About Artemest

Design Talent: Pietro Russo

Passionate and exuberant, Pietro Russo’s design approach is focused on finding the perfect balance between imagination and reality. Meet the designer and visit his Milan-based atelier to explore every corner of his holistic vision.

​A long journey through different arts and places has brought ​Pietro Russo to the design industry, in a unique way and with a poetic yet forward-looking style. His passion for design has developed over the years after his painting and scenography studies. This winding path enabled him to pursue a different understanding of living spaces, loading them with new meanings, rich in allusions with a clear vision of design thinking. His creative approach is focused on traditional processes, carried out with meticulous manufacturing procedures.

His personal and professional life blend together, taking him from his homeland - Ostuni in southern Italy – to Florence, Berlin and Milan where, after eight years spent working with Piero Lissoni, he set up his own design studio. Meet Pietro Russo and discover more about the artistic vision behind his one-of-a-kind objects and interiors.

Over the course of your career, you’ve been referred to as "Homo Faber of design" for your ability to marry an instinctive, quasi-imaginative approach with a sleek and clean execution. Tell us about one of your projects where this transformation is most evident.

I believe that my design approach crystallized particularly clearly in the planning of my old studio in Viale Romagna: that is when these two realities, which I had been interested in for some time, harmoniously merged together.

At the time, I was constantly enthralled by the aesthetics of space satellites and large telescopes used to observe the cosmos. In fact, I found that almost unintentional aesthetic - determined by function and technology - so fascinating, and it had seduced me so much that I began to design a series of lamps dedicated to space, exploration, and planets.

During the same period, my thoughts were also completely taken by another line of research into the colonial period. This period was a great source of inspiration, with all its nuances in the arts, from painting to architecture, and the making of everyday objects.

Two very different cultures, perhaps opposite, united only by a yearning for conquest, which come together and give life to a new style that I capture in a sometimes bizarre yet elegant blend. This is how I have combined aerospatial and colonial aesthetics in my studio, creating a new world from another planet in a retro-futuristic style.

Your work is divided into two main complementary activities: interior design and furniture accessory design. Notwithstanding their differences, is there something in your creative process that unites these two fields?

I have always thought about objects strictly tied to the space in which they are placed, to the extent that I find it hard to separate these two aspects, which converge in my personal vision. My first approach to interior design was in response to a need, namely, to design furniture for my home, and I wanted these pieces to interact with that specific interior. At the time, I was a student living in a rented house, nonetheless, I have always renovated and furnished every room following this principle of harmony and union between environment and furniture.

Pietro Russo Design was born in 2010: your atelier where you produce objects with an iconic and inimitable style alongside a team of artisans and designers. The Lunar lamps represent an example of your stylistic and creative approach to materials. How were they conceived?

The Lunar collection stems from my passion for astrophysics and my desire to conceive reality also beyond the limits of everyday life. The Moon is our satellite - the closest and most visible - the one we are most connected to because of its symbolism and significance… Just think of all the stories about the Moon. When flooded with light, onyx seems to evoke that magical, galactic world, radiating a shimmer similar to that with which our satellite seduces us every night and in every situation. So, I decided to bring this magic into the house with a small Lunar lamp.

Throughout your life, you’ve had the opportunity to travel extensively, not only in Italy - from your birthplace Apulia to Florence - but also to Berlin and recently Milan. Is there a place you are most attached to and why?

I’m the type of person who embraces change, and each change coincided with a rebirth, which in turn was linked to my moving. In every city, I had this feeling as if I had been born there: I felt Florentine in Florence, Berliner in Berlin, and today I feel Milanese in Milan. Berlin is the city that, more than any other, has completely shifted my cultural axis and my vision of the world, yet, at the same time, has made me appreciate Italy and its classicism even more, which was initially the reason for my leaving.

Over the years, your professional journey has been marked by several collaborations. Which one do you remember most fondly and why?

Collaborations with companies are always a great challenge and an opportunity for growth. I’m especially passionate about the genesis of Libelle, the bookcase commissioned by Baxter just a few weeks before the Salone del Mobile. I was truly moved the first time I saw it.

Rooted in Japanese culture, the Wabi-Sabi philosophy is based on accepting the transience and imperfection of existence. How has this concept influenced your work?

The words Wabi and Sabi convey two visions that Western culture has merged together and, in order to understand them, we need to grasp a concept that is linked more to our irrational rather than rational side. I have always been captivated by these two concepts, even before I discovered this aspect of Japanese culture: it’s almost as if I had an inborn propensity. Similarly, craftsmanship already embraces this process linked to a perfect imperfection rooted in transience.

In a field that must marry tradition with innovation and technological processes, how do you create continuity in the world of craftsmanship?

Today, there is an increasing need to connect production with technology in order to execute some features. Unfortunately, the technological processes have removed much of the added value derived from the manual skills of artisan savoir-faire, thereby giving the finished product a perfect and cold appearance. On the contrary, the role of craftsmanship must be, as in the past, that of adding a warm aesthetic and unique touch to the piece - pràxis and téchnē, art and skill - whereas technology should only support this process, so that it becomes ever