The designer at her studio in Milan. (Photo Silvia Rivoltella)
Nest, a pop-up bar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan. Loïe chairs from Gebrüder Thonet Vienna and fabric from Kvadrat/Raf Simons. Taiki armchair in foreground from Lema. Ropu coffee table from Potocco. Tellina centrepiece from Paola C. Satin tables in background from Mingardo. All designed by Chiara Andreatti.
Coquille is a collection of centrepieces, fruit stands and vases by Andreatti for Paola C.
Taiki, an armchair by Andreatti for Lema. (Photo Thomas Pagani)

An interview with Chiara Andreatti

Chiara Andreatti is the type of creative professional who lets their work speak for itself, rather than using words. She hails from the Veneto region, but has lived in Milan for years. Her formative years in design were spent at studios including Raffaella Mangiarotti, Renato Montagner and Lissoni Associati, where she worked for over ten years. She has known many manufacturers – Thonet, cc-tapis, Ichendorf, Mingardo, Karpeta, Botteganove and Pretziada. Over a hot cup of tea in Milan, we talked about social media, travel, art and of course design.

You work as a designer and art director. How do these different jobs coexist in the workflow?
I try to juggle craft projects with industrial ones. I enjoy spending my energy on projects taking place within the artistic universe, like Pretziada with its focus on the genius loci of Sardinia, but I also love the pure craftsmanship of Botteganove. Art direction is an important part of my job and perhaps the most enjoyable, because it gives me a 360-degree view of things. When synergy with the company kicks in, I get the opportunity to give it new strength, always bearing in mind its historic achievements and available resources, technical as well as financial.

Regarding design projects, how do you stimulate your creativity?
With art, especially painting, as well as architecture, travel, nature and films. I’ll often watch a movie and let myself be inspired by the interior design of a room in a scene. I do a lot of photographic research. I have a substantial archive that I try to keep in order, but the folder labelled “mix” invariably ends up containing a lot of everything. Seriously, I have a good photographic memory and when I approach a new project, I know what to draw on. I combine different kinds of imagery to create something new. I like hybridising. I think I have an instinctive approach. Rather than using words, I try to let my work speak for itself.

In Milan, you recently designed Nest, a pop-up bar in the Sala Camino at the Four Seasons Hotel, a lounge for enjoying quality drinks.
Nest grew out of a collaboration with the creative agency Mr. Lawrence. It was the first time I designed an interior. I furnished the hotel lounge, renewing it creatively by involving the companies I had worked with over the years, for instance Thonet and Lema. I tried to tone down an interior filled with an almost liturgical atmosphere. It was a challenge to work on a large scale in a historic space.

Are social networks and Instagram in particular a source of inspiration?
In terms of research, certainly. They offer the opportunity to view a lot of subjects and spheres. Instagram is a wonderful treasure chest of creativity – fashion, art, photography and innovation. On the other hand, this showcase inevitably leads to the uniformity of contents. It’s like a blender mushing all different skills together.

How do you think it’s influencing contemporary design?
I notice a form of bulimia, a tendency to constantly try to justify what you do and who you are. A solid and skilful designer who stays behind the scenes is likely to be noticed much less than a handy storyteller who is clever at working the wires of the social networks but is less gifted when it comes to design. Credibility is clouded. What is shown on the social networks doesn’t always match reality.

Is there a way to avoid getting caught up in passing trends?
You need to have your own style, a vision, but above all know how to judge clearly what you have in front of your nose. Having a critical spirit is essential to avoid the risk of slipping into trends that burn out in one month. I prefer a project that’s not understood immediately but gains recognition over time because it’s valid.

Durability is probably a challenge to design. Today there’s a lot of talk about sustainability inside and outside companies. It was the hot topic of 2019 and is staying with us in 2020. What is your take on sustainable design?
We have to admit that the design sector pollutes. Businesses find themselves in the line of fire, so we need to rethink materials and production methods. We should stop for a moment and reflect more broadly on the concept of time, focus on our environmental impact and discover new ways of doing design. This is why I like exploring craft projects where know-how is handed down from generation to generation. They embody an opportunity to rediscover materials such as fire-resistant ceramics, clay and straw and incorporate them into the design process.


Article published on the April/May issue of ICON DESIGN.