Coffee with Lombrello: an interview with Clara Bona

Testo di Tiziana D'Amico

A coffee and a chat with Clara Bona, Milanese architect, furniture and design writer and founder of Studio98. An interesting excursus starting from her training up to her experience as a designer and her relationship with customers. ass = "p1">

In her renovation, restyling and interior projects, Clara Bona never seems to lose sight of the place where she works and the client she works for, as she is convinced that every house must reflect the context in which it is located and the personality of those who live there. A vision that leads her to almost always establish deep relationships with her customers, of friendship rather than just work. Let's leave the talking for her!

We know you through your social networks, your projects and your work, but we would still like you to tell us about yourself and your path. < / strong>

I started as an architect. I studied architecture, therefore a very traditional path compared to what I did after , that is, an architecture and interior design studio. I have always combined the desire to write with architecture and therefore from the beginning I did both and became a freelance journalist, always collaborating with magazines. Another thing I did which, in my opinion, was useful, was graphics school . At the time when I did it, the computer was not yet used, so apparently it may seem that it was all a bit useless because we were drawing, making all the letters etc ... but in my view it was useful to acquire a setting about everything I did.

From the website of "Studio 98", the studio you founded in 1998, we read: " The house is also a shell, but it is mainly made by the people who live in it ”. We can only share. In your experience, what implications does this concept have in the design process? And what do you practically translate this mantra into?

So, in the process of designing a house it counts a lot because practically you always have to turn to whoever will live in that house, you always have to be very careful to try to interpret his taste and what his desires are, but try to direct him in the right way, in what you also think is right for that house. And this is not always an easy thing, despite the fact that a person chooses to come to you as an architect - so you imagine he likes your genre, your taste and what you propose - in practice, he always has his own ideas that are also difficult to address. But this is, more or less, the job you are trying to do.

The architect must have many qualities, but he cannot lack a pinch of empathy. How do you set up the relationship with your customers?

You are right, in the sense that it is a relationship very intimate, and sometimes very long. Maybe it takes only a few months to renovate a house, while at other times it takes years and above all it never ends, so it's a relationship that goes on over time . Therefore it takes a lot of empathy. You have to feel good, you have to try to get right into the soul of the person in front of you. And I must say that I am lucky because I have been making houses for more than thirty years and in almost all those I have done with the owners we have become friends, we continue to hang out. Then obviously in thirty years there have also been negative cases, but overall we have always managed to develop a relationship that has also turned into a friendship. Here, another thing that happened to me is to make a lot of houses for friends, something that many architects do not like because it can lead you to argue ... and even this is not said: I have made houses for friends and we have remained very much still friends, so it depends a lot on the relationship you try to establish and on the mutual relationship that exists. Basically if someone chooses you it should already be a somewhat empathic relationship, but just as I said, it is not always the case and therefore many choose even a bit at random. Instead it would be important that the architect was really a person who corresponds a lot to you , not only in terms of taste in the house, but also as a lifestyle, like everything, because then you can really understand and realize the better home for you.

Instagram is now an increasingly important communication channel and you use it very actively and with an almost journalistic approach. How do you think this social network has integrated into the architecture and interior design sector and what role has it assumed and does it have for you?

In my opinion it plays a very important role as you are able to make the work you do very well known. And not just those that are photographed and published. All of us architects every year make some houses that are perhaps more special than others and then they are photographed in photo shoots so as to communicate them more efficiently; instead with Instagram you can take photos, publish them, show construction phases, work in progress and then you can make people understand a lot of your work. So in my opinion it is a very useful means. At first not all architects used it, now I see that they are using it more and more. I started, I enjoyed it and I always did it because I enjoyed it. Then my Instagram is a bit of a mix of architecture and my personal things , travels, other things ... because for me even work is a bit integrated in my whole life, so there is not so much a distinction between them.

How and to what extent a house and its furnishings can reflect the identity of those who live there?

Well, in my opinion a house must always reflect the identity of those who live there. So I like the houses where you see much more of the personality of those who live there rather than the personality of those who designed it. So I like that there are many personal items, even chosen by the landlord, as it means that he has a passion for his home, that he likes it, that he was not just having to do a renovation because it was necessary to change the layout of the spaces or there were objective needs, but instead to just have a love for what surrounds you. So having objects, paintings, lights, personal things that can be beautiful or ugly - some even ugly things can be in homes because they can add a personal touch to you. And in my opinion the most beautiful houses I see around are always the ones like this, the ones where you see the personality of the house. Some houses already have a beautiful personality in them, so you enter a space and say "this is already a beautiful space" and then our work becomes much easier: like you have beautiful doors, beautiful windows, there are many elements that they can help make you a very nice home already. But it also happens that, with these very beautiful elements, an architect comes and takes everything away and turns it into a very banal house. Anyway back to the question, in my opinion you absolutely must see the personality.

At the end of our chat we proposed to Clara to try the experience of personalizing her Lombrello chair, choosing the model, the finish of the structure, the materials and the colors for each single component. So she told us about her Lombrello chair.

Lombrello, through its sessions, continually tries to give the user the possibility to make choices abount materials and colors that are in line with your personality and your home, with the intent of complete customization and freedom. What do you think and above all how would you describe the chair you composed?

I really like the idea because it comes from a simple concept which, however, becomes very complex and has a lot of possibilities and therefore it is a very intelligent project idea, I find, and I like that all materials can be used. Now I have made this combination with the velvet and with the tropicalized structure: I see it as a version a little more elegant than the others with the laminate and with the black structure that are perhaps more suitable for a kitchen. I can see this here well even in a living room instead of an armchair. I find that, for example, both a seat that one can put a little everywhere where a corner is missing, something to set up, it solves a lot of situations and immediately makes it more yours. So I also like the idea that one can do all the combinations: it absolutely reflects my way of working in an interior design project.

So, can you describe your chair in one adjective?

Chic !

The chic chair by Clara Bona