Letting the materials speak for themselves. A conversation with Massimo Castagna
Massimo Castagna shares Interni’s attention to, knowledge of and passion for research of materials, as the key to designing environments that reflect and respond to the ever-different needs of the end client.
An architect and interior designer, teacher and consultant for some of the best interior brands, over the course of his long career Massimo Castagna has developed a language that revolves around materials, be they wood, stone, or metal.
The – more or less readily visible – emotional aspect of each artefact is conveyed above all by the stuff it is made of, as our desire to touch and caress objects is clear evidence of. “Whether I am working on an item for mass production or on the interior of a house that I’ve designed,” Castagna explains, “I like to be open to a range of suggestions. The way to achieve this is by letting the materials speak for themselves, emphasising as much as possible their intrinsic qualities”.
Massimo Castagna’s important contribution to the birth of the Design Experience is the result of the many projects the designer collaborated on with Interni over the years in different parts of the world. From Saudi Arabia to Kazakhstan, via the United States, each of these locations presents very different – sometimes extreme – environmental conditions. This is why detailed knowledge of the properties of each material is so important, such as how they might behave in the highest temperatures and with the passing of time, anticipating how they will age.
Castagna’s knowledge is fascinating and in-depth, and celebrates the extraordinary qualities of the Italian artisan tradition. With the help of Interni, he has embarked on a journey – an “experience” – to discover the very best of Italian craft and make it available to designers and end clients.
“We are lucky,” says Castagna, “to have an artisan heritage of such a high level, which is able to apply extremely specific techniques. In artisan workshops, we can find incredible things that industry, by its nature, cannot use. An almost alchemical ability to transform matter”. Castagna’s work is like that of the researcher who, following the memory of techniques and treatments that have now disappeared, tracks down the last artisan who is still able to put them to work. A recovery that isn’t just technical, but also cultural. It lets the material speak for itself.
“Without forgetting,” Castagna adds, “that imperfection is a quality”.
“This is a passion I’ve always had and that I have been putting into practice throughout my professional career. I’ve been exploring this theme for twenty years, whether I’m designing a piece of furniture or an interior: how to bring out the expressive potential of the material. Certainly form and design are essential, but it’s the power of the material that generates unique sensations”. Massimo Castagna
Massimo Castagna’s stories of how micro-sandblasting can change the look and colour of stone, or how the reactivation of obsolete techniques can give brass frosting a particular sensitivity to the touch, celebrate the extraordinary qualities of the Italian artisan tradition. He infuses the aesthetic and patina of artefacts born from ancient techniques, repositories of traditional knowledge, into his furniture designs.
This same philosophy is also behind the designer’s bespoke interior projects. Exclusive solutions follow the example of the great masters of the past, who left their mark on every piece of work, with furnishings and materials designed down to the smallest detail.