Inside/Out: De Allegri & Fogale, Laetitia De Allegri & Matteo Fogale

The Inside/Out Lecture Series is a series of talks about the built environment. 

The Interior Design programme of The RCA School of Architecture organised a presentation by Laetitia De Allegri & Matteo Fogale of the design studio De Allegri & Fogale. 

De Allegri & Fogale are lead by a design approach that considers honest, premium and unconventional materials as well as functionality and longevity of the products. Laetitia and Matteo’s work celebrates the combination of industrial process and fine craftsmanship, finding inspiration in nature as well as day-to-day environments. They work across disciplines and industries on a variety of projects from industrial products, bespoke commissions, interiors and installations combining deep understanding of materials and making techniques as well as patterns, textures and colours. 

Both Laetitia and Matteo have a background in Industrial Design. Laetitia is from Switzerland and Matteo is from Uruguay. They both worked first at the well-know architecture firm Barber & Osgerby and after that worked separately under their own names. 2 years ago, they decided to do a project together and it worked out so well that after that they started a collaboration. 

For their projects they work at the Black Horse Workshop in East London. They like to make their designs themselves so they can do several tests and really feel the materials and the volumes. Other people from other disciplines are using the workshop as well, which is interesting for them because in that way they can learn from each other's skills and knowledge. 

Their aim was never to be good in one discipline. They are always interested in doing projects within different fields, like interior design, product designretail design, installations, … The red thread through their designs is the love for experimenting with materials. They really look into rarely used materials and find materials that look much more high-end and expensive than they really are. They love to take materials out of their context and create something different. It’s all about playing with the perception and the properties of materials. 

A first project they did together was a project for the London Design Festival in 2014, called -ISH. They started from recycled jeans. They wanted to give it a high class marble look. They sanded away the fibres until it became a glossy look-a-like of marble. It was a project about the illusion of stone look-a-like materials made from recycled and reclaimed post-industrial waste. In the end it didn’t feel like a cheap material, which normally is the connotation that recycled material gets. 

Aside from look-a-like-marble they also created look-a-like-slate with high pressed laminated paper, that got split which gave the natural stone look. 

They won the design awards with their idea and Cos approached them to design their window displays in London, Paris, Milan and New York, because they were launching a denim line. 

Because of the publicity they received from the collaboration with Cos and the design awards, M.i.h. Jeans approached them to design their window displays and their stores. With the M.i.h.’s 70’s heritage, free spirit and nostalgic, homey feeling in the back of their mind, they created furniture pieces playing with geometric and organic shapes and asymmetry. Again they used repurposed denim and other recycled elements such as yoghurt pots. These recycled elements were combined with materials such as brass and wood. 

For last years London Design Festival Johnson Tiles approached De Allegri & Fogale to design an installation that reflects their company. The location was on the bridge of the Medieval Renaissance gallery in the V&A. The brief was very open and without restrictions. They wanted to create something  bright. A play of perception, layers and colours. They wanted to create an experience and work with the actual space. Because they wanted to work with a transparent material, they made an installation with acrylic. The challenge was to find the sizes they wanted and the right colours. They didn’t want it to be just a rainbow-coloured bridge but wanted to go for a more elegant touch in colour choice. That’s when they found a manufacturer in France that they then worked with. Getting the installation structurally safe proved to be a difficult process. In the ideal world the elements would just stand on themselves, but it had to be calculated without the advice of engineers. After long discussions they finally found the most subtle solutions, which was having extra acrylic sheets in between the panels with were connected to each other with little metal connectors. For the flooring they wanted Johnson Tiles to make an overall gradient of blue tiles so they could show what their abilities were and how well they can control colour. 

After the exhibition Johnson Tiles wanted to throw the installation in the bin, but Laetitia and Matteo wanted to give it a second life, which they now did. The panels are now installed at the OXO Tower in London and you can see them until the end of February.  

For Salone Del Mobile 2016, they designed a pepper grinder and breadboards for ‘Makers & Bakers’ at Ristorante Marta in Spazio Rossana Orlandi 

And the last project they did was for Waste Not Want It by Bloomberg. De Allegri & Fogale were stuck by the hidden beauty inside the cables. In some way they wanted to integrate this material into furniture. They created a desk and seating from solid ash wood, which they made and steam-bent themselves. To keep some pieces together and to give direction within the texture of the table, they used aluminium shiny cables. This all represented the philosophy of Bloomberg, which is about transparency and connecting data and people.  


The Inside/Out Lecture Series is a series of talks about the built environment. 

The Interior Design programme of The RCA School of Architecture organised a presentation by Roberto Marcaccio of the architecture firm DSDHA.  

When architects give lectures about their work they tend to show a series of photographs of their completed buildings: striking images (often devoid of human presence) taken by third-party professional photographers, suggesting a totally unproblematic relationship between design practice, physical artefacts and their photographic representations. This lecture unpacked the complex nature of the relationship between architecture, buildings and photography, to then introduce the way in which DSDHA, as research-oriented architects, experiment with the photographic medium; treating it as a design tool rather than simply fixing on glossy images the final outcomes of our endeavours. 


The Inside/Out Lecture Series is a series of talks about the built environment. 

The Interior Design programme of The RCA School of Architecture organised a presentation by Hilde Francq of the Belgian trend agency, Francq Colors. 

Trend watcher Hilde Francq is a colour pioneer. Hilde started out in the bicycle business, where she introduced intense colours and prints to children's bicycles. They sold like hot cakes. This first-hand-experience convinced Hilde of the power of colour and trends. She wanted to apply her feeling for colour and trends to other branches, and so her company Francq Colors was born. She specializes in colour trends, working for clients from many branches: interior, fashion, lighting, hospitality, ... The company makes trend reports and consults on trends, gives seminars and workshops and supports companies with their marketing. 

The power of colour is immense. Research shows that the buying decision is to a large degree influenced by colour. Brands can build their image by choosing the right colours. So, it is important to stay on trend. To this end, Francq Colors carries out an extensive trend research every 6 months. Sociological, technological, economical, and political macro trends are translated into lifestyle trends, which are in turn translated to colour combinations, materials, patterns, textures and shapes. In a process that could be called 'reverse archaeology', Francq Colors constructs the near future by observing and selecting the right pieces of today. The result of all this is a trend presentation accompanied by a lengthy and richly illustrated trend report. 

Hilde gave an insight into lifestyle and interior trends for 2017 and 2018. Her presentation was built around six places, each one a metaphor for a lifestyle. Between The Monastery—symbolic for our disciplined approach to physical and mental health—and The Streets—the place of rebellion—she showed us how our lifestyles evolve and what that means for colour combinations, materials, textures, patterns and shapes in the next coming years. We received loads of visual inspiration. 


The Inside/Out Lecture Series is a series of talks about the built environment. 

The Interior Design programme of The RCA School of Architecture organised a presentation by Steve Jensen of the architectural practice Anarchitec. 

Steve Jensen is an architect with 25 years experience. He calls himself and his firm "an archive of chaos". Steve came from the analogue to the digital age and saw an opportunity for this presentation to digitize and assemble all his analogue-age projects. He has this obsession to make things, to translate his ideas into reality. “I’m a maker. The way I work is about buildability.” It’s really difficult to understand the world and keep it simple he also added. It’s not all about purity.  

Steve talked about the reality within the world of design. We use other people’s money to create something. Each move is crucial. There are always things that set you back and problems you bump into. It’s finding a balance between financial pressure and creative response. 

He also said model making is the core of designing, it’s not just the plan and sections and mood models that are important. Also the technical drawings, the way things work. Contractors need detailed plans where they can zoom in and out. It’s all about bringing the reality to your conceptual thinking. If you don’t draw it, somebody else will design it for you. You need to think about everything. 

Big, Bigger, Biggest was the name of his presentation in which he showed the nuts and bolts of the design process from initial creative response to constructed reality in three of his (all built) projects. 

“Bigger is not always the best. When it’s little you have more control over it, keeping a hold over it.”  


Shopping centre Leeds 
Grade I listed building 
2000 – 2001 

Wilson Barb Residence 
Bethnal Green London 
Residential Conversion 
Victorian Conservation area 
2004 – 2006  

Vivienne Westwood Design Studio 
Elcho Street Battersea, London 
Design Studio & Offices 
2007 – 2012 


The Inside/Out Lecture Series is a series of talks about the built environment.  

To kick off this year's series, the Interior Design programme of The RCA School of Architecture organised a presentation by Michael Riebel from world-renowned architectural practice Hawkins\Brown. 

Michael studied architecture and sociology and worked as an art historian and architect throughout his professional career. At Hawkins\Brown, Michael heads the “think-tank team, which develops the research part of the design process. 

The lecture was a presentation of the firm’s research on creative workplace design and layout, including studying movement and communication patterns via a grid of Bluetooth sensors to understand the disruptive quality of layout design. 

Forms of knowledge  

In his talk he highlighted two types of knowledge. The ‘tacit knowledge’ and ‘explicit knowledge’.  Explicit knowledge is like a book, where the knowledge is just there under your nose, whereas tacit knowledge it’s hidden.  

In tacit knowledge the transfer relies on social experience, trust and collaboration: Despite the rise of digital communication the importance of face to face interaction has endured as physical space is the ideal stage for tacit knowledge transfer.” 

He used the Matsushita bread making machine as an example for a true interdisciplinary effort. It’s a cycle of knowledge. We know more than we know. 

“What we perceive is not the physical space, but places that offer action possibilities to us.” – James Gibson 


When the research team of Hawkins\Brown looks at lay outs of the space, they look at the firm’s ethos, what sort of vibe and environment they work in. With that information they look at 3 points: 

  • Proximity 

How do people talk to each other? For example, a desk with bigger than 90-degree and round of corners allows people to talk more to each other. It’s just the little changes that make big differences. 

  • Permission 

When am I allowed to talk to who in the workspace? 

  • Privacy 

You can make a space private, but not totally private. How far can you can control the privacy? 

Disruption - Disruptive technology 

“Fun and engaging” offices with a lot of distracting activities like football tables and slides can be nice but how far can you push that? With simple elements, you can obtain an environment that encourages certain behaviour.  

“When you’re standing on a flat plane, nothing happens. There is no brain activity. On the oblique, you have feelings; you feel the force when climbing and euphoria during the descent.” – Claude Parent 

Prove it! 

To prove all this theory, Michael and the research team are using an application on people’s phones so they can track their moves and see where the most social hang outs within a space are when it’s the best time and where to meet the boss, and so many other data. They base their designs on this information. 

The lecture was really interesting, because we live in a world where co-working is the new type of working and opens an endless possibility to designing for the workplace 


Bjarke Ingels, Kunlé Adayemi, Frank Barkow and Regine Leibinger, Yona Friedman and Asif Khan discussed their designs for the 2016 Pavilion and Summer Houses with Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist, in a series of panels moderated by Vicky Richardson. 

Bjarke Ingels started his process by looking at what was already done in the other pavilions; the materials, structures and how the architect worked.

He kept the climate, tactility and strategy in mind while designing and searching for materials.

He not only thought like an architect but also like an artist.

The material he used in the end was glassfibre from a company called Lay Light in the middle of Denmark. The material reflects the light and gives a certain glow to the pavilion. It’s a light material that’s not yet used a lot.

His inspiration came from everyday life. He tried to make the ordinary extraordinary, driven by material and structure. The way the bricks are put together creates everything.

Everyone sees something else in the design; either a big gate, a glove fitting over the pavilion, a cave or a giant matrix. Ingels created a grand gesture that made the little lawn look like a big, heroic cathedral. The design unfolds a lot of possibilities and meanings depending on the perspective. The design has a certain quality of interaction, inhabitation.

On the other hand, it is also just” a gigantic play of sliding boxes next to each other. We design buildings that do what we say”, Ingels stated. Creating a place where people’s happiness can be expressed is one of the key aspects of his buildings. Focussing on human happiness allows you to celebrate and maximize human enjoyment. That’s why the design is so playful.

For me the pavilion is like a sexy pavilion that opens with a gigantic zipper. 

In the second part of the talk the designers of the Summer Houses talked about their designs.

Asif Kahn dug in Caroline’s and the temples history. His design is a game of orientation. It’s an analysis of the sun orientation. The temple was built in the direction of the sunrise on Caroline’s birthday. The table in the middle reflects the sun.

Kunlé Adayemi follows the rules of classic Architecture. He designed probably the most literal Summer House. His design reflects the rotation of the void. And is built like ruins found in nature. He respected the geometry. He researched the temple, looked at the plan and the forms and learned from the environment. He crossed the boundary between architecture, interior and furniture design and creates an open space for people to sit and hang out. For him, this project was also an opportunity to explore materials. The design is hard on the outside, covered with sandstone, and soft on the inside, covered with fabric.

Yona Friedman says that architecture is a composition of parts that mean something. He created a modular system for the user, the inhabitant.

Frank Barkow and Regine Leibinger took their Inspiration from rotating rooms. The pavilion offers a 360 degree view of the park. They built with the idea of walking through contemporary architecture. It’s an escape with infinity creating infinity and the unpredictable. 


A panel discussion chaired by Virginia Mcleod (commissioning Editor at Phaidon) with Peter Chadwick (author, This Brutal World), Jane Hall (Assemble), Douglas Murphy (writer and architect) and Tom Odell (director, Utopia London) took place at RIBA to mark the publication of This Brutal World, a book on Brutalism.

The panel discussion took a wide view of Brutalism, celebrating and criticizing it at at the same time. 

The panel firstly redefined and expanded the term ‘Brutal’ to include buildings usually considered outside the movement. When Brutalism started, it was everywhere. All buildings at that time were brutal, all things were concrete. Buildings that we today consider as Modernist would have been called Brutalist in that era.

This extends to today: an architect like Liebeskind calls himself a Modernist, but is actually, in a way, also a Brutalist. Brutalism is not restricted to the use of ‘béton brut’, it can also be considered an attitude and aesthetic: powerful, graphic, and repetitive.

The revival of brutalism, also called New Brutalism, doesn’t only use concrete, but also adds steel, glass and other materials. Architects are still bringing new Brutalist buildings.

 Nowadays there is an increasing adoration of the Brutalist movement. Why is that? Because of the transcendent architecture, its heroic attitude and how it dominates the surrounding buildings? We are unconsciously falling in love with the nostalgic aspect of the movement and the fascination for concrete.

Douglas Murphy talked about political urbanism and the attitude in the 60s. Brutalism is often associated with political change, wealth, communism and socialism. The Brutalist architecture is sometimes also associated with slums, juvenility and the scary bits of the society. Scary architecture becomes desirable architecture.

Jane Hall talked about poor architecture, in which you can see people worked on it. Concrete is an industrial product, but Brutalists managed to make it look human, thus making an inhuman architecture more human. The concrete is bush hammered, which gives a hand crafted look. Hand labour is apparent in the material.

Why did brutalists choose concrete? Concrete was associated with war at the time. But after the war, architects looked for the cheapest and the quickest way to build something. Concrete was the most obvious material, and the forms of brutalist buildings reflected their construction of concrete elements.

Virginia Mcleod asked a really interesting rhetorical question: Maybe Brutalism is still there?  Brutalism means a lot of different things to other people around the world. Look at the designs of David Chipperfield, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, …

When they were talking about the black and white pictures in This Brutal World of Peter Chadwick, Douglas Murphy made an interesting notice about that everything in the 50’s, 60’s was photographed in black and white because coloured photographs didn’t exist yet. It’s when the coloured photographs were developed, more coloured buildings made their appearance.

Jane on the other hand remarked that there are no humans in his pictures of the buildings, but if there were it would have given a more human character to the brutalist buildings on the pictures.

The positive thing about the Brutalist movement in the early days was that it gave a platform to young architects, especially in Britain. It gave them the chance to use their imagination and create utopian cities. It expressed the state and their politics.

An inconvenient aspect about Brutalist buildings is that a building was built with purpose, which makes the building less adaptable in the future. Today’s buildings on the contrary are built in a more economical and adaptable way.



During the Clerkenwell Design Week, Becky Sunshine did an interview with Tom Dixon about his career and his choice of materials.

Tom Dixon studied pottery. He was fascinated by clay and its possibilities, by the fact that clay can transform from no form at all to an object. Clay is also an abundant material in this region. You could say the Thames and surroundings are just resting on top of a pot of clay.

After his pottery studies, he played in a music band but because of an accident and a broken arm wasn’t able to play anymore. He wanted to do something else. Around that time, London was littered with metal so together with some friends he started collecting metal from the scrapyards that were located from Battersea Bridge till Wandsworth Bridge. He liked the act of making stuff and liked metal because it is a forgiving material: if you make a mistake, there’s the possibility to fuse it back together. It is a material that one can transform very quickly.

At that time, copper and brass were totally unfashionable materials. In those days, you had to go back to the days of the Arts and Crafts movement to find copper and brass being used in design. So Tom Dixon was actually quite rebellious at the time using these materials. He was really interested in the metal casting, metallisation and brassing (the use of a brass rod to fuse things together). Another fascination was technology, especially lamps because they are driven by technology. “Lamps work!” he says.

Not a lot of designers have made a brand of themselves. Most product designers sell their products under brand names such as Vitra and Herman Miller. Tom Dixon didn’t want this because of the enormous competition between designers under the same brand, competition not only with living but also with dead designers. He tried to work for big brands but it wasn’t really his thing. He wanted to create his own stuff. So he started his own brand, TOM DIXON.

Dixon also pointed out that the world we now live in is extremely difficult for designers to survive because of upcoming technologies like 3d printing, laser cutting, CNC, waterjet, … Everybody can make stuff, there’s no need for craftsmanship anymore. He might have a point, and that is pretty scary to hear for an Interior/ Furniture Design student.

To conclude with, he also talked about the masculine image of the brand and how he tried to make it slightly softer. Personally I don’t find Tom Dixon designs very masculine, as there is a certain elegance to the way he uses his materials. I’m a fan and always will be!


In addition pictures of Tom Dixon’s ‘The Church’ at Clerkenwell Design Week and of the installation ‘Hakfolly’ designed by FleaFollyArchitects.


‘Does Architecture make a good city?’ Was the question David Chipperfield started his lecture with. The key to a good city is to find the balance between Architecture, Investment and Urbanism. However, which should come first and do they working together?

Does a city need good Architecture? We love what buildings stand for even when there’s a conflict in form and style. To what degree does the physical need to be there to make a good city. Chipperfield doesn’t believe that a city can’t be diverse. It can have different styles. A city doesn’t need to freeze.

What should a good city look like? We don’t imagine anymore what a city should look like. Opening a window and looking out of it at a beautiful view is everybody’s dream, but we’re not capable to build cities like that anymore.

Isn’t a city where people live in? the main substance of a city is domestic. Behind every window there’s life. Physical and social elements is what makes a city. The problem we’re currently dealing with is that we plan buildings but not the spaces between them anymore.

Housing estates do not work! What happened to housing? Why do we only build expensive housing? The big problem is that the private sectors became stronger and that there’s a growth in the investment sector. Because of the the post war anxiety, Le Corbusier introduced the idea of towers for social housing. The Barbican is one of the few Social housing projects in England that worked and were built with a vision. There was an idea of community behind and it was part of the city. It was motivated by vision, land investment, ideas. The perfect mix.

When did London stop Urban planning and started Master planning? Master planning in the meaning of planning without vision, so logistic planning. It’s like a farm divided up the land and try to put in as much as possible. The only comfort that master planning gives is the idea of planning something.

Does protection limit investment? Are the investors here in London because they think we’re a rack city? Everybody has a certain idea when they think about a city. If we keep knocking it down, we will lose the city and we’re going to have nothing left anymore. Are there methods to still keep the city as well as investors?

Why do we need tall and ‘fat’ buildings? “The tall buildings are like a rash you get when you’re ill and it’s visible now. ‘Fat buildings are just justified by investment, efficiency, and optimization’. It’s all about the money!


In an evening lecture of the LSE Cities series, Lisa Björkman came to talk about her book, 'Pipe Politics, Contested Waters: Embedded Infrastructures Of Millennial Mumbai'. This subject is totally out of my area of expertise, but just because of that it's nice to broaden my horizon. So I went with an Indian friend.

Björkman went to Mumbai to find out by herself how two decades of urban development and economic growth have affected the city's water infrastructure.

I was shocked by how corrupt the economic system in Mumbai is, and how poor the community is on water supply. A weird fact that struck me is that pipes and connections of pipes can be stolen, so there’s even a job as ‘pipeline guard’. They are social workers who guard your pipeline from not being stolen. 


My first thought when I got an invite to follow this seminar was ‘What on earth does this have to do with design?’. The answer is: a lot!

One of the speakers at the event, ‘Loop.pH’, showed pictures of one of their projects. It looked familiar to me. It turned out they were the ones exhibiting The Horticultural Spa during the London Design Festival at the Old Selfridges Hotel where Tom Dixon and Wallpaper presented Multiplex, an immersive, multi-sensory department store of the future. Now I just found out that the skin care brand Haeckles from Margate, which I visited, worked together with the Horticultural Spa to showcase their brand.

(see picture The Horticultural Spa at LDF; and Haeckles at Margate)

The speakers at the lecture were:

SymbioticA- They talked about the Tissue Culture and Art Project. This project is an on-going research and development project into the use of tissue technologies as a medium for artistic expression. They are investigating our relationships with the different gradients of life through the construction/growth of a new class of object/being – that of the Semi-Living.

Synthace – They talked about engineering biology for health, food, and material abundance with Antha. Antha is a high-level language for biology, making it easy to rapidly compose reproducible work flows using individually testable and reusable Antha Elements.

Anna Dumitria – She talked about her artwork which is Bio-art and Bacteria. She is a British artist who explores our relationship to the microbial world, biomedicine and technology.

Loop.pH – Loop.pH is a spatial laboratory interfacing architecture and life science. They are creating visionary experience and environments.


Tom Dixon has always been a favorite of mine. I am fascinated by the way he uses industrial materials like copper. During the London Design Festival, the Tom Dixon’s shop was collaborating with Wallpaper*, Moo and some others. Of course there was his well known collection, but what really inspired me was the moodboard he created, the very moodboard that was the foundation for his shop look. All the different materials and colours were very carefully selected to create a harmonious whole.

Sadly, I missed the speech of Ron Arad and Tom Dixon, but I was on time for the lecture of Amanda Levete. I am currently inspired by her work and especially love her future project for the V&A.

Moodboard for Tom Dixon's shop

Moodboard for Tom Dixon's shop





The Horticultural Spa by Loop.pH - products by Haeckles

The Horticultural Spa by Loop.pH - products by Haeckles