Interview with Anna e Paola Lenti

Veronica Orsi

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4 APR 2017
After bringing the comfort of interior in the outdoor space, Paola Lenti comes back to its origins with a rich collection for indoor. Functionality and stylistic coherence are the values at the base of the two lines. We talk about that with Anna and Paola Lenti

After so many years, you moved from the Umanitaria to the Orobia factor. What other new developments should we expect for this edition of FuoriSalone? 
We have taken a more systematic approach to the interior environment, so we needed an exhibition space that can contain our products. This is the reason why we changed location, even though we were always very happy at the Umanitaria. 
This year we are mostly focused on the indoor environment, working on sofas, tables, new chairs, fabrics and finishes. While the exterior collection developed over the years, there are expectations for interiors that we have never addressed before so we wanted to explore further, while maintaining the approach that has always set us apart: we are not guided only by the thought of making a sofa, a living room, a set, we want to see our pieces within buildings that are befitting and consistent with our ideals. 
This concept, for example, gave rise to the system of modular panels, which creates a real architectural structure.

How much does the context, natural and otherwise, influence your creations?
We work very hard on the context. With our whole range, both in chromatic and product terms, we seek to interpret the site that houses them, being guided by what the space offers, be it a garden, a terrace, a space by the sea or in the mountains. We let ourselves be guided by the surrounding environment. For this reasons, the colours of the furniture should never be too transgressive: it is such a privilege to be amidst nature that is not too invasive. 

From this symbiotic relationship with nature comes “Travel Notes”. Isn’t it more of a photographic book than a catalogue?
What once we called catalogues are increasingly now a series of instruments that are also instruments of inspiration because those who leaf through a book – in which we have worked to recreate a real environment – we think may be open to other suggestions. That’s how “Travel Notes” came about. For every setting, we didn’t simply position the products, we created a design, just as if we were designing a house or a hotel: we conduct an inspection, we decide what goes well, we make the products ad hoc, we position them and that is why they seem naturally integrated in the context. Moreover, we don’t like to be too commercial, which we also avoid in our events and in the way of presenting ourselves. 
What we are trying to recreate is a pleasant, coherent and functional environment because don’t forget – as we always say – that furniture is a service, not an end in itself, a point of arrival. We are making chairs, sofas and tables: they must be fit for the purpose for which they were designed.

The colours are one strong point of your collections. Do you prefer to follow trends or go against the flow?
The trend is always important, even though we realise that, unfortunately or fortunately, we are a little ahead of the times and so we come out with colours that are more easily understood a year or two later. 
Even the colour combinations often depend on the host environment, but there are variations and the greens, blues and turquoises are the most popular. But that’s also why we have a collection paced like this: so that everyone can find the right thing in the right place. Meeting all personalisation requirements is also one of our strongpoints.

How has the outdoor sector change over the years and how have you got along with the indoor one? 
When we began in 2000, there were only much more austere products, more rigid, made only in metal and plastic. We were the first to introduce fabric and comfort, a transformation that at the beginning even we didn’t understand. Today, there is a much greater need to live in the open air so people are more inclined to invest not only on the interior of the house but also the outside, which is considered part of the residential panorama, not an accessory or temporary element. 
For us, however, indoor furniture was a natural development, considering that the company started making carpets and a few seats for interiors. So it was a return to our origins.

Many interior design companies are focusing on the outdoors today. Given your many decades’ experience in the sector, what’s your view?
Our idea, which we began to formulate right from the start, has always been connected to the fact that textiles should be used for exteriors; we were the first to realise this development.
Between the idea and being able to really perform well in a harsh environment like the outdoors, much research and hard work had to go into the raw materials and that cannot be done in short time.
We had to do our own research and gain experience, sometimes making mistakes, but we have also learned much more than what is generally known in this world.
Transposing comfort to the outdoors is now something everyone does, but it is a mistake to think it is possible to take an interior design into an external environment by simply changing the fabric.
A design is required. That’s why we have two very distinct collections that originate with different production approaches.

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