02.2018: Design Talking: Tommaso Caldera and its collaboration with Chairs & More

CLAUDIA OVAN: From your collaboration with Chairs & More, Mousse was born, an elegant armchair with an enveloping design, which won the second Young&Design Award 2017 at the last Salone del Mobile in Milan.
How did the idea for this product develop?
TOMMASO CALDERA: The product was born from a very precise brief received from the company, the request was for an armchair with upholstered seat for contract environments. The intention was to obtain a compact seat that could appear welcoming in terms of lines and materials. For this reason we chose wood for the structure and lines that “chase themselves” for the upper part, where the surfaces are rounded. To this is added the possibility of having a different fabric for the inside and the outside of the upholstery, for customization and diversification in contract environments.

CO: How did your passion for design come about?

TC: It comes from a passion first of all for objects, for that strange and a little magical relationship that is established with them. Something happens when we tie ourselves to the things that surround us, whether it is a clock, a pen or a couch. Drawing objects to which everyone can give a personal meaning and make them “companions” for life is the reason why I do this job.

CO: What is your main source of inspiration?

TC: The inspiration always comes from the company I work for and from the specific project that I’m starting, I can’t talk about inspiration, but more about the result of a metabolization of the project I’m facing at that time. There is a whole initial phase, very slow, of reflection and study, a sort of aerial reconnaissance on everything that is around the project that accelerates towards the end and collapse (with positive meaning) towards the final result, which however is not other than the starting point to start developing everything together with the customer.

CO: Which design objects do you have around during the

day, in your studio and at home?

TC: I have a mix of anonymous and other more well-known objects, even though they are not many in the whole, I do not have much space yet and in general I am not a collector. I get hit by something and I have to take it home, without really thinking about it when it happens. I work on a Tipton of Barber & Osgerby, I eat on a Chair One of Grcic, I read the time on a Longines of the 60s, I read with a MayDay of Grcic, I write with a Muji pen, I drink from a bottle found in a flea market.

CO: In your opinion, what is the function of design?

TC: That of shaping the world in which we live, in different ways and forms.

CO: How much do you think you are free to design today? Are there any sectors or contexts that allow this more?
TC: If you accept the fact that design is not just sensational, you can draw anything. Everything is designed, there is a language to be updated in every type of product, small steps to be taken in all directions. When designers say they are not free it is because they first force themselves into channels and little permeable contexts.

CO: Is it possible to make design democratic? If so, how?

TC: Starting from the fact that there is a lot of confusion about what is meant today for democratic products, one should always make “fair” projects and not confuse design with craftsmanship and art. This would be the first step to start redefining the term of democracy when it comes to product design. But it is a subject that deals too superficially and too confusingly.

CO: What do you see in the near future of your business?

TC: In parallel with the product I am trying to develop art direction work. I like to add to the design of objects also everything that it goes around and try to bring out the personality of a company working on images, catalogs, stands and the story of collections. Actually, companies are like people, who sometimes just need to focus.