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.