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Palomba Serafini Associati: Revitalized Echo

Jan 29, 2017

TLmag spoke to Roberto Palomba about the duo’s SaphireKeramik Silver water basin for Laufen, on show at Spazio Nobile until 19 February.

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Founding their Milan firm in 1994, Ludovica and Roberto Palomba have carved their place within the worlds of interior, exhibit and product design. Working in various applications – such as yachts, storefronts, restaurants and private residences – the design duo has also developed an extensive portfolio of projects and brand strategies. Such endeavours have included Morphing for Kos, the Sun Collection for Zucchetti and numerous contributions to Zanotta. With a human-centered approach, much of the Palomba’s designs have garnered them accolades like a prestigious Compasso d’Oro, Design Plus and Product Innovation Award. TLmag spoke to Roberto Palomba about the duo’s SaphireKeramik Silver water basin, developed for Swiss brand Laufen in line with their Kartell by Laufen collection, a special edition for Spazio Nobile.

TLmag: What is your affinity for silver
Roberto Palomba: Though silver is not gold, the material’s colour is similar to platinum. I like how silver can add a touch of masculinity, technical appeal and preciousness.

Your SaphireKeramik Silver design features a silver finish. What visual, physical or metaphoric treatment does this effect allow you to express?
Such a finish allows for a mutant effect. The material’s skin changes its semantic nature and tells a different story. Silver pigments are fixed to the structure and merge together to become one. Interestingly enough, in contrast to the technical appeal and strength you associate with a metallic material, silver is not robust and durable enough to survive the vitrification in the oven by 1260 celsius. The silver surface has to be applied before a second firing and melts at lower temperatures. It is too low to melt with the glazing, which makes the silver surface far less sturdy and resistible. You have to see this more as an exploration from the design side than a fully technically approved part of the Laufen assortment. This surface treatment suspends these elements in resin. During the firing process, the silver combines with the glossy white ceramic structure base; giving it stability. We’re really fascinated by the expressive power of this technique.

How did your choice of material allow you to adopt a reflective effect?
We wanted to breathe new life into the bathroom. Due to the link with Laufen and the Kartell world, we wanted to get closer to the experimentation of decoration. At this time, the brand was applying metallic finishes to their traditional materials.  It’s a research of “look and feel” of the object within a broader project of “collection.”

In what way can the silver finish and chosen material extend the function of your design?
For this project, there’s a real sense of extended function, but also a will to free ceramics from their essence. Besides the characteristics of this material, we wanted to add an idea of decoration, influenced from outside the bathroom world, that could be treated in a contemporary and powerful way. Laufen has developed many options for different colours and patterns for bespoke visual concepts. With glazing, colours melt at over 1250 celsius, leaving the chemical properties of the extremely hard and hygienic ceramic surface unchanged. This is how SaphirKeramik has been left as a blank canvas for unique designs.

Season III – Silver Edition, design & Silvano Magnone, handmade photography, Spazio Nobile, Brussels (BE), 24.11.2016-19.2.2017, www.spazionobile.com

Installation view of Silver Edition exhibition at Spazio Nobile. Photo: Jörg Bräuer
Installation view of Silver Edition exhibition at Spazio Nobile. Photo: Jörg Bräuer
Installation view of Silver Edition exhibition at Spazio Nobile. Photo: Jörg Bräuer
Installation view of Silver Edition exhibition at Spazio Nobile. Photo: Jörg Bräuer
Installation view of Silver Edition exhibition at Spazio Nobile. Photo: Jörg Bräuer
Installation view of Silver Edition exhibition at Spazio Nobile. Photo: Jörg Bräuer
Ludovica and Roberto Palomba. Photo: Enrico Costantini
Ludovica and Roberto Palomba. Photo: Enrico Costantini
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