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.  

INSIDE/OUT: ROBERTA MARCACCIO, DSDHA

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. 

http://www.dsdha.co.uk/ 

INSIDE/OUT: HILDE FRANCQ, FRANCQ COLORS

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. 

www.francqcolors.be 

INSIDE/OUT: MICHAEL RIEBEL, HAWKINS\BROWN

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 

Affordances 

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 

http://www.hawkinsbrown.com/ 

DAVID CHIPPERFIELD - PROTECT & DEVELOP

‘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!

PIPE POLITICS, CONTESTED WATERS - LSE CITIES

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.