Aesthetics, function, emotion and attention. Giorgio Caporaso talks of his cardboard furniture as the expression of a broad concept of sustainability: created with natural materials, which can be assembled, repaired, recycled and changed, «because a product is eco sustainable when it can carry out several functions».
Known throughout the world, Giorgio Caporaso is an Italian architect and designer who, since the beginning of the 2000s, started to study a line of products and complementary furnishings designed according to criteria of sustainable design, reworked with a specific and personal approach. His aesthetic journey is oriented towards experimenting with coupling materials which have never before been put together, and searching for simple and interchangeable solutions: continuous patient and courageous design work led him to create the first products of his Ecodesign Collection, suitable for all aspects of contemporary life, and designed to optimise their use and durability. Not only furniture, but an expression of a real philosophy of respect for the environment and attention to the requirements of an increasingly fast-paced and changeable life: «My design is the result of experimentation and research on materials, their strength and their aesthetic and sensory qualities», says Caporaso. «More than just furniture, they are a real system, since they can enhance, transform and develop over time with new elements and components. My research, with the design of this collection, was to try to create objects which can be adapted, re-used and recycled, taken apart and put back together, as well as to use various materials which, coupled together, mutually enhance each other, creating specific sensory situations. A kind of ecological and eco sustainable contamination, since all the various components can be disassembled by type of material and be sent to sorted waste disposal and recycled and returned to a new life».
We interviewed him on his return from the last exhibition at Lucca, Cartasia, which gathers together artists from all over the world in an extensive sharing of artistic projects, and where he exhibited his latest creations.
Architect Caporaso, will you tell us how your Ecodesign Collection came into being?
«The Ecodesign Collection began more than ten years ago with the intention of constructing objects with eco sustainable and recyclable, or already recycled, materials, which would have specific functions. The eco sustainable product, indeed, should not be inferior to the traditional product, but research must be still more driven and higher performing, also with regard to style and function: shape and function of the products.»
What are the characteristics, the parameters that the product must respect?
«First of all, the product must use, as far as possible, natural and recyclable materials which can be assembled. It is therefore necessary to be able to start from a basic model which – putting all the elements together – makes a more complex product. It must be able to be customised. This means that the product can express what we are, our soul. It must be able to be repaired, creating a new affection for objects which must be repairable and able to be reconstructed, even by the end user. It must be able to be disassembled – a fundamental aspect – so that at the end of the product’s life all the materials can be separated to be recycled and sent to sorted waste disposal. And finally, it must be changeable, so that it does not suffer from fashions going out-of-date, being able to change colours or finishes. Because a product is eco sustainable when it can carry out several functions.»
Why paper and cardboard?
«Cardboard is a material which gives me so much satisfaction. It is not a second-best choice, but is like an ugly duckling which changes into a swan. It is no longer the material used mainly for designing packaging to contain other products, but it becomes a product in itself, with a soul and sensoriality. Also demanding. Cardboard greatly influences both the shape and sensoriality of these products. And this is why I try to create objects which enhance it.»
What other materials?
«As well as cardboard, materials are used to make junction points and places of specific wear structurally stronger. These materials can be wood, methacrylate and/or bioplastic, which are combined together to create strong products, which last well over time. Not only that. The materials use are often already recycled, or FSC certified. But to be eco sustainable it is also the way in which they are used: most of the parts are interlocked together or else screwed or stuck as a mono-material, so that they can later be separated, disassembled and recycled.»
How does a project start?
«By way of example, I will tell you how the Twist chair started: fascinated by a vortex of wind, I decided to look into the topic of the circle in more depth, and I worked on a shape which could be used in industry. And thus I went from the idea to the design, first on paper, then to the computerised design (with measurements and parameters), to the prototype of the chair, which was tried and tested for its strengths and weaknesses. Determinants were the choice of type of cardboard and the direction of cut to be carried out, the combination of cardboard of different thicknesses, one triple wave and one plain cardboard, a real discovery, which led to a particularly pleasing and durable assembly. A sandwich concept which I have used a lot in products in this collection. The cutting stage was followed by checking the assembly with the materials and elements which help to make the structure of the seat strong. This production phase was crucial. The last step, but a fundamental one, was the choice of the range of finishes available, a vast choice, which can even be customised upon request, which allows the customer to make this chair unique.»
Let’s talk of the product line made from ecological and recyclable cardboard: the Ecodesign Collection of the Lessmore line…
«The Ecodesign Collection of the Italian Lessmore brand is a furniture line which includes seats, tables, modular systems and complementary fittings: all combined from a unique, elegant and sustainable design, with a simple but refined functionality and an ethic of caring for the environment and the future. There is a series of furniture and fittings made from ecological and recyclable cardboard, which have been awarded prizes and recognition both nationally and internationally. The More design won first prize in the Tomorrow’s design competition announced by the BEDG at the 100% Design Futures 2008 in London.
The 2onde chaise longue was selected to participate in the Product Design Competition of the FoID (Festival of Interior Design), organised by the APID (Association of Professional Interior Designers) at Index 2011. In 2012 the Lessmore products were exhibited at the 13th International Biennial of Architecture in Venice, to represent an eco sustainable line within the Sensory Domotic Home.
In addition, X2Chair, Twist Chair and More line products have received various international prizes from the ‘À Design Award and Competition at the IDA in Los Angeles.»