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WAN catches up with Mario Nanni
Mario Nanni

Congratulations on your work with la Biennale di Venezia. Could you tell us a bit about what the project involves?

Many thanks. The lighting intended for the Italian pavilion has considered the inputs and the requirements of the Italian architects (more than thirty) who will present their work at the pavilion. The point, the line, the module and the space are the fundamentals of light in which the project is based. I have developed different types of light sources that fuse into a single concept: technical and functional light with light as an artistic object. The idea is to conceive the architectural space and the light as one, using the light only where it’s needed. A narrative and communicative light that highlights, discovers and explains the architectural space and the elements exposed in the pavilion

How did you get into lighting design? Did you ever dabble in any other areas of design or architecture?

My first source of inspirations was the white and blank page of my first day school book, white and empty, silent but ready to collect the thoughts, the ideas, the projects.

When I was young I asked my grandfather: “during the day there is the sunlight during the night there is the moonlight, Which of the two is the more authentic”? “Both”- he answered. With these thoughts and my gradual learning I fell in love with LIGHT, and I came to understand that Light is not just a light fixture, neither is merely design material. Light is

 

game, dream, illusion. My interest and the curiosity for the light and the relationship with architects and international designers did the rest.

I love light, design and experimentation. My main interest is to find every time new challenges in the design of lighting systems. Lately I have designed several ‘objects’ (not necessarily lamps) in which design I have included light.

Among Others:

Sga bello: a white wooden stool measuring 320x320mm, h 460mm with lamp-shaped opening in the centre of the seat for easy handling. It may be lined up to form a comfortable bench or used singly as a nightstand.

Riposami: a modular lighting system with birch wood shapes, available in three different dimensions. The modules are assembled with a special nipple connection system. Riposami is more than a cube - it is a true and proper piece of furniture. This brick in the wall is much more than a bookcase; it is a strongbox of design to store those items which are indispensable for thinking and creating: books, good foods and wines, designer items and instruments, ideas and thoughts...

Blocco: a giant notepad consisting of 5000 sheets of paper glued along the shorter edge with a lamp shape punched out in the centre. The giant pad rests on a base and is 1m tall. A diachronic GU5,3 50W beam light is located beneath the base, complete with transformer and wired plug; light passes through the opening in the centre of the notepad, projecting the shape of the light bulb onto the ceiling. The focal point between the block of paper and the light source is reduced by removing sheets: the outline is modified as it gradually becomes less focused. The pages can be used for drawing, colouring, writing, expressing personal creativity or making plans. Pages that illuminate one by one or that magically combine to reflect light. The notepad can also be used as a table, nightstand or stool.

Over the years you have created many intriguing lighting designs. Where do you take your inspiration from?

To project light I have learned above all to observe it, and the “white page” is my starting point. Innovation and technology are indispensable in my

 

work but I am also interested in the study of old materials and techniques used in the past.

Problem solving and observation are the true sources of inspiration. As well as the start of a new project, the charm of each scenario and its history, the study of materials, grasping the idea of each client…

Are there any works of your own that stick in your memory or that you are particularly proud of?

For me, every project has a meaning, an inspiration, an idea of its own. I face them with the same energy and professionalism, using every time the challenges to increase my knowledge. I learn from the small works as much as the bigger ones and I also learn a lot when I have the opportunity to work with the great master of contemporary architecture.

How important do you believe the relationship is between light and architecture?

For me light is architectural space. A project is not only matter but also light, the light which exalts the materials, colours, depth and sensations. Architecture is a project in light. Experience has taught us that what makes a good lighting project different is the ability to integrate it in the matter where it needs to come to life. Light should participate from the very beginning. It is not merely a possibility; it is a necessity in the creative phases in the mind of the architect. One has to understand how to use structure, materials and forms to place light sources correctly, to utilize light in a way that the final result transmits the uniqueness of the project, the integrity and formal purity. To me light and architecture feed each other, they coexist, make no sense one without the other.

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