Hunn Wai and Francesca Lanzavecchia started their cooperation at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, where they found that they worked well together; and in 2009 they formalised their studio, Lanzavecchia + Wai, when they won an award to pursue a residency at the Danish Art Workshops in Copenhagen.
Their debut Spaziale collection resulting from that residency was launched last year at Milan Design Week.
With the ability to straddle both sides of the globe, the young studio has quickly caught the eye of design-watchers on an international scale.
Their unique collaboration is based on differing areas of interest: Francesca, with the relationships between objects and humans, and Hunn with the collisions and fusions of materials, meanings and forms. The work is fueled by their different backgrounds, knowledge and skill sets.
This year, Lanzavecchia + Wai is involved with an interiors project for a major brand in Milan, and will be showing new designs at Milan Design Week, including the Pile-Up bookcase, Fragmented nesting cabinets, and Lion lamps. Hunn Wai tells us more.
Fragmented nesting cabinets
Fragmented nesting cabinets
What is it like being a partnership of two people coming from different cultural backgrounds and with different design focus?
It’s a complimentary and at the same time contrasting process and experience. And I think we thrive in this dynamic tension.
What do you see as one of the highlights of your portfolio to date?
We are proud of the Spaziale series, a furniture collection constructed from light wooden structures and stretchable fabric skins, that encourage you and your possessions to interact with your interior pieces in a tactile and visual manner. And the practical side of it, to change the colour of the furniture just by dressing it in new clothing, hence lengthening its product lifespan.
The Lion lamps were done in collaboration with Singapore’s last lion dance mask craftsman. How did that come about?
Truth is, we have been trying to find a craft technique unique to Singapore and to create works with it. This was hard to find since the cottage industry here is basically depleted after going into high-technology industries and labour being cheaper elsewhere. It was pure serendipity when I saw him in The Straits Times covering his craft.
We had a crash course in the significance of the mask and the dance, and how it was made – from raw materials to finishing touches. Having the context of the interior environment in mind, we then designed a family of 5 lighting objects that look like contemporary archetypes from afar, but reveal their hand-crafted quality upon closer inspection.
How do you feel about the international interest in your work, in such a short span of time?
While we feel happy that people find what we do interesting and relevant, we still have a long way to go. In Italy, you are still considered a ‘young designer’ before 40! We both have the inherent need to create and express, so when the attention we get transforms into opportunities for design work, that is reward itself.
Lanzavecchia + Wai