MOHD interviews: Federico Peri lays bare the materials

24 March 2021

Federico Peri

The designer likes to experiment with materials while respecting their functional value and their aesthetics.

In the year in which the Milanese stage of the Salone del Mobile failed, the limelight is all for him, because if there is a designer who has managed to get noticed with elegance and determination, it is Federico Peri. In the last few years he has silently built a network of solid collaborations with important companies similar to him for concreteness, aesthetic vision and culture of research on materials. At the same time Peri continued to devote himself to his interior design work but if in the interiors he is inclined to indulge the personality of those who will live there, it is in the design that he can remain true to himself and express himself 100%. On the cover image by Stefan Giftthaler.

How was the Fontanella lamp born? 

Fontanella was born in a not casual but certainly spontaneous way. I was rearranging some swatches in the studio’s material library and I found a glass color swatch, sort of glass, and at the same time I also found a brass cylinder. I put them together and noticed that they were fine, from here I started working on them and making sketches and I immediately thought I saw a gush of water in them. The name Fontanella is due precisely to this image and since it was a work for FontanaArte it seemed even more relevant to me. 

Fontanella lamp by FontanaArte

One of your latest projects for Baxter is the Button applique, how did the collaboration with the company and in particular this project born? 

The collaboration with Baxter began in 2017 when they noticed some of my works at an event organized by Elle Decor. After this meeting we started collaborating and I found myself very well because Baxter is a reality that continuously researches materials and questions itself. It’s a company but it also acts like a gallery, which I appreciate because I have the experience of the Nilufar gallery in Milan in my DNA. Another aspect that I appreciate about Baxter is the use of materials: it is a company devoted to the use of leather, a material that I love very much because over time it shows itself for what it is and becomes even more beautiful. Button was born from the desire to create something simple from a formal point of view but that had a research on materials behind it: brass is beautiful but also functional to contain the light source and the striped glass creates different shades of light depending on point of view. 

Button lamp by Baxter

The Incisioni per Purho collection is made up of various elements sharing a distinctive feature: the grooves, which tell the story of the craftsmanship of these glasses. How much do you participate in the production process in cases like this? 

In projects with glass, in particular, the ideation goes hand in hand with the realization, and compared to other materials, glass allows you to make your instinct work more. The collection, compared to how I originally conceived it, has changed a lot during construction and participating in the production process has made me understand how important the work of the engraver is – in addition to that of the blower, which is perhaps more talked about. It is a job that requires the utmost attention because the slightest mistake can make you throw all the work away. So, to answer the question, in this case the participation in the production process was constant. 

Linae vases by Puro

In your production you can observe a certain variety of materials and the combination of different materials and also of different “temperatures” such as marble and leather for example. What do you start from when choosing materials and combinations of materials? 

The contamination of materials is a theme that I have always appreciated, even in interior design. The only rule I try to follow is to prefer materials that are authentic and avoid synthetic materials that simulate reality. In the combinations I like the contrast between the different textures, the more rigid and the more malleable, and then it always depends on the project. For example, in 2017 I designed the Galerie floor lamp and wall lamp for FontanaArte in which the base was made of marble to ensure a low center of gravity and a certain stability, the stem is made of metal for rigidity and thermal resistance, the glass to diffuse light and also as a historical reference to FontanaArte and then the leather handle to hold the lantern and play a role in the tactile interaction with the object. I then discovered that it was the first time that FontanaArte put into production a lamp made of four different materials. Even in that case, however, the choice of materials was linked to both an aesthetic criterion and function.

Galerie lamp by FontanaArte

Ho poi scoperto che era la prima volta che FontanaArte metteva in produzione una lampada fatta in quattro materiali diversi. Anche in quel caso, comunque, la scelta dei materiali era legata sia a un criterio estetico che alla funzione.

In lighting we are experimenting a lot with rechargeable lamps, can you help us understand what are the possibilities of using this type of light?

Initially, I also asked myself questions about the real use of rechargeable lamps. The idea of carrying the lamp around is useful, for example to be independent from the electrical points and therefore have maximum flexibility and then also to connect inside and outside. Rechargeable lamps can be taken outside, where the lighting is often not well studied, too poor or too strong and therefore being able to integrate it is an interesting possibility. From the design point of view, however, this type of lamp still has two constraints: that of size – to be portable it cannot exceed a certain extent – and that of the battery which at the moment still occupies a certain space but which we will certainly see decrease in the coming years.

Baxter Belt
Baxter Button
Baxter Rail
Baxter T Chair
FontanaArte Galerie
FontanaArte Fontanella
Baxter Marilyn
Purho Linae

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