Founded in Florence in 1988 by Laura Andreini, Marco Casamonti and Giovanni Polazzi, Archea is a design studio in which over 120 architects collaborate, operating in the offices of Florence, Rome and Milan. In 2001, Silvia Fabi, coordinator of the studio's design activities, joined the founders. Thanks also to the collaboration with partner companies in Beijing, Dubai and Sao Paulo, the studio has created works of Architecture, Design, Interior Design and Graphic Design, all over the world. The interests and research activities of Archea Associati move from the landscape to the city, from the building to design and, despite being centered on architecture, the projects range from graphics to publishing - with the direction and editorial staff of the international architecture magazine “Area” - from exhibitions to applied research. The complementarity between the different activities focused on composition in relation to the various scales of the project opens up a constant critical reflection on the themes of architectural construction.
What are the ingredients that are never lacking in your way of designing?
Every good project, and consequently a good product, begins with a search for the world to which it belongs and with the knowledge of the environment that will produce it. Using these basic ingredients we have moved to create the entire Elio collection. We wanted to design a product that represented us and that we could also use in our projects, because Elio is not only a design object, with a strong formal research, but also a functional and technically advanced product.
What is the place that makes you feel the most inspired, within which you feel free to express yourself?
The space where I feel most inspired is certainly the studio: there I can find the right concentration to design, working and exchanging ideas with the project team. I have always loved confronting myself with new challenges, in search of new stimuli, with the awareness that both the fields of architecture and design are infinite terrains to explore. This is why we will never stop learning, learning but above all we will never stop being curious.
What does your product tell about you?
With the Elio product we have tried to express ourselves through shapes, trying to achieve what we have defined as a classic, eternal style. Clean, linear shapes, with apparently simple geometries, but which tell a strong research in their interactions.
These shapes are tied together with the different finishes, depending on the case, which allow Elio to enter heterogeneous spaces between them. It fits into any environment as if it had been specially designed, managing, at the same time, to express a unique character.
What does water represent for you?
Water par excellence is the most widespread element on Earth and one of the most important, present in everyone's homes. At the same time, water is an amorphous material, devoid of form and that is why we tried with the Elio line to give it shape and emphasize it. Water is an integral part of the formal profile of the tap, which in its 90 ° version, through the flow of water, closes the rounded arch profile suggested by the metal body.
What was your first job?
The Stop Line is perhaps our first major project, and dates back to thirty years ago.
The façade looks like a single surface in Corten and once we cross the entrance we find a sort of flooring made of glass shards that stand on slabs illuminated from below. This idea of walking on ice or on hot coals comes from the relationship with the figurative arts, and in particular from Arman's Accumulations of Objects.
Do you consider yourself more of a traveler or a reader of reality?
I believe that these two attitudes can coexist together: I consider myself a traveler for curiosity and the desire for knowledge, but at the same time also a reader of reality. In a project, knowing how to analyze the situation is always a source of inspiration and allows you to create functional and suitable objects, but without curiosity and the desire to experiment, you cannot create innovative projects!
Designing a line of bathroom products seems to be a very difficult request that requires a considerable technical approach… What helped you in this?
When we approach an entire line of products like this one linked by a common thread, the key point is to choose the character of the product. What we want to communicate, what we want to offer, what we want to convey and through this establish the basic lines that will determine the character of the product. Each element, even if intended for a specific use, has the recognizable imprint of the Elio collection.
What is it like to work with IB?
Working with IB has been and is very stimulating. We got to know the company as a whole and the enormous effort it makes to offer a very high production quality such as the numerous finishes that have been an integral part of the Elio project. Thanks to a long work and exchange of know-how with IB, we were able to achieve the set goal, to create a product that offers elegance, technology and adaptability. Every unexpected event was a way for us to refine and refine Elio. Each element that makes up the entire product line has followed a rigorous process of research, experimentation, correction and refinement that has made Elio a complete product from every point of view.