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In conversation with Paola Navone

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Renowned Italian designer Paola Navone spills the beans on her creative processes, inspirations and her take on Indian craft

A self-confessed Indophile, Milan based designer Paola Navone has a strong opinion and clear vision of how the design industry in India is shaping up. And why wouldn’t she? She’s speaking from experience after all – having spent decades designing furniture pieces for some of the best companies in Italy and planning several interior-design projects, residential and commercial, worldwide. Paola speaks of the simplicity in her work, holding her own while working with big brands and what makes her tick.  

What do you think of the direction in which the Indian design industry is going? 
Craft is a big asset for India. I have seen Indian master craftsmen generating some of the most fantastic products that cannot be produced elsewhere. The younger generation are more involved. They understand the value of craft while also promoting and improving the relationship between designers, craftsmen, producers and consumers.

You pioneered the shabby chic design aesthetic, which has been all the rage…
Everything I do has an informal mood connected to the simplicity and beauty of imperfect things. Simplicity is my way of being. It is a manifestation of my passion for handmade things. I try to recreate imperfections or “mistakes” in industrial production too.

Which project do you consider the turning point of your career?
All my creative adventures are a part of me. My beginning with Abet Laminati may be considered a turning point. The company asked some designers to imagine a pattern for a new laminate. I was so enthusiastic about the project that I presented 50!

Tell us about your ongoing projects… 
We are working on three restaurants in Singapore; Como Dempsey, a fashion and food hotspot in Dempsey Hill and a surf bar on the beach in Bali. Additionally, we’re designing a hotel in Greece. Our latest launch is a collection of tableware, accessories and kitchenware for Serax called Pasta&Pasta, providing everything you need to cook pasta. We are developing a new fabric collection for Kieffer by Rubelli as well as a temporary exhibition for Abet Laminati at Masion et Objet, Paris 2017.

Is there any object or project you wish you had done?
I would like to return to my Asian roots and develop new projects linked to the incredible savoire faire that belongs to that part of the world. I have roots in so many places across the globe, but, in this part of the world, my roots are a little bit longer…

What, in your opinion, is an occupational opportunity?
To me, it is to spot travel and see the world with enchanted eyes. Travel is my way of breathing. No matter how far away. I have the incredible fortune to feel at home everywhere and I could never give up on my nomadic life.

An element of nature you most relate to…
The sea. Water is my natural element. I am a fish. I was born in March so my sun sign is Pisces and blue is my colour.

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