There were three important points that Italian architect and interior designer, Federico Delrosso imparted on the small crowd of Egyptian fellow designers seated in comfortable stuffed sofas, arranged facing a screen that elegantly glided images from his portfolio.
Dogtas, the furniture company that just opened in Heliopolis, hosted a breakfast and invited Delrosso to speak on his experience, answer questions and lead an informal discussion before he heads off to New York to beef up his business in his office there. In the end, the forty-or-so designers included Delrosso in their problem-solving.
On how to achieve success, Delrosso answers without hesitation that the first step is knowing who you are as a firm. Establish your style and be “coherent” – establish your belief system if you will.
You have to be quite stringent at first. Whenever you start a project, find three or so major points that you stick to throughout the whole process. With experience, a designer will know where to be flexible: what small points will not affect the overall experience.
Someone asks “But what if the client is showing you samples that aren’t your style?”
Delrosso replies with a story “I redesigned the interior of an industrialist couple in their 60’s” he said in his soft, friendly tone. Although the couple had paintings by important artists, their surroundings were quite ordinary - especially that they are so wealthy.
“But I did something very modern for them and they loved it! They had me over for dinner to thank me and they said that it changed their lives! They had more energy. And this is a couple in their 60’s!”
He gave an “out,” however, in light of the reality that sometimes a designer cannot get their client to embrace their vision.
“In that case…” he lets the question hang in the air “you just can choose not to take the contract.”
A stunning conclusion, but he says “you can spend a year working on something that you aren’t excited about, and lose an opportunity to work on something that the client is really on board” he emphasizes “to work on something else.”
Sensible and passionate.
Photo: Dahlia Ferrer
Delrosso started his talk on trends by immediately dispelling the idea of fast “trends” in the architectural and interior design realms. Trends last for years and take time to change, in contrast to fashion that can produce very quickly, he explains. Society, politics, economics. These affect all areas of design. And art, he says with joy.
On the current trend, he repeats that people feel a need recently to return to something “real, comforting.” Simple, open spaces are important. No more plastics.
This resounds with his style. Delrosso’s grandfather worked in wood, which he enjoyed when he was younger.
Are you a stylist or an interior designer?
Buying furniture and placing it isn’t the full extent of interior design, Delrosso clarifies. As an architect, he envisions the space as a whole, all at once: the exterior, the space that he can create inside as well as the furnishing. Some people don’t get this.
Ahram Online surveyed informally the designers in the group and found that about half of them said that 80-90% of their clients (presumably mostly in Egypt) do actually have them work on the larger concept of interior designer versus just the stylist mentality. Only one group of 3-4 said that a mere 65% of their clients want them to just place furniture.
One of the designers, Zeina Magdy, made an interesting cultural observation: “Clients are poor in imagination. The way they show their wealth is by having more things. They have a space and they fill every inch of it with stuff.” Simplicity isn’t appreciated, she laments.
Delrosso did comment, however, that with a revolution people will likely want to break with tradition and try something new, fresh and modern – especially the youth.
Photo: Dahlia Ferrer
Federico Delrosso’s architectural firm most recently made the shortlist for the Interior Design magazine, Best of Year 2012 award and won two honorary awards in December. His book is due out in May.
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