Known for her exceptional work ethic and prolific output, Paola Navone has been a prominent figure in A&D since the mid 70s. With a degree from the Turin Polytechnic School, she focused on architecture until re-locating to Milan and immersing herself in design.
Nordkapp Armchair for Baxter
In Milan, Navone was part of the Alchimia Group, working with luminaries Alessandro Mendini, Ettore Sottsass Jr., and Andrew Branzi. Among such free-thinkers, Navone cultivated an aptitude for innovation and a disregard for convention-an ethos that shows in her product design: "It was crazy, what we did, working like mad to produce the utterly useless, but it was a catalyst. It produced a lot of energy and gradually, much later, our inventive thinking has been absorbed by industry."
Self-designed kitchen at her home in Milan
Now well into the 21st. century, no one would call her output "useless." Intriguing and conceptually challenging, yes, but certainly not lacking in pragmatics.
Strada Stone Top Dining Table 180 for Janus et Cie
In spite of their elusive appearance, among Navone's most ubiquitous designs is the Ghost Series of sofas, poufs, chairs, and beds--simplistic, comfy, and "snug," Ghost is only ghostly when dressed in basic white linen. Yet it easily dis-robes and re-dresses as something fancier and more visible, like brocade fabric.
Ghost 1 Collection for Gervasoni
Kiki Cordless is a cool, contained portable LED lamp that also has intimations of a friendly phantasm. A rechargeable battery with a 5-hour life gives this lamp nearly limitless utility: "on your terrace, in the garden, on the lawn for a romantic evening, to illuminate a nighttime party, wherever you want..." Kiki's rotomolded polyethylene diffuser gives it a contemporary look-a clean and cool updating of the classic camp lantern.
Kiki Cordless for Martinelli Luce
Here's another one for Gervasoni: The InOut Daybed 869. This timeless piece may have been born in 1968 or 2018, such is its enduring aesthetic. InOut features a durable aged teak frame woven with gray HDPE. The back is adjustable and the castors are made of resilient Teflon.
InOut Daybed 869 for Gervasoni
Navone's Pinecone Suspension Lamp is every bit as intricate as its namesake. A welded metal frame is infused with molten, mouth-blown glass, then hand-spun, baked, and cooled to create an ingenious facsimile of the humble pinecone-yet perfectly faceted and crystalline like a precious gem. This is a most unusual and arresting pendant, belying Navone's avowed dedication to the stuff of the everyday.
Pinecone Suspension Lamp for Fontana Arte
Lastly, LC53 is a streamlined night table made of American Walnut. Simple and simply striking, LC53 has all the makings of an icon. The design is precise; the size is constrained; and the aesthetic is sharp and scintillating. Aficionados of exacting modern design will definitely take notice.
LC53 Night Table for Letti and Co.
According to a recent interview, Navone's aesthetic and artistic philosophy is aptly characterized with the Thai phrase, "tham ma da." Directly translated as "everyday," in Navone's conception it means to "find new, extraordinary uses for seemingly cheap, standard, or utilitarian things." While I see nothing "cheap" or "standard" in her product design, I definitely concur with the idea of re-envisioning, or "re-seeing." Navone's work provides a fresh perspective on the familiar and mundane-elevating the habitual or taken-for-granted into the realm of tactile, functional art.
Tree-Form Staircase with bent-metal steps
Sofa with Matching Side Table
In addition to product design, Paola Navone has been an architect, interior designer, restaurant and retail designer, lecturer, and teacher. She has designed for some of the world's most prominent manufacturers including Driade, Swarovski, Casamilano, Alessi, Knoll International, Cappellini, and Roche Bobois. She is the recipient of the Osaka International Design Award. Navone's website is beyond minimalist. For a bit more insight, check out this interview and photo essay.