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Elena Manferdini Mines Italian Design in New SCI-Arc Channel Series

SCI-Arc Channel presents an in-depth look at the collaborations between Italian designers, architects, and industrial designers Giulio Cappelini, Gabriele Chiave of Marcel Wanders Studio, and Alberto Alessi. The conversations in this series, hosted by Graduate Programs Chair and principal and owner of Atelier Manferdini Elena Manferdini, discuss historical references, material research, and digital technology in architecture; the role of community and collaboration in the creative process; and the future of design as a more ethical and sustainable practice.

two windows with Gabriel Chiave and Elena Manferdini
Gabriel Chiave and Elena Manferdini

Since the 1950s, Italy has played a leading role in the world of industrial design not only in terms of creativity in the design process, but also in the production methodologies, earning the trust of what “Made in Italy” still means nowadays. Italy is currently not only leader in the design and manufacturing of those objects, but moreover in the making of the most contemporary tools, objects, and machinery necessary to the contemporary production.

In Italy, the design process is not done by designers only but also by manufacturers. For decades, Alberto Alessi [founder and director of Alessi] and Giulio Cappellini [founder and director of Italian interior design company Cappellini] had the energy and curiosity to experiment alongside with designers like Gabriele Chiave, art director of Marcel Wanders. During these three interviews, viewers are given the opportunity to hear from the leaders of these manufacturing plants and design firms, engage with the idea of craft at artisanal and industrial scale, as well as learn about examples of family-owned businesses—grown out of artisanal expertise into multinational corporations.

“I think SCI-Arc has always been a laboratory of architectural thinking that could extend beyond the building scale, looking at design as a skill one could apply to different fields and different scales,” Manferdini says of the impetus of the series for SCI-Arc Channel. “[With this series] I wanted to make a connection between SCI-Arc and these individuals who have made that bridge between different disciplines and scale a way of living; to show that these people also demonstrate an act of creativity along with the architect. Truly, from interiors, to buildings, to object design, they're not specializing in one thing only, but in narratives to create their own enchanted world.”

Read the descriptions of SCI-Arc Channel’s films on Alberto Alessi, Giulio Cappellini, and Gabriele Chiave below and view them here.

Giulio Cappellini: Art Director, Cappellini

An in-depth look at the creative process that drives major designer furniture and Italian interior design company Cappellini, with Giulio Cappellini [Art Director, Cappellini] and Elena Manferdini [Principal, Atelier Manferdini/SCI-Arc Graduate Programs Chair]. Manferdini and Cappellini discuss some of the canonical products produced by Cappellini, the design workflow, and material research at Cappellini. Giulio Cappellini reflects on the role of collaboration in the creative process and the design of product ‘landscapes’ for future ways of living.

two colorful chairs
Cappellini Studio, film still

Trained as an architect in Milan, Giulio Cappellini is an emblematic figure in the international design panorama. Animated by an indomitable spirit and the curiosity of someone who wants to renew himself continuously, Cappellini dedicates himself to design by offering his personal revision of contemporary design, both for the brand that bears his name, and as art director for other important brands in the field. Through his most ambitious project, his company, Cappellini has become a bona fide trendsetter, such that he has become universally recognized as a talent scout for young professionals. Numerous names have been launched through collaborations with his brand: Jasper Morrison, Marc Newson, Marcel Wanders, the Bouroullec and Nendo brothers, just to name a few. His lectures at international design schools are also very popular, at institutions such as Istituto Marangoni, for which he is also art director, and other establishments around the world where he is invited as a visiting professor. Cappellini’s work covers a vast array of furnishing elements. Among the most loved are the Mill sofa, inspired by the contemporary needs of millennials, the iconic Bong and Gong tables, the Break table series and the cabinet units in the Luxor range.

group of men smiling holding sculptures
Alessi family

Alessi: Where Architects Design Objects

A behind-the-scenes view of the collaborations between designers, architects, industrial designers and Alessi, one of the leading internationally renowned Italian design factories. Alberto Alessi [President of Alessi SpA/Head of Marketing Strategy, Communications and Design Management] and Elena Manferdini [Principal, Atelier Manferdini/SCI-Arc Graduate Programs Chair] discuss some of the canonical products produced by Alessi. Alberto Alessi shares his thoughts on the role of collaboration as defining a major international company and reflects on the future of design and production for Alessi.

Gabriele Chiave: Marcel Wanders Studio

An exposition of the creative process of Marcel Wanders studio with Gabriele Chiave [Creative Director, Marcel Wanders] and Elena Manferdini [Principal, Atelier Manferdini/SCI-Arc Graduate Programs Chair]. Manferdini and Chiave discuss the role of historical references, material research, and digital technology in the studio’s work. Chiave reflects on the role of community in the creative process and the future of design as a more ethical and sustainable practice.

hands gloves weaving
Marcel Wanders Studio, film still

Creative director Gabriele Chiave brings a wealth of diverse professional and personal experience to Marcel Wanders. Having grown up and lived in several places around the world—from Africa to South America to Europe—Chiave approaches design with a different perspective. This has created in him a passion to bring open-mindedness into what he creates. Before arriving at Marcel Wanders studio, Chiave studied in Milan at Italian design schools that are rooted in industrial design heritage from the 1960s. He worked at Marc Saddler Studio where he immersed himself in the functionality of Italian design. These skillsets have contributed to shape his vision of design, which has further expanded by working closely with Marcel Wanders, from whom he learned a mentality that is strongly rooted in humanism, in an understanding of design as art and celebration of craftsmanship of past ages. Chiave is greatly inspired by art, his love of photography and fashion which he brings to the role of creative director leading our design teams to design beautiful things that uplift the human spirit.