When Italian architect and designer Stefano Giovannoni talks about influences in his life, he says the most important was attending the University of Florence during the late 1970s. "That was where the concept of 'radical architecture' was born, which created a whole new language and way of expression in Italian design," he says. It was a movement that threw out all the rules, resulting in a new vision for designers and architects.
It may also have influenced the naming of his first studio, founded with Guido Venturini in the 1980s, which was called "King-Kong."
With an eye for communication and a penchant for cleverness, Giovannoni has designed some of the most commercially successful products in the world, including the successful Girotondo and Mami lines of household products for Alessi, Il Bagno Alessi, and the Bombo family for Magis.
In fact, Giovannoni says seeing the results of his products is even more satisfying to him than the many prestigious awards he's won over the years. "It's my job to think about how a product will be received in the marketplace, and that is something I take very seriously," he says.
Products such as the Bombo Stool, Paso Doble Family, Chair First, Table First, all designed for Magis, exemplify his innovative use of materials and original thinking. Chair First, for example, was the first three-dimensional plastic chair created through gas-injected air molding, while the Bombo Stool created a whole new typology (it moves up and down) and was so futuristic it appeared in the movie "Star Trek."
Paying attention to popular culture is something he feels all designers need to do. "We have to have long antennas to perceive changes in society as a whole and adopt our language to the context of the larger world," he says, noting with approval the current focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship.
A former professor at several universities, Giovannoni advises up-and-coming designers to focus on research and not settle for the easy, simple solutions. "They each need to find their own personal way of expressing their ideas, and that takes a lot of time and a lot of thinking," he says.
Giovannoni's own prodigious work is included in major museums throughout the world.
Design Plus Award, Frankfurt Fair-Ambiente, 2003, 1996, 1994
Forum Design Hannover Award, 1999
Competition for the Restructuring of the Historical Centre at Casteldisangro-Aquila, 1989 (First Prize, with Andrea Branzi and Remo Buti)
Shinchenchiku Residential Design Competition, 1985 (Second Prize)
P.A. Conceptual Furniture Competition, Chicago, 1983 (Honorable Mention)
Shinchenchiku Residential Design Competition, Tokyo, 1980 (First Prize)
Competition for a Square at Santa Croce sull'Arno, Florence, 1980 (First Prize)