Stefano Barrale & Silvia Mattana
Please tell us something about yourself: who you are, your past and what made you approach the world of architecture and design
Stefano was born in Cagliari on the 30/12/1984 and still lives there today. After graduating from high school, he focused on and developed a passion for architecture and design, participating in various initiatives including FestArch2007, until his graduation in Construction Engineering and Architecture. During his time at university he worked with tourist building management companies. His experience with national and international clientele led him to hone relational and considerable professional skills in the sector; he has developed a high level of professional independence in solo and team projects. He would like to work with other professionals in the sector of architectural planning to broaden his contacts and produce something new and innovative.
Silvia was born in Cagliari on the 17/08/1984, as a university student she participated in the Erasmus exchange program in Portugal and in various international workshops focused on architectural planning, gaining insight into different cultures. Upon graduating in Construction Engineering and Architecture, she completed several professional experiences abroad. From 2012 to 2014 she worked with the design studio S.P.I. Studio Progetti Integrati. A keen observer of reality, she strives to represent it in every possible way: pencil, pens and colours, which inspired her, together with a great passion for reading and illustration, to set up a blog in which she collects life and travel stories. Later, thanks to the Advanced Master Archviz, she developed an interest in Computer graphic design. As a university student she acquired another tool: an analogue photo camera. The wait inside the darkroom enables her to rediscover realities captured in shots and often leads to the uncovering of new details.
Silvia and Stefano have been friends for a long time and decided to unite their experiences out of curiosity and in search of a challenge. They undertook a new collaboration which has culminated in their participation in the Restile2015 competition. The experience is highly interesting as it has brought them into contact with a new and fascinating world.
Do you feel you have a specific style?
No, we don’t think we’ve developed our own particular style, either individually or as a team. We’d say that we follow a number of guidelines that become clear for each project and identify ways of experimenting with shapes and meanings. During the project process, we follow our first impressions, filtering through our studies and enhancing them with our enthusiasm. The approach to both architecture and design projects is definitely based on controlling shape through geometry, developing what shapes - sometimes very simple, elementary shapes – suggest to us as they engage with light and shade, introducing complex elements and meanings into settings. It’s the development of shape that produces interesting volumes. We observe reality, society and the changes taking place around us, which we then analyse, re-elaborating the concepts to place them at the service of our projects, without necessarily feeling bound by a particular style.
Who are the influences you look to in the world of design?
Perhaps because part of our studies involved engineering, we’re attracted by the Italian design of Carlo Scarpa, with its in-depth study of detail, which in itself gives shape, and also by the clean-cut lines and natural materials of northern European designers, such as Arne Jacobsen and Alvar Aalto. We were won over by their clean-cut, luminous, calm, relaxed style, in which form is at the service of function, and where objects, furniture and homes take on value based on their efficiency. We believe another influence should be the world around us, present in which are elements of design that influence our lives without us even realising it.
What’s your opinion on present-day architecture and design?
For some time now, architecture and design have been an integral part of a global market, which requires innovation starting from functionality and moving towards sustainability. We work in a society that is evolving constantly, where projects must be able to keep pace with these changes, without altering the balance with the existing situation and context. As regards architecture, which is closer to our experience, it should be redefined as a transformation of what has already been built. It is a good thing to move beyond totally ex-novo construction processes, because the area we operate in is already profoundly marked by human intervention, which may be approaching saturation point.
Where does your inspiration come from?
We observe our surroundings and the context, interpreting the links it has or may establish with the project, then we identify the critical points that sometimes emerge from the initial analysis, moving on to define the transformations, starting out from the resources concealed within each place, space or object. So the initial sensations set in motion the strictly project-related questions, which we then compare with the requirements of the competition and the client to develop them into concrete, feasible, real ideas.
How did you find out about the contest Restile?
We found out about Restile2015 thanks to Europaconcorsi, while we were looking for an interesting competition that would allow us to put our new collaboration to the test.
Why did you decide to take part?
We were immediately drawn to the competition upon reading the regulations because the theme was different from usual architecture competitions. The clarity and exhaustive information on the Mirage site enabled us to approach a theme of which we had little experience, such as the design of porcelain stoneware tiles. The generous deadline for project submission also encouraged us to participate in the competition as we felt we would be able to manage it alongside existing commitments.
Did you find the experience interesting/stimulating?
The experience was really interesting, because we came into contact with a fascinating world we weren’t familiar with. In addition, working together, comparing and combining our ideas proved a positive experience.
What expectations do you have?
We want to continue with the collaboration we’ve embarked on, comparing our own experience with others so as to enhance our cultural and professional background and undertake new collaboration projects with important companies such as Mirage.
Where did you take your inspiration from, and what are the characteristics of your project?
A reinterpretation of the weft of fabrics was the starting point the idea for our project was based on. This was subsequently complemented by a parallel study of metals, specifically magnetite, present in nature in the form of octahedron crystals, which when flattened out led to the dividing up of the surface of the Magnetic Plugs into a grid formed by triangles, reminiscent of the weft of a fabric. We identified three different surface designs that make up the pattern of the triangles, the combination of which creates a visual effect able to mimic the different degrees of attraction dictated by the distance from the magnetic element. The distribution of the three patterns in the grid led to the definition of three tile modules, which will have a rectangular size of 30x60cm, with a nominal thickness of 0.9cm and a colour range of four shades. The three modules can be combined into a variety of compositions; depending on how they are arranged, the observer’s attention will be focused on different points of the setting they are found in. Magnetic Plugs is a collection suitable both for large areas and household settings.