Fabio Novembre: wear different cloths with each new project

April 2020


Fabio Novembre


Nico Fedi e Paolo Oliveri


Fabio Novembre website

…the important moments always coincide with the important meetings

When projects are offspring of custom, we should take a step back 

What we still call “Italian design” is nothing more than a system of businesses linked to small numbers but to great quality

Character outside the box and with a strong charisma, Fabio Novembre mixes architecture, design, fittings and interiors in his journey, thanks to the use of a language that is never taken for granted and always looking for novelty. The love for the female body, the vortices transformed into flows of energy, but also a reinterpretation of the architecture of her homeland (Puglia), make each of her projects a “firstborn”, never a child of custom and reproposal.

Fabio Novembre ph: Luigi Milano

What are the most important moments of your training course?

In my case the important moments always coincide with the important meetings. Since before the discovery of mirror neurons I have always been a staunch supporter of growth through relationships between human beings. From the parents who built my foundation, to the friends who provided me with confrontation, to the teachers who opened up possibilities to me, to the women who taught me love, to the daughters who gave me wings.

Fabio Novembre - Venus per Driade - 2017

How do you move when you receive a new assignment, or do you approach a new project?

I feel like I’m a snake shedding skin. I always wear a different hat to live the new experience as if it were the first, as if it had no precedents, without any reference cases. Every project, like every love, has the right of the firstborn. When projects are offspring of custom, we should take a step back and let the generational change become the carrier of new instances, with renewed energy.

Fabio Novembre - IceDream per Sammontana - 2019

Is there a mental difference between design and architecture?

“From the spoon to the city” is a slogan coined by Ernesto Nathan Rogers in 1952. It can be said that this definition has characterised the Italian culture of the project from the post-war period to the present day. Italian designers up to my generation were trained in architectural universities, and they faced design with the same critical and technical tools. I’ve always used a film metaphor to compare design and architecture: objects are short films and buildings are feature-length films. The difference is essentially in the budget, because the same level of skill is required. But the whole process is focused on telling stories through space, with a three-dimensional plus that no other discipline allows.

Fabio Novembre per Lamborghini - 2017

Contemporary Italian design and the relationship with foreign design: what do you think we should focus on and what should we remodel instead?

What we still call “Italian design” is nothing more than a system of businesses linked to small numbers but to great quality, which has innovated the language of domesticity from the post-war period to the present day. But thinking of holding a monopoly on taste is very presumptuous as well as impossible. Italian identity is a concept that we should all ask ourselves to try to redefine it in terms of contemporaneity, without resting on our laurels and becoming complacent. See, when we say French fries it is not obvious to think of France. Potatoes are native to South America and only became popular in Europe in the sixteenth century. What was probably invented in France in the eighteenth century then spread around the world under the name of French fries. Talking about Italian design is the same sort of thing. It is a phenomenon born in Italy after the Second World War in a condition of necessity stimulated by the needs of reconstruction. The famous “art of getting by” led that generation to reinvent itself a world starting from objects for the home, starting again from the spoon to get to the city. That design sensitivity, long believed to be an Italian monopoly, is today expressed by excellence of any origin. Fruits of generations nourished with the same cultural food that produced massive effects, but also stimulated individual inspiration by transforming personal visions into universal icons. The current protagonists of Italian design are French, Dutch, American, Japanese, Australian, Spanish, German and even Italian, but without forms of creative competition. The sense of competition has emptied itself in favour of participation. Even Italian companies cannot think of maintaining this supremacy by natural law, contemporary Darwinism rides the tiger of globalisation and in no sector do position earnings exist. Italian design can no longer belong to a single country: it is a totem, a human right, like a portion of French fries.

Fabio Novembre - Trulli per Kartell - 2018

Many of your objects have shapes that replicate those of the human body; some traits are captured and reinterpreted. What led you to this choice?

My personal story is marked by boundless love for the female form, a continuous source of inspiration. I recognise perfection in the design of its forms. The body and falling in love inspire whatever reasoning I have to do with the project simply because they are the basis of that unique experience that we call life. Immersed in the constant flow of evolution, we often forget the carnality linked to our feeling. Today the evolution of all my work is being played out between the contemporaneity of the input and the primordiality of the output.

Fabio Novembre - Nemo per Driade - 2010

In your opinion, is there a line between excess and flair? And if so, where does it lie?

I’m in favour of open borders.

A few years ago, you interviewed some great masters of Italian design, such as Sottsass, Magistretti, Branzi e Mendini. Which of these creatives left their mark on your path, and for what reason?

I loved my Masters; I never felt the need to kill them (metaphorically) to evolve. I want to think I have internalised them. I like to imagine myself with the charisma of Sottsass, the irony of Magistretti, the depth of Branzi and the lightness of Mendini.

I feel like I’m a snake shedding skin

I’ve always used a film metaphor to compare design and architecture

THE TREE MAG – The Fruits of Ideas