Italian American Giorgio Borruso is known for his daring experiments with shape and plastics. He made "flowing" walls and rubber floors for the Fornarina office. He received the Top Retail Design Awards for the design of Fila in New York. In the United States, he is called the most influential person in the design world. His creations can be described as experimental, sculptural, streamlined, dynamic, surreal, phantasmagoric and organic. He often uses unusual combinations of materials, saying that the retail space is designed to evoke inspiration, intuition and creativity, primarily among store customers. An architect and theater artist, he considers shops to be a theater, and shopping centers a social arena. In 2010, he designed the Carlo Pazolini store in Milan and answered SR's most important questions about time, creativity and himself.
- What do you need to start a project? Enthusiasm of the person who offers you to design his store? His character? An opportunity to gain new experiences? Realize yourself from some new side?
- It's a combination of all the elements. I love retail design because it is the type of architecture that connects you to a large audience. It was a revelation for me how deep intuition reaches when you just observe people in shopping centers, how they move, how they show themselves, as they say - all this helps to interpret their dreams.
- What is inspiration? Is this a way to go beyond reality? Is it the power and strength of brickwork or the lightness of a feather? Is it like fire, water, air or earth?
- Inspiration is a complex process in which all elements are intertwined. For inspiration, I always have to go beyond consciousness, and beyond these limits the process of layering different ideas begins, this is an amazing, almost magical process of transformation, and I can never associate inspiration with any one of the sources.
- What experience did you get working with Carlo Pazolini?
- In retail, the most important thing is brand communication with the audience and, in terms of architecture, establishing a connection with the context. Making a project for Carlo Pazolini, I got the opportunity to actively interact with the urban environment of Milan - through a multitude of shop windows the store turns directly to the streets, the interior enters into dialogue with the exterior. This is a very lively, dynamic environment.
- In a consumer society, all communications are concentrated in shopping centers. Have you thought about decorating not only individual stores, but also shopping centers?
- We work with projects of any scale - from stairs to a shopping center. This process is similar to modeling in 3D space. The environment itself intuitively helps direct space of any size in the right direction. Reasonable use of materials, ample opportunities for interaction with the entire audience and with an individual, the ability to generate effective solutions - these are all different parts of one complex task of creating a comfortable space.
Shopping centers are of great social importance. People spend a lot of time in them - much more than in museums. Shopping centers are becoming a new social arena. For the store owner, developer and retail designer, this means a huge responsibility. We are changing the environment that affects millions of people. This means that the store ceases to be a place for financial transactions, its task is to create a creative communication environment.
- Architecture is something that changes nature. But you strive for harmony. How do you combine these conflicting directions?
- As an architect, I strive to experiment. I challenge the habitual view of the world and the habitual understanding of space, I want to spark curiosity about exploring the environment and interacting with it.
Since time immemorial, mankind has chosen places for settlements and built dwellings, following natural lines. We need to remember this. In keeping with our true nature, we should not wrap ourselves in containers. Our body suffocates in an airtight and static environment, human communication is always a collection of complex interactions, constantly changing, fluid. In trading spaces, as I imagine it, there should be no limit to the number of ways that we can move through space and time, we should get our personal individual experience here.
- Architecture is the art of space, but not time. What does time mean to you? Is it a resource, capital, flow, something important or unimportant?
- I perceive architecture as something in motion. It is a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. This is the space in which the experience that you get becomes the journey - the experience of changing your perception. As an architect working with retail spaces, I feel the pressure of the times especially strongly. This is serious training to remain perceptive and accurate. This requires expressive ideas and decisions that must be made quickly. Speed is very important. How to turn an idea into reality without having the luxury of stopping and thinking about solutions, because there is simply no way to redo it. This is the art of an architect who creates commercial projects. This kind of work requires high self-discipline.
Like a high-speed rally - the slightest mistake throws you out of the way. You don't have time to get back on track and you are losing the race.
- Would you like to receive the Pritzker Prize?
- In our profession, an award is not a compliment or a prize from the design community (we have already received over 100 international prizes). The greatest value is in seeing something take shape. See a sketch of a constructed building, a three-dimensional material object given to us in tangible sensations. Everything else that's included is nice, but it's not the driver that drives creativity.
- What client would you never work with?
“The one that doesn't give you a single chance.
- What gives you the greatest pleasure?
- Looking at my 18 month old son exploring the world.
- What traits of your character do you consider defining?
- Curiosity. Curiosity can be called a perpetual motion machine of evolution. Listening to my curiosity, I extract from the outside world everything that can acquire a new form in my imagination, and these new forms add more and more rings to the chain of my fantasy. Smart clients unravel the tangle of my fantasies, choosing the best for themselves.
- What era would you like to live in? And what kind of buildings to build?
- I like living in the present. I like the creation of a project - from the birth of an idea to implementation, regardless of what kind of project it is: shoes, a building, a whole city district, a script for a film - I am fascinated by the process itself.
- Some architects create designs for shoes too. Would you like to try yourself in a new role?
- Shoes are a complex design object. They need aesthetic value and impeccable performance, they must sit well on the leg and harmoniously support the whole body. This is definitely a big challenge and I love challenging tasks. This is something that I am ready to do in the future. It surprises me if a designer says she specializes in any area. I do not believe in that. If you are a good designer, you cannot have a specialization; on the contrary, you need to be open to new ideas. You need to look at the world with wide eyes.
- You are a cosmopolitan in your lifestyle, you can easily change cities and countries. Do Human Attachments Remain?
- Yes, absolutely. Aside from cultural and linguistic differences, at a deep subconscious level, we all have something in common, and we all feel it.
Today we can find the same products in the USA, South America, Europe, Asia. They are offered to us at the same time, they are similar to each other and are absolutely equivalent. All production is now concentrated in the same places. You can differ from competitors only due to the impressions that customers receive in your store. Retailers need to create a vibrant and exciting story around their products.
After a good movie, impressions remain for a long time - even after you have already left the cinema. So it is here - a beautiful story makes you different from others.
- Do you have small weaknesses?
- I love motorcycles. I'm also almost obsessive about detail. I can drive you crazy with my pickiness - you can ask anyone who works with me about this.
- What is more important for you - to be, to become or to have?
- To be.
Over the past few years, Giorgio Borruzo has received over 100 architectural awards. Among them were such prestigious as:
- Museum Award Red Dot: Product Design Award (Germany, 2008, 2007)
- American Architecture Awards (2007)
- Best Interior Design (2007)
- GOOD DESIGN Award (2007, 2006, 2005)
- Store of the Year (2006), according to NASFM magazine
- Designer of the Year (2005), according to DDI magazine
- Store of the Year (2004, 2005, 2006), according to the Institute of Store Planners
- Nominee for the World Technology Awards for Innovator in Design
For your information: Giorgio Borruso was born in 1968 in Italy, studied architecture at the Polytechnic University of Palermo. He was engaged in architectural and industrial design in Italy, Spain and Germany. After moving to the USA, he opened his own firm Giorgio Borruso Design, which is now known for its innovative works. In 2000, his office moved to Los Angeles, and his order book was expanded with contracts with Fila, Snaidero, Fornarina and Paul Frank. For the first time he attracted the attention of the world community in 2001, having decorated the Miss Sixty showroom. His works have been exhibited at the Museum of Architecture and Design in Chicago (USA) and at the Red Dot Museum in Essen (Germany). Giorgio Borruso is now a member of the board of trustees of DDI and NASFM magazines and a jury for design and advertising competitions. He is a frequent visitor to universities: innovation, design and architectural theory are his favorite topics.
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