La Lucchesia, which since the eighteenth century has been a travel destination and source of inspiration for many illustrious figures, from Carducci, D’Annunzio and Puccini to the English Shelley, Keats and Byron, has also been a driving force of creativity for our Elisa Pardini, ’emblazoned’ architect and interior designer who moves with confidence and determination between England and Italy, after opening her own architecture studio in London eight years ago.
But Elisa is so proud of her Italianness that today she has decided to open her second office in her home town of Lucca, to return and breathe that familiar air of art, sun, affection and good food.
The architect Elisa Pardini is a young career woman, and while it seems obvious to me, deepening our conversation, how determined and capable she is, I also notice that her style is full of unconventional ideas that she turns into “recognizable” projects every time. Her signature is already on many accredited architecture magazines and her most original works bounce on the Internet from one site to another.
“Dri Dri ‘(an ice cream parlor), her most famous work and inspired by her Versilia, was also in the final at the AJ Small Project Competition, organized by the Architects Journal. ‘Butter and Sage’ (pasta factory and restaurant) instead won best project in Archilovers and was then published in Domus. And again, ‘The Italian Job’ (the first Italian pub in London serving Italian artisan beers) selected by publishers of the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards. In addition, both ‘The Italian Job’ and ‘Dri Dri’ were selected in an IDN publication in which they spoke of the best studies for environmental brand design. But there are many others.
Elisa, tell us how you began
“I graduated in Rome at the University of Roma Tre in Architecture very quickly, and during those years I worked as assistant set designer on the set of great film productions, something that I think helped me a lot, opening my vision to atmospheres and points of view. And then, immediately after university, I worked for a year with the architect Fuksas in his studio near Campo dei Fiori (Piazza del Monte di Pietà), another important training experience. Then from Rome I flew to London, after having passed an interview with Foster. I had sent my resume to the greatest architectural firms, from Foster, to Renzo Piano in Paris, to OMA in Rotterdam, but the London atmosphere had seduced me more, and so in 2008 I started my greatest professional adventure. In Foster + Partners we did not have budget problems, we used the best materials on the market, we were 1200 architects divided into many work teams. ”
“I worked at Foster + Partners for two years and then, on an airplane flight from Pisa to London, I found my first client. He commissioned me a great restructuring job, and so, once I landed in London, I decided to make the big jump: I gave in my notice at Foster and I set up on my own. In London, opening a company costs only one pound. I called it ‘Elips Design’. For 4 years I worked alone. And for four years now I’ve been working with my partner, who is also my partner in life. And the company has our two surnames, Pardini and Hall. ”
How much did being Italian count?
“A lot, for the quality and beauty. It is true that if you grow up in a beautiful place like Italy, you develop an aesthetic sense that conditions you. And then Italy is full of raw materials that have no equal in the world. Just think that from Foster + Partners we imported marbles, stones and glass only from Italy. In London they use a lot of drywall. But it is true that abroad there is more work, the economy moves and everything is so fast. ”
You chose to move back to Italy
“The truth is that I would prefer to live in my city, next to my family, to my loved ones and today with internet the physical place where you are is relative. From London we have been commissioned a job in Boston. And also many foreigners have their summer residences in the Lucca countryside . ”
How has Made in Italy changed over the course of your ten years of experience?
“In the imagination of foreigners it has not changed, for sure. What has changed, in Italy, is that we are starting to export new ceramic materials that look like marble and I believe instead that we should continue to focus on quality. As Italians we have much to give. And then we should invest in craftsmanship, which combined with the excellence of raw materials produces a union that is unrivaled in the world. ”
You are young, but you have already had a lot of experience. What would you recommend to those who are starting now?
“To stay at university the bare minimum and try to have as many important experiences as possible. Working in large studios makes you learn quickly, and you become good. And then to be focused on the goal to be achieved. You have to work hard, but commitment always rewards. There are no shortcuts that bring true satisfaction. And then come back, because Italy needs to cultivate its own excellences and also to enjoy them. ”
“Architecture influences people’s lives and affects their mood. So my focus is to make plans for public places, such as museums, for example, where I can make people feel better. ”
Chapeau, Elisa !!!!