Quality and craftsmanship collide in the lovechild of Alisée Matta and Giovanni Gennari. Founded in 2005, .nobody&co. combines the excellence of the Made In Italy seal with an innovative approach that transcends design conventions. The duo met whilst still working in an advertising agency – and their harmony in all things work ethic, ideas and vision became evident. Over a decade into the .nobody&co. world, the duo sits down with Schön! to discuss the implication of product design – and why it shouldn’t be accessible to a select few. Functional design is a luxury that should be at everyone’s reach.
How did .nobody&co. come to be? How did you create the brand?
When we were working in advertising all our friends and colleagues from the creative floor would regularly come to us and asking for our help as we always seemed to have tons of ideas for books, products, concepts etc. But, during that period, neither of us ever had the time or the energy to follow through on our ideas that we were happily giving away and we realised that we only ever found the time to come up with creative ideas when it was somebody else asking us!
We found this interesting and, quite organically, whilst we were discussing the situation Giovanni and I came up with the idea of launching a creative group called .nobody&co. which would see each member coming up with a concept, starting it and then getting other peoples ideas about it…In the end, we just started with our ideas and kept the name.
How did you meet? What was the passion that united you?
We met at J Walter Thompson: Giovanni was an Art director, I was a Copywriter. One day, the Creative Director put us together to work on a project. Whilst we were brainstorming ideas I came out with a stream of consciousness and as I was attempting to articulate my thoughts Giovanni interrupted me. He had understood what I was saying immediately and he drew a perfect drawing of it and our brains and hearts have never stopped conversing since.
How did a background in advertising contribute to .nobody&co.? Was it helpful when you started out?
It was helpful in the sense that we instinctively took care of the designs also around the objects not only the objects themselves, logo, box, website, letterings, all came naturally with each piece. We worked with fantastic photographers and stylists who have a passion and respect for constant discovery which is not so easy today when conformity rules. We instinctively knew when to say yes or no to the nonsense wagon that at times follows design and this allowed us to keep things raw and ensures that we only did what we enjoyed doing.
How do you design when it comes to functionality? Is it crucial to your designs?
Even though our design may seem imaginative it actually has quite a classic matrix. Functionality is totally crucial. Our products are made for everybody – without distinction. Our design philosophy is steered towards fantasy, where form is determined by function, but also influenced by our willingness to push boundaries and to create something that stimulates a creative reaction. We keep our minds open to every possible stimulation. Behind every .nobody&co. idea there is an amazing work of precision.
Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
We keep our minds open to every possible stimulation, so finding ideas is more a way of living than a way of working. You can find them whilst gardening, when you bring your children to the playground, whilst tying your shoelaces, making order inside a sock drawer, putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes. When we feel we’ve scraped up enough ideas we get around a table and talk them through.
Is Italian craftsmanship crucial to the brand? Do you think the Made in Italy stamp is important, notably in interior design?
For us, Italian craftmanship is the best in the world in terms of innovation and research but most of all for its know-how and its amazing tradition. All our designs have been developed in Brianza, a principally around Cantù and we couldn’t ask for anywhere better. Most of our craftsmen and women work with practically all the most well known designer names from England and France, Holland; we are just “around the corner” so it is great.
Do you showcase your work during Milan Design Week? Or further afield? What is the public’s response to your designs?
Absolutely this is where everything started for us! The response is always amazing, people arrive from all over the world and we love to stand for hours showing, explaining and answering questions about our pieces. It is totally exciting and we love it! Next year we shall be in the most incredible space which has never been used to display design pieces either during Fuorisalone or at any time. Its location is a secret at the moment but we’ve been working on it since last April and we really hope it will be a new and invigorating experience for both fans of design and for those who would not normally be concerned with the world of design.
We have always tried to be imaginative when we think about displaying our pieces which was why last year saw us open our home, where the pieces were born and lived with us, to the public so people could understand that design and Fuorisalone is accessible and can be a personal experience. Every year we enjoy approaching the Milan Design Week differently.
For an iconic piece like the Bibliochaise, do you seek to minimalise space waste? Is simplicity a key component to your brand?
Simplicity is a key component not only in design but in life too. We don’t want to add “stuff” to an already full world, so we only produce pieces that don’t exist and that bring some functionality and style to our lives each and every day.
What ambitions do you have for .nobody&co.? What comes next?
At the moment we are designing a Tree House in a forest, which was quite unexpected… watch this space!