1. Linearity, purity and simplicity of form are your hallmarks, which we find as a constant in all your designs. How did you come to define your style?
I have defined my style over time, refining it naturally and spontaneously, without forcing it. During my career, I have had the good fortune to meet great visionaries, people who are physically in the present but whose minds are already in the future; from these strong personalities I understood that it was fundamental to work on my design identity, to create my alphabet, my style, my codes, which over time would become my signature. I have always worked by subtraction, because I believe that sending clear visual messages is a very powerful thing to do.
2. In fashion, until recently, the distinctive features of various designers were necessarily “smothered” in the brand’s DNA. In design, on the other hand, it is normal for a company to turn to a designer in order to benefit from his or her personal style. As you have worked in both sectors, why do you think there is such a radical difference?
Fashion is a sector similar to design but with completely different dynamics, first and foremost “time”. Design companies prefer designers with different styles, capable of interpreting the company with their own trait: objects with a definite thread between them, capable of creating a collection that will last over time; true design is contemporary yesterday, today and tomorrow. In fashion, on the other hand, we work with collections that capture the phenomena of the moment, to be presented in a short time without the need to “stay”; the designer therefore does not have to deform the identity of the brand but rather make it contemporary.
3. You usually refer to Giulio Cappellini as your mentor. What does that mean exactly? How has your relationship evolved over time? What makes you different?
Giulio Cappellini is my teacher and the one who believed in me. Being good is fundamental, but it is not enough. You need someone who believes in your ideas and gives you the chance to show them: my first pieces were in fact designed for Cappellini. I have a very respectful relationship with Giulio Cappellini and, many years later, I continue to work with him on a daily basis. I think that all young people who aspire to have a glorious career should have one or more points of reference to look up to, so that they always want to improve, constantly questioning themselves. What makes us different? He likes eclectic design, whereas I’m more of a measured, rigorous aesthetic.
4. How do you recognise a real talent? Do you think that the characteristics that define a real talent have changed over time?
It doesn’t take much to recognise a talent, I would say, even if you are not in the industry. A real talent is someone who, without analysing it too much, manages to visually convey a project and reach the public without having to add a single word to explain his thoughts. He is the one who materialises ideas that others cannot even imagine. Today it is certainly more difficult for a young person to emerge, the level has risen a lot. There are a lot of good designers, but you recognise the talented one immediately, as a trailblazer.
5. You have recently started your own brand. When you say “I wanted to be able to express myself without stylistic compromises”, what are you referring to? If you were equally free to express yourself, what would be the 3 pieces of advice you would give to companies (and their managers) to make the most of designers’ work?
I decided to create a collection that bears my name in order to express myself to the utmost, taking my lines to extremes with objects that are completely free of any commercial constraints, not only in the design of the product but also in its communication, a project that is followed entirely at 360 degrees. I like the idea that customers can buy “a Leonardo Talarico”, as if it were a work of art, a painting and a vision of style, iconic objects if taken individually or to create line landscapes when they are combined. As we were saying before, companies mix together products by different designers as a common language; with this project I would like the language to be solely that of rigour, my own. The big suggestion I would give to company managers is not to constrain the creativity of designers according to their personal taste or what they would put in their own homes! In the creative field, everyone often feels entitled to make personal suggestions, with the great risk of distorting a project.
6. Your objects speak an Italian language (I’m thinking of the vase “Pensiero”, the coffee table “Vizio”, the clothes stand “Ombre” or the coffee table “Metodo”), and most of your customers are pioneers of Made in Italy. What does this expression mean to you? How does it differ from the products of other countries?
Made in Italy is a hymn that enhances the business culture, know-how and excellence of Italian companies and their products. Maintaining a level of excellence in a fast-moving world is in fact an important responsibility for a country that has always been home to beauty: continuous innovation is therefore essential. In my own small way, I like the idea of always using incisive Italian names, which identify the thought behind the project and celebrate the Italian spirit, even linguistically. What differentiates Italian workers from those in other countries is the passion and culture with which the project is developed, not limited to the ephemeral production of the product. Other countries, however, have not stood by and watched: there are other very interesting nations and we must therefore always focus on the quality of what we do.
7. What were the most recurrent thoughts during this ‘slow’ period? How did you rearrange them?
The most recurring thought was about the repercussions that the pandemic would have on the furniture sector and what new paths to take considering the projects in progress and their presentations; it was immediately clear that the fairs would be postponed for several months. The first thing I did was to talk to the companies to understand and study together how to deal with this period, making choices: what to do and what not to do, understanding the needs of this new normality as quickly as possible. When this dark period passes, in my opinion, we will take with us new habits in the home, some linked to hygiene, others linked to the new functions of accessories. Think of the return of the coat rack, which was almost forgotten before, or of the fact that the seat in the house, once used only for lunch and dinner, is now also our work chair on which we spend much of the day. From these small insights we can start to imagine new scenarios in furniture design.
8. Are you a solitary designer? Habitual (if so, what are your habits) or do you like to change rituals (in what way)? What are some zero-kilometre activities that make you feel good?
Yes, I am a solitary designer because I believe that an idea with a strong personality can be born individually, thought and conceived by a single person and then later refined and developed with the work team. I am habitual and schematic in my work and for the last ten years my day has started at 4:30 in the morning. My favourite activity that makes me feel good is walking my dog, relaxing and playing.
9. What is one record, by an Italian author, that makes you travel with your mind? A particular song that you love to listen to in your solitude?
I really like the album “Washed Away” by Ludovica D’Angelo aka LULU, a neo soul talent based in New York. Her songs are all interpreted with extreme delicacy! Of the many, my favourite is ‘B. (From Back & Forth) [Reprise]’. When I met LULU, we decided to collaborate together and merge music and design into a project, with my favourite song of hers. The notes of ‘B. (From Back & Forth)’ and her performance are the background to the presentation of the digital exhibition in which I presented the PENSIERO collection in 2020.
10. What is an object in your home that you would never give up? What is the memory associated with it? Can you send us a photo taken by you?
More than an object, I am very attached to an artist’s drawing that I framed and keep with admiration. It is a sketch by the artist Flavio Lucchini, made “on the spur of the moment” for the graphic communication of the Temporay Museum for New Design at Superstudio Più some years ago. His first sketch immediately became the final project and this struck me a lot.