A fresh approach in considered, practical and intuitive interior design has been central to the development of Heineken’s ‘Open Design Explorations' project. As well as a working knowledge of contemporary nightclub culture, of course. Young talent combined with experience to explore the ‘science of social engagement’ and conceive a pioneering interpretation of the ‘social space’. The interior design team was encouraged to work on the notion of creating unexpected, vibrant future concepts, and collaborate in the production of a boundary-pushing ‘concept club’, which would be unveiled as a live event during the Milan’s Salone Del Mobile, 2012.
During its global search for hot young design talent in the specialized interior discipline, Heineken discovered Kiwi design student Lee Gibson and hooked him up with mentor Fabio Rotella, an Italian architect with vast experience in industrial design and design management. Here, we catch up with the two Heineken collaborators...
Designer Lee Gibson
Lee is a designer originally from New Zealand, but is now living and studying at Parsons New School of Design in New York City. He is a self-styled multi-disciplined talent, interested in ‘all things design’, with a particular emphasis on design teaching. Lee is currently actively engaged in consultancy for clients in the realms of footwear, furniture, and interior architecture.
Wallpaper*: Who or what has been your inspiration?
Lee Gibson: Art installations and exhibitions here in New York, especially ones of a spatial nature. I was also heavily inspired by origami - the art of paper folding - and also the work of artists and designers that deal with anamorphic images and spaces. The Creators Project (New York City) was also a huge inspiration as it allowed me to see and experience some amazing spaces and ideas on a large scale.
What is your favourite nightclub?
LG: I really enjoy bars/clubs that are able to create a series of different atmospheres within an interior that unfolds as your night builds and progresses. The Matterhorn Bar in Wellington, New Zealand is a great place as it allows you to move around and select a space based on your mood, who you are with, and how your night is developing.
Tell us about your input into Heineken’s concept club
LG: I have been working on the interior design for the space, and have been actively involved throughout the entire process, traveling to Milan to collaborate directly with the design coaches and develop my overall idea/strategy for the club space. I designed an overall layout that created zones within the space that could be programmed with different functions and roles over the duration of the design fair.
What is your ambition?
LG: I really enjoy being able to move between scales of design that include architecture, interiors, product, and graphics, so to switch between these modes or disciplines is very important in my work.
Mentor Fabio Rotella
Heineken design mentor Fabio Rotella is an Italian architect and designer who founded Milanese design practice Studio Rotella in 1996, following a five year collaboration with Atelier Mendini.
Having trained at the Milan-based Domus Academy, Rotella now draws on his wide skill-set to provide strategic creative consultancy for a wide variety of projects. He’s worked as creative director across Europe and Asia for the tile manufacturer Bisazza and in his capacity as art director for Light & Light has been entrusted by the Ministry of Culture to design Museo Italia in Tianamen Square, Beijing.
Rotella’s versatile touch has also been sought out by some of the world’s premium luxury brands, including an exhibition at Palazzo Corsini in Florence for Breil D&G Time, a pop up exhibition in Milan to launch the new Citroen DS3, and a penthouse inside the Armani Building in New York.
Fabio Rotella began his association with Heineken back in 2004, designing display stands, advertising spaces and objects.
Wallpaper*: What is the best club you’ve ever been to?
Fabio Rotella: Probably the Supper Club in Milan. It lets you live total experiences each time, as the space constantly changes through technology.
What is the most important element of a club for you?
FR: It’s vital that environment, lighting and the space all must work together to give the clubber a good impression of the club as they enter and lift their mood. All the elements must combine to connect clubbers to come together and feel part of a group.
What annoys you about nightclub design?
FR: It really frustrates me when a nightclub has been designed to be expansive. I think extreme volume and bad space distribution results in a club that lacks atmosphere. Queuing is just frustrating for everyone.
What has been the most exciting, recent development in nightclub design?
FR: Definitely the use of light and lasers that contribute to make the clubbing experience more complete. Nightclubs must welcome, amaze, uplift and aggregate clubbers.
In your experience, how does nocturnal culture differ globally?
FR: I do not think there are differences between nightclub culture in different countries. As nightclubs are targeted at young adults, I believe the design concept can be the same all over the world because technology has allowed them to think and communicate in a global way.
What sort of young design talent were you hoping to discover for Heineken’s Open Design Explorations project?
FR: Designers with strong character and will, curiosity, humility, creativity and culture. I expect young designers to come to the project with many ideas on what a concept nightclub will require. When I started my career the most important things a designer needed was ideas, character and will - these are just as important now. The quantity of new designers increases each day but I wanted to find someone who is truly dedicated to design and not someone who is just attracted to it because they think the creative world is fashionable.