A Q&A with Francesco Bandini and Michele Iacovitti
Interface first exhibited at La Triennale in 2011, with the highly conceptual presentation, The Positive Floor. Such an innovative way to present carpet tiles had never been seen before in the industry, and earned Interface widespread recognition as a true design leader.
250m2 of mirrors on the ceiling reflected the stunning designs of the carpet tiles, creating the illusion of an elevated floor – a ‘positive floor’ forwhich there was no longer the need to look down. The shape of the exhibition units, reminiscent of the disrupted lines of a river-bed during a severe drought, raised awareness of climate change issues and of Interface’s approach to sustainability.The Positive Floor received praise from all over the world. The press described it as one of the few ‘must-visit’ exhibitions during Milan Design Week, and internationally respected designers expressed their admiration.
Following the incredible success of The Positive Floor, this year’s Interface exhibition shows all the signs of becoming another global success story. We talked to Michele Iacovitti, Vice President Marketing Communication & Branding at Interface, who created the Metropolis concept, and to Francesco Maria Bandini, the architect, artist and fashion designer who helped visualize it in a stunning design exhibition.
Michele, you have told us already about the Metropolis concept, but what is its core expression at the Triennale exhibition?
Michele: Well, with Metropolis our product designers wanted to create a collection that reflects this year’s leading design and socio-cultural trends. Trends that are about the fall and rebirth of human cities, about the natural regeneration of things into a more sustainable future, and about the power of nature over architectural destruction. I asked Francesco how we could express the terrifying signs of a catastrophic event – but, at the same time, also express the hope for a new, better future. We wanted to express the human hope for something better than we have left behind or that no longer exists.
Francesco: When Michele presented to me the idea of Metropolis, the first thing I thought was, “La fine di un’Era è necessariamente l’inizio di una nuova”, which means, “the end of an era is necessarily the beginning of a new one”.It may sound obvious, but I looked deeper into this subject, keeping my focus on the human aspect and on the elements associated with the theme of rebirth. Just like all other living creatures, humans have instincts for survival, adaptation and a sense of community. However, what differentiates us from the rest of the natural world is a sense of self-perception and the constant need for not simply expressing ourselves but for expressing ourselves through real beauty.
So you mean that for the Metropolis design exhibition you wanted to create something beautiful?
Francesco: I believe that the visitors at the Triennale exhibition will be the best ones to answer that question! What I mean is that the concept of beauty in its integral meaning has been fundamental for me when developing the design concept of the exhibition.
To find the ‘design key’ of how to transmit this, I asked myself a simple question: what image would a human mind conceive at the moment of the revelation that all of the known world is gone and that something new is being created? And I imagined light, pure light as the key element of the creative concept of the Metropolis exhibition – because everything has its origins in light.
Michele: Exactly – a pure expression of the alienation of everything, from which everything will be reborn. Pure light, the origin of existence, from which extraordinary forms will take new life. Something new, outstanding, and more sustainable.
In our Metropolis product collections, and then supported by a strong visual campaign, we have symbolized the past, present and future of human civilizations and their cities – their Metropolis indeed. The design concept of our exhibition at the Triennale symbolizes therefore the future…
So this explains why you chose the name ‘Metropolis’ and also why pure light is the key design element in your exhibition?
Michele: It certainly does. Metropolis is like the hopeful vision of a new and more sustainable future after an ideological apocalypse. We have conceived an imaginary place where we all dream of living and working. A place like a cocoon, inviting us to nest and be creative. The Metropolis exhibition expresses humankind’s continuous desire for constant regeneration; the everlasting hope for something new and better that will follow any destructive or apocalyptic event.
Francesco: Indeed, something as beautiful as pure light. The exhibition emerges from the ground that has now lost its physical connotations to become something transcendent, from which the matter, now seen as new opportunities, is reborn in all its beauty and possibilities. This is represented by an ordered series of geometries that rise dramatically up towards the sky, symbolizing the initial fragments of what will be a new path for humankind’s rebirth.