Throughout his career, Fabio Novembre has deftly treaded the line between design and architecture. A new book, published by Electa, chronicles the designer-architect’s most important career milestones, from football club AC Milan’s HQ, to the iconic ‘Nemo’ armchair, created for Driade and designed as an oversized mask embracing the body.
Design critic Beppe Finessi introduces this tome with an essay that draws attention to Novembre’s personal pool of visual references and recurring themes. Nature and anthropomorphic shapes are at the centre of his work, and Finessi explains how Novembre’s personal obsessions have, over the years, become a sort of formal design language that has come to identify his distinctive oeuvre.
Titled Fabio Novembre – design architecture, the book is curiously arranged in order of project size, and offers a record of Novembre’s most memorable works from the past two and a half decades, constantly swinging between architecture, design and interiors. Perhaps symbolically, it opens with a door handle titled ‘love opens doors’, and the project concluding the book is one that hasn’t been finalised yet (‘year: whenever, location: wherever’, reads the caption) – a human-centric idea for a skyscraper – because, as the designer says, ‘in the end we just want to touch the sky with a finger’.
‘F3’ outdoor furniture collection, 2013
A ‘professional amateur’ as he calls himself, has always eschewed traditional design and architecture, instead using colour, familiar forms, optical illusions and popular culture to instill a personality into each of his projects that hasn’t been matched in the industry yet.
Designed by Milanese graphic design studio Leftloft (who, among other things, has spearheaded advertising campaigns for some of the best Italian furniture brands, from Pedrali to Cassina), the book is a sleek all-black tome, its discreet shell strongly contrasting with Novembre’s not-at-all discreet work.
Finessi notices how the designer never shakes hands with the people he meets – ‘he hugs instead’. A gesture, he explains, is a hint at his approach to work, a dialogue with the body that is for him a matter of engaging passion. ‘I cut out spaces in the vacuum by blowing air bubbles,’ writes Novembre in the book’s introduction, ‘I let myself float with the wind, convinced that I am able to seduce everything that surrounds me.’