Alessandro Poli: the origins of Servomuto between graphics and fashion

7 September 2023

Alessandro Poli - Ph@Guido Barbagelata

A typical presence in the homes of the past, the fabric lampshade had sunk into oblivion, also putting a precious artisan tradition at risk. And it is above all thanks to Alessandro Poli and his studio Servomuto that in recent years this functional and decorative element has once again taken center stage in interior lighting and decorative design. We needed a discordant voice, an “out of the box” thought to reinterpret the lampshade, it is no coincidence that Poli has a background in graphics and fashion. And precisely from his research on fabric, as he himself says, the idea was born of recovering the artisan tradition of the production of lampshades and evolving it both independently and through collaboration with prestigious brands, primarily Contardi.

calypso by contardi

What is your education and how did you come up with the idea of Servomuto?

I graduated from the IED in Milan in graphic design, graphics and fashion have been my worlds especially when it came to independent projects. I liked starting from an idea, a concept and taking the opportunity to communicate. For example, I did it with my line of T-Shirts and moving from fashion to design was a natural step. Thus, Servomuto was born in 2010, linking research on fabrics, style, artisan and sartorial manufacturing traditions to the world of lighting.

Arcipelago so contardi

Why did you choose the name Servomuto?

The Servomuto (Italian for valet stand) is an element that has always been present in the homes of all Italian grandparents and which therefore accompanied the childhood and adolescence of many of my generation. It is an object that comes from the past and which has its own precise use, but which over the years has ended up somewhat forgotten. Just as it was for the fabric lampshades which have only been back in fashion for a few years, but which had been supplanted by spotlights and technical lights for a long time. The word Servomuto has different meanings in Italian depending on whether it is written in full or separately, and playing on this double meaning, I thought of representing the brand logo graphically with a sadomasochistic mask without a mouth. A strong symbol that differs so much from the delicacy of the classic fabric lampshade, a logo that could be more linked to an independent fashion label rather than to the world of design. Once again, these two worlds have found a way to coexist. The contrast amused me, and it worked because during the first Fuorisalone of 2010 the logo was stolen from the stand: a sign that people liked it.

calypso floor contardi

When you work on a new project what are your priorities?

There are several thoughts. Create a product that can respond to some stylistic and aesthetic needs in which I recognize myself and then that are also easy to understand and recognize for the end customer. Creating timeless objects, free from fashions and seasons and which always have a strong “Servomuto” character. Objects that do not belong to a precise period, and which for this reason are not boring and are not slaves to the taste of fashions. Furthermore, in Servomuto’s DNA, a priority is that everything is made in Italy, therefore the thought is always aimed at the resources and manpower that I can use to preserve Made in Italy.

calypso so xl contardi

Your lamps have an innovative but also always evocative and atmospheric style: how do you reconcile these two aspects?

Regarding the importance of the concept of Timeless, the objective that I always have clear is to create iconic objects, which immediately refer to tradition, which restore a sense of belonging and intimacy, objects which, although innovative, always belong a little to the collective imagination and for this reason they are “welcoming”.

In terms of decoration and style, is there a particular era that fascinates you right now?

There are several styles that I appreciate and with which I always try to create interesting mashups: I like the rigor of the 30s but also the irony of 80s pop, the freedom of the 60s and the minimal push of the ‘ 90. What drives me to approach a new project is always the desire to experiment with a fusion of different aspects following the inspiration of the moment and trying to pursue a vision.

Contardi Arcipelago TA Table Lamp
Contardi Arcipelago TA Table Lamp
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Contardi Calypso Floor Lamp
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Contardi Calypso So Suspension Lamp
Contardi Calypso So Suspension Lamp
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