgotten, however for me that's right where the value of a product lies.

It is for this reason that I try to make the most of sustainable production, which does not only mean creating unique pieces but also producing on-demand. In this way, large-scale production is avoided and the human component of manufacturing is brought back to the fore: when you buy a piece from one of my collections, you know that you will have to wait to receive it because there is a craftsman who is making it just for you. I’d like to believe that, in doing so, we can also support artisan techniques that are slowly disappearing.

Tell us the story and the creative process behind the creation of one of your favorite pieces.

Unquestionably, some of my favorite pieces are from my independent productions, an approach that allows me to express my creativity to the fullest. Among these, the collection of Calypso glasses emerges from the need to find a moment of escape and levity – at least mental – during the lockdown: dreaming of drinking from exotic flowers on a tropical beach, even at a time when traveling and entertainment seemed impossible! The idea was to create an ironic mise en place with references to nature and inspirations from Art Nouveau floral forms in a very feminine palette that fades into delicate transparencies.

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