Cristian Gentile & Elisa Lo Castro
Please tell us something about yourself: who you are, your past and what made you approach the world of architecture and design
I entered the world of design almost by accident: I always thought I wanted to be an architect, a “serious” one who designs buildings ... but it wasn’t to be! Events led me towards the design of items instead of houses. My job revolves around turning someone’s dream into a tangible product. I think that the design of a piece of furniture can play a part in improving our quality of life; the challenge for its designer is to continue to renew it day after day and to continue the pursuit of new forms of quality.
I immediately started exploring the world of furniture design when I finished university, and I joined a design studio that gave me the opportunity to get a better understanding about the processes involved in the industrialisation of a product. Since the start of my career, I have always tried to approach my design projects based on my personal skills, trying to grow and absorb everything offered by a challenge on a personal and professional level.
I think a dynamic approach to work is a key component of this profession, you have to continually try out new solutions that may eventually broaden your horizons, even penetrating the lesser-known areas of design, in order to achieve a more personal and innovative vision.
Elisa Lo Castro
I love working with colour and playing around with the possible combinations of colours and materials, even though I firmly believe that simplicity is the essential element of good design. I might be a fan of all things digital but I’m not capable of focusing properly on an idea until I have drawn it out on paper first. I am interested in things that are “different” and I’m constantly on the lookout for what’s new, even if the way I express myself is unquestionably a reflection of my beloved Sicily, enrooted in its stone and sea. In the future, I hope to improve my technological expertise so I will be able to meet new demands and feed my creativity, bringing the spirit of contradiction that is part of my personality with me.
Do you feel you have a specific style?
Like everyone else. But we try to manoeuvre it to fit in with the various environments. Our work requires us to adapt to different lifestyles and price ranges, but we have to remain true to ourselves on every occasion.
Who are the influences you look to in the world of design?
We try to learn from Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto, the Eameses, Achille Castiglioni, Bruno Munari and Enzo Mari, because we love their projects. However, we try to keep up to date with the new trends and with emerging contemporary figures whose experiments lead to new shapes, materials and means of communication, which sweep through all the currents, from Japanese minimalism to Nordic style.
What’s your opinion on present-day architecture and design?
What really appeals to us about contemporary style is the attempt to reduce material waste to a minimum, and this presents a challenge if the main objective is to achieve beauty. Similarly, we admire architecture that attempts to use local resources and create energy-efficient buildings.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Our work involves designing furnishings, so we need to study to keep up to date and in contact with the companies we work with, so that our solutions are feasible from an industrial point of view. We take our inspiration from everything around us, from our training and from our different ways of seeing and interpreting things and the world around us.
How did you find out about the contest Restile?
We’re always on the lookout for new challenges and experiences, and we try to keep abreast of developments by keeping an eye on the classic web portals dedicated to contests. That’s where we found out about it.
Why did you decide to take part?
When we read the competition announcement we were immediately enthusiastic at the idea of taking part in a design contest that wasn’t focused on the classic furnishing object. Since we’re accustomed to dealing with the furnishing sector, we found the project subject an appealing, original challenge.
Did you find the experience interesting/stimulating?
We threw ourselves into this adventure with enthusiasm, and we were stimulated and excited by the challenge presented by a project regarding a furnishing element that is such a common feature in our living culture as the tile. Our interest was immediately awakened by the idea of giving a new appearance to the regular, squared shape, seeking a pattern able to make it unique and versatile.
What expectations do you have?
We hope to make increasing inroads into this sector, trying to fully understand how product industrialisation works, in order to bring an innovative new slant to it.
Where did you take your inspiration from, and what are the characteristics of your project?
We’ve tried to bring a different perspective to the use of ordinary paving, seeking to enhance the visual effect with a view to installation. This has given rise to Penelope, a complex pattern that alternatively thins and thickens out, offering the chance to develop specific themes for each type of environment. We’ve worked to produce a tile with an attractive shape and reflections, perceived differently by the user depending on the position of the light. Our aim was to concentrate on the end result, attempting to create a tile that could be widely used and marketed.