For Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi, design has always been a meeting of minds. Partners in life and work, the two architects have undertaken a wide range of projects since establishing their eponymous studio GamFratesi in 2006.
Just at this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan, they launched the Kite chair for Porro, designed the Louis Poulsen booth, worked on the window display for the Hermès boutique on Via Montenapoleone and participated in an installation mounted by Elle Decor Italia.
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“You’re very much alone when doing the project—Salone is about meeting people and it’s very interesting for us to see their reaction,” says Enrico. Over coffee at Porro’s flagship store in Milan’s Durini district, we speak about their shared point of view and how this manifests itself in their pieces.
How would you describe your work as a design duo?
GamFratesi (GF) I would say it’s complex and cross-cultural. Our studio is based in Copenhagen, so we’re influenced by the Scandinavian way of living. But design-wise, we’re not purists. What’s good is that we have the ability to be quite naturally international. Italian design can be too formal sometimes, while Scandinavian design can be too minimalist. It benefits the company to have an open mind; the result is quite interesting.
Walk us through your creative process.
GF While we’re both architects, furniture has always been the connection between us. The first step is always a long conversation, where our imagination just flows. We then translate this into hand-drawn sketches. Essentially, we don’t know who did this line or that detail. Then we proceed to the computer drawing and modelling, which is the methodic way.
Prototyping is an important phase for us. When we work with a brand like Porro, it’s done by the company, but we like working with our hands because it’s a chance to learn in a very intense manner. It also helps the company get to the visual impression that we want. During this time, the main issue is identifying a problem before you find it in production. Sometimes, a problem can become a good thing, though, and evolve to become a defining element in the design.
How did the journey with Porro begin?
GF We choose brands that embrace our philosophy. We started working with Porro three years ago; we designed a box for its 90th anniversary, and then developed a chair and day bed later on. It’s not just about the products, but also about the relationship and the collaboration process—especially for a studio as small as ours, where we are personally invested in each endeavour.
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Tell us about the Kite chair.
GF We wanted to create something informal and we had this idea of having a pillow that’s squeezed onto a frame—sort of like a piece that embraces you. This is a new exploration for Porro, as well as a chance for us to introduce softer elements. Textile and upholstery is something we’re really interested in, and we believe in introducing softness into a home.
Your work is timeless but always has a twist. Do you think you have a signature?
GF There is a desire to have an element that stands out and communicates with the user, but that detail shouldn’t scream. Furniture is something you have to have for a long time. If it’s too strong, it’s hard to live with it.
This story was adapted from Singapore Tatler Homes August-September 2017.