Crisscrossing the space-time-place-design continuum, you may not know Roberto Palomba, but he knows you. Chances are you’ve lounged on one of his sofas, made out under one of his lights or eaten Sunday dinner around one of his dining tables. “When you are designing you are designing for an unknown person that you know very well…you have to think globally,” Palomba explains. A worldview that is fitting as he has been named an honorary design ambassador by his country as part of Italian Design Day's international celebrations. Palomba Serafini Associati—Roberto and his wife Ludovica’s Milan based design studio founded in 1994—have been shaping our intimate relationship with spaces and objects for brands the likes of Kartell, Giorgetti and Versace’s Home Collection.
Ironically though, making a name for himself is one thing Palomba jokingly takes issue with, “In design I am not interested in a signature and recreating my signature or being recognized for my signature…I think our role is to make something better. We have millions of products and I don't want to make something that is just a substitute. I think we have to work for quality.” With a focus on functionality and sustainability, Palomba Serafini Associati has continued to share their vision, which highlights the best of Italian design past and present. Building on a legacy of craftsmanship in Italy that dates back centuries Palomba explains, “[when] the economy was coming from the culture, the culture was creating beauty - that is the reason we do good things.” As a beacon of luxury, this uniquely Italian recipe has clearly endured.
The balance of ethical consumerism has become a focus of Palomba's in recent years. With four guiding principles, Palomba Serafini Associati has developed a northstar for sustainable design. Durability, “when we talk about durability we are talking about quality. If you create something that is quality you have to fight against trends.” Dis-Assembleability, “You have to be thinking not just about the life of the product but the death of it…in case you break or damage a part of a product you can renovate it, you don't have to throw it away.” Recyclability, “Another table, cut down a tree, another marble floor, break a mountain, everything you see has been stolen from nature. We have mountains of trash that are the new raw materials.” Traceability, “the more we are cautious about where something comes from the more we can figure out where to ethically source it from.” It is this attention, not just to the past, but the future of design that has helped to secure Palomba's lasting legacy.