Collaboration Across Oceans: An Interview with Pietro Franceschini

Collaboration Across Oceans: An Interview with Pietro Franceschini

To celebrate the launch of our collaborative collection with Italian architect and designer, Pietro Franceschini, we caught up with him to explore his inspirations, influences, and design journey. Pietro! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us today.

Tell me a little bit about your background, where you grew up, and where you’re based now.

Curiosity has been the thread throughout my whole education. Looking at my background, I see a series of obsessions one after the other that took me around the world and eventually led to a very unexpected outcome. I was born and raised in Italy where I received my Bachelor of Architecture from Università degli Studi di Firenze. After some time in Lisbon and Egypt, I moved to Paris where I worked for architecture firm Laisné Roussel. Then was the time of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and after some years working as an architect in New York, I finally started PF | Studio in 2020. I am now based between New York and Italy, but I consider myself a nomad.

How does the geographical background of your life help influence your work?

Italy and Europe gave me a solid intellectual background. References and research are still a very important part of my design process that allow me to decide where to position myself within the current discourse. The US brought to my work a strong desire to test new ideas and explore new languages. 

Tell me about your business from a design perspective – do you have a speciality or signature style?

My take on design is always evolving but if I had to pick a term that resonates well with my work it would be ‘digital surrealism’. My practice is very much in between digital and real. Along with the physical pieces of furniture, we also create surreal images in collaboration with visual artists. Those dreamy contexts allow my objects to find their souls and express themselves. I love when people look at our images and ask, ‘Is this real, or not?’.

What are some of the biggest influences on your work? How do the pieces you create help pay tribute to the past and tell the story of your journey?

There are many different references, both contemporary and from the past. Just to name some of them: the great Renaissance masters such as Leon Battista Alberti, Adolf Loos and the Vienna Secession, Mendelson and Bruno Taut. And among the modernists, Rick Owens, Destroyers Builders, Pedro Reyes. What I try to achieve through my work is character, and at the same time classical which can survive time and fashion. I do that through forms, references and materials.

What types of materials do you adore working with and what is the reasoning behind this? 

Each material allows me to explore a different language. Collaborating with different manufacturers gives me the opportunity to broaden my research without the risk of being stuck with the same thing forever. Metals and patinas create a light and sophisticated world, marble allows you to explore the boundary between sculpture and furniture, while fabrics and furs are my latest obsession. Sometimes it is interesting to make different versions of the same object; simply by changing the material, everything changes.

Ok, tell me more about the new collection

During the COVID-19 lockdown I happened to spend some time in Genova, one of the most inspiring yet hidden Italian cities. An unexpected friendship with a painter and a photographer led to one of the most creative times of my life. Urania, my latest collection, was named after a very picturesque sports club where we used to share ideas and draw at night.

This very specific body of work is made up of 8 upholstery pieces and one marble chair that was presented in Milan with Galerie Philia during 2021 Design Week. It is a further experimentation on my research about sculptural design. The geometry is pure and clean and everything is a combination of two modules combined in different ways. The main reference is clear: the iconic D600 by De Sede. The idea was to create upholstery pieces as if they were made of stone. For the visualisation we collaborated with the talented artist Enrico Capanni.     

How did the collaboration with Hegi begin?

When Nelli reached out in January 2020, we discussed briefly what Hegi Design was looking for, and Nelli expressed how she loves arches, curves, and upholstered designs. The Hegi Design team is very skilled at what they do, and Australia is a wonderful country with the perfect market for these pieces, so the idea of a collaboration was exciting.

And now, here we are.

What does 2022 have in store for you?

I am working on new collections, and testing new approaches and ideas. There will also be some great collaborations which is something new for me.

Stay tuned!