Originally from Biella, in Piedmont (Italy), where he lives and works, with a degree in Territorial, Urban and Environmental Planning from the Politecnico in Milan, Davide Paganotti is an extremely creative designer in three dimensions, specialising in furnishing and furniture complements, such as lamps, amplifiers for smartphones or tablet supports, but also in toys. He is a professional with the dual soul of a designer, but also of an artisan because almost all of his projects are followed and completed in person: from design to feasibility studies, up to actual manufacturing. His minimalist style and care for the environment have led him to use natural and non-polluting materials, preferably recycled, in many cases alveolar cardboard. This is how the lamp called Moon originated – round, sinuous and slightly mysterious – or the stool called Elvis, practical, as well as original and suitable for various settings … not to mention the Wave armchair which can be turned into a sofa if necessary.
«Less is more»
Someone also considers his approach Zen-like because he thinks that anything useless can be eliminated. How did he become interested in design?
«I had a scientific training background, in secondary school then at University, where I studied territorial, urban and environmental planning. But I have always been interested in design and more specifically in self-made design. I worked for several architectural firms where, among other things, I made architectural models to scale. For the last year and a half I have started to enjoy a more concrete use of cardboard».
This basic approach includes in the work the required features for a design item: beauty, usefulness, style, simplicity and clear-cut lines.
Cardboard: recycled and certified
The choice of material is definitely not random, and cardboard has pride of place in Paganotti’s work: «I choose materials with the environment in mind and the impact on it by my artworks. My customers are looking for products which are original and sensitive to environment issues, as well as paying attention to the use of materials and to the history behind the product. I choose cardboard because of its technical features, namely the size of the inner cell and thickness of the outside Kraft; moreover I prefer cardboards made using recycled paper or which are certified. My supplier is Ti-Vu Plast, an Italian company, and I use Falconboard cardboard produced in the United States using 100% recycled paper».
Part designer, part artisan
The work by Paganotti combines his two souls; on the one hand the designer, more connected to the ideation and design phase, and on the other the artisan, which often involves cutting, pasting, tightening screws. «The idea originates on paper, however I have a material-based approach to design; this means that often, after the first sketches, I start to play by folding the paper or poster board to make models which immediately give me an idea of the finished products. I make the products myself which means that my work has a marked artisan component. I am the one who assembles the various parts of the finished products, cut the wooden components, paste them, tighten screws, paint, etcetera».
Designing is a bit like wishing to change the world
This is what he has written about his work: «Designing is my form of expression: give me some cardboard and I will turn it into a piece of furniture». What is there behind this wish to create? Making an impression and wishing to change the world? «Design is my expression medium: there are people who paint, play an instrument … I design items. My designer items are attractive and practical because I think that living surrounded by harmonious objects helps improve our quality of life; this is my contribution to a better world. Someone calls me an aesthete, and this search for beauty and harmony has a number of effects on my daily life: I carefully choose the socks to wear depending on my clothes; I hang my shirts up in the wardrobe according to colour; when I enter a room what strikes me most is the overall vision rather than the details. Design is part of my life: I make no clear-cut distinction between work and leisure time. I might get ideas about new products while walking in the countryside. I play with shapes, proportions, materials, and try to implement the idea which I have in mind ».
Great attention to childhood
Is it cardboard that leads to the world of children or the other way round? What are his sources of inspiration? «It is cardboard that leads to children; paper is one of the first toys from a very young age. Cardboard allows you to make toys, and it is a creative toy in itself because on the rocking chairs children can draw, scribble, write or attach stickers. I once saw photos of one of my rocking chairs after the little girl who had received it as a present had customised it: I would never have used all that pink, but the main thing is that she likes it. I have no favourite source of inspiration. Sometimes the idea comes from within myself, other times from my surrounding environment or daily life».