Luca Nichetto is at a crossroads. And as always when standing before the devil of life-changing decisions, it's time for reflection. Nichetto has ten years behind him as a designer on Italian soil, largely for Italian companies, but recently decided to open a second studio in Stockholm, because his long-term partner lives there. "Now that my private life is part in Sweden and part in Italy I think it is quite normal to try and take the positive aspects of both countries and combine the two," says Nichetto, pondering his position.
For years Nichetto has been an obscure name on the design scene but, with an increasing number of international projects, he is moving into the design limelight, partly thanks to his Swedish connection. His Robo chair for Swedish manufacturer Offecct, presented last year, received a lot of press for its ingenious construction. It's a chair in six parts – four legs, one seat and one back rest – interconnected via metal rods, which means it can be assembled and disassembled easily, as well as being transported in a flat pack.
"Before I worked with Offecct I didn't care about what happened after the product was made, but with the Robo chair I had to think about sustainability and ease of transport as part of the design brief. It really opened up a lot of doors in my mind," says Nichetto.
Since graduating from the University Institute of Architecture of Venice in 1999, Nichetto has had a studio in Venice, in the city's regenerated Porto Marghera industrial area. He is originally from Murano, just outside the city, and he has favoured staying in this part of the country over moving to Milan.
credit Fausto Trevisan
"So much of the Italian manufacturing industry is based in the north-eastern part of Italy," says Nichetto. "Foscarini, Casamania, Moroso, they're all here." He has worked with all of these and his geographical location has made it easy to access the industrial expertise that forms in clusters around these manufacturing hubs.
Maybe because of this embarrassment of riches, Nichetto's style is difficult to pin down. On the one hand he makes sinuous vases in Murano glass, on the other bulky stools in concrete. But the Arillo vase for glass manufacturer Venini and the Plinto stool-cum-table for Skitsch have something in common. They are a testament to a designer that sees experimentation with material and production processes as the core of his practice, rather than personal expression or a signature style.
This is where it's easy to see what an influence the access to the local manufacturing knowledge has had on Nichetto's work. "When I design something it's part of my experience, I can't take myself out of that process," he says.
Maybe that is why many of his pieces vaguely resemble things that are familiar from everyday life, such as his Pipe lamp for Established & Sons, which looks like the bend in a drainpipe. Or the Troag light for Foscarini which borrows its shape from a trough. It's simple but effective, a kind of found aesthetic – a ready-made. "I try to make functional things that also have emotion," he says.
Luca Nichetto is showing new products at Foscarini, Established & Sons and Superstudio during the Milan Furniture Fair. See our Milan guide for details.
credit Peter Guenzel