Interview with Luca Nichetto: the low-down on a future that is already here

Luca Nichetto

© Neni Studio

Venice, Stockholm and the United States and China, all the way to Australia. A meeting with Luca Nichetto, the designer who compresses geographical distances (and broadens the horizons of design, from fashion to music). 

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The doorbell’s just gone, hang on
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It was UPS with three great boxes of prototypes. This is how it works, everything happens at a distance. I miss meeting people in person, the interchange and the sharing that animate our work but, despite the many deprivations, I have to admit that this situation has bought me back some time. Time for beginnings, reflection and design, albeit crammed between one call and the next. The first of a series of meetings is about to start. Sometimes, by the end of the day, I feel like a television commentator
That marked the end of my chat with Luca Nichetto. With a 80 and a 20: the percentage of the thousands of topics conversations with him always take in, and that of the many duty questions. This time the subject was what’s in the pipeline and he generously filled me in on the latest developments in the studio. Upcoming begins with a constantly-evolving non-stop designer, forced by the hiatus to stay far from Italy for over a year now. However, he set up his Stockholm studio in 2011 , and has had an opportunity to structure his team, bring clients and projects on board, design new collections and … think.
This situation’s a watershed. I don’t think anything will be the way it was, and in some ways that’s a good thing. Events change the course of history and even our work as creatives has been turned on its head. Designers are used to working with restrictions – the brief – and working within constraints, but the pandemic has been an enormous brief that has turned us into designers of our own selves. I’m still optimistic and I’m sure new opportunities will present themselves, but it’s important to be aware of the way the world’s going.
What directions are you taking now? Where are you looking to?
Since I set up my studio in Sweden, the horizons of design have broadened. Naturally, my roots are in Italy, but at the moment 70% of my clients are foreign.
Let’s start with Europe, Austria specifically. You’re the new creative director of Wittmann. Quite a challenge.
I started working as a designer for them, creating a collection that overlapped with the beginning of the pandemic and a change of company management. The new CEO, Alexander Sova, and the Wittmann family liked the way I developed the product, my network and also the work I’d done with La Manufacture and so they offered me this job, formerly done by Paolo Piva. As Piva also taught me at university, it seemed a great opportunity to close the circle.
Andes sofa, Wittmann

Andes sofa by Luca Nichetto for Wittmann

How are you structuring your work?
I’m working on the strategy for the next three years. I’m studying the archive and the current collections, so as to work out what openings there might be in terms of product types that the company hasn’t already produced. I can see incredible potential, as yet untapped. I’ve drawn up a list of designers I’d like to involve; I will make a reasoned choice after I’ve studied it all. Also, the company collaborated a lot with the architectural world in the past – I’d like to reprise this particular angle.
Meanwhile you’re still collaborating with &Tradition, Offecct, et.al and Wendelbo.
Yes. Also with Artifort, Lodes, Barovier&Toso and Rolf Benz, on products that will come out in September. There will also be an extremely prestigious project involving porcelain, too.
Which non-European companies are you working with?
Zaozuo, of course. Also with Bernhardt Design and Rakumba, an Australian client we’re designing some lamps for.
Baia, Metalco

Baia parklet by Luca Nichetto for Metalco

You mentioned La Manufacture: what’s the latest?
We launched the first collection in January 2020, with my products and others by Patrick Norguet, Todd Bracher, Ben Gorham and Emma Boomkamp, amongst others. We’ve now finished the second, along with atelier oï, Neri&Hu, Marc Thorpe, Michael Young, Front and Sebastian Herkner, which will be presented in September. We have developed around 60 products in two years, and these new projects round off La Manufacture’s basic collection. We’ve planned a third line for 2022 – mostly an extension to the range – and I’m also providing shop-in-shop and distribution support. We will also be showcasing an Autumn/Winter collection, which is a real first for the brand.
So not just furniture. What else is on the boil?
Fashion, lifestyle, interior: I like diversifying. We are collaborating with a vegan company in New York on a range of women’s bags; I’m designing my first musical instrument; I’ve been invited by imm Cologne to be part of the Das Apartment HAUS, in January 2022. We’re also working on a retail project in China with Mlily, a mattress company – it’s a pilot of a network of 800 retail outlets. I’m also very pleased to announce that we are putting together a monograph to celebrate the first twenty years of the studio. It will be published next year.
Onde, Gandia Blasco

Onde Sofas and coffee table by Luca Nichetto for Gandia Blasco

Allié , La Manufacture

Allié stool by Luca Nichetto for La Manufacture

Antigua and Acacia, Wittmann

Antigua cupboard and Acacia desklamp by Luca Nichetto for Wittmann

Aloe Chair, Weldelbo

Aloe Chair by Luca Nichetto for Weldelbo

Paradise Bird Bed, Wittmann

Paradise Bird Bed by Luca Nichetto for Wittmann

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6 July 2021