Imagine, for a moment, a yacht in the middle of your living room, or enjoying your dinner on a sculpture of a nude woman. I'm usually quite conservative when it comes to interior design choices, but upon experiencing the products of interior and yacht designer Gianluca Chiocca, I envisaged my house in his world of bright colours and unorthodox shapes. I spent a day at Chiocca's Milan atelier among boat-shaped couches, bosom-shaped beds and original sketches of desks, shoes and lamps. My diagnosis after an afternoon with Chiocca is that he is a clever and ambitious designer with an eye for detail and touch of brashness. Intuition, creativity and serendipity are the ingredients of his success, with a good measure of mad-scientist thrown into the mix.
Chiocca was born in 1986 in Naples, moving to Milan at the age of 18 to study at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (NABA). Upon earning his bachelor's degree in Design at NABA, he completed a master's degree in Yacht Design at Politecnico. He has always been driven by the motto "if you want, you can!" and all the better if luck is on your side. He was very lucky when, while working on his bachelor's degree, he won the Young? Creative? Chevrolet 2007 competition. Entrants had to create an advertisement for a new model of Chevrolet and his submission, coupled with his passion for visual arts, captured the jury's attention. He was offered a fashion and design internship at the General Motors Design Center in Russelsheim, near Frankfurt, and thus began his career.
A car and yacht fanatic, he opened his own design studio three years ago with the support of his family and with the money he earned from selling some of his interior designs of luxury yachts. Today he's an eclectic 25-year old artist who doesn't care to limit his creativity to a specific area: "Why relate my brand only to certain products, such as couches or beds? Many Italian consumers are open-minded to any kind of novelty in interior design. I like interpreting the reality in my way, modifying the feature and shape of any object, whatever comes to my mind. I think can be innovative in the Italian and, hopefully, foreign markets." Beyond yachts, couches and beds, he also designs lamps, cocktail glasses and sinks for homes and beauty centres. While it's already not hard to recognize his signature style (the female body and implicit sexual references make regular appearances in his works), he's still quite young and without a lot of money to produce his goods. His goal is to find a firm interested in financing the prototype of his recent patented sketch: the Wom-Able table - a mosaic stone statue holding a crystal table in different positions.
His aspirations don't stop there. He has already dipped his toes into the fashion world by creating a collection of women's shoes. His satin and suede shoes with Swarovski rings are sexy, glamorous and elegant. His latest challenge was creating a collection of flat shoes evoking Pop Art: fanciful and colourful shoes made from recycled plastic that combines the joyful side of contemporary art with eco-conscious design.
With Chiocca taking his designs along many tangents, what exactly inspires him? Sometimes it's a flash of ingenuity, other times it's serendipity. "There are some stories that seem to begin by accident, until you find out they were meant to happen," said Chiocca, which was the case for his Mimbarco couch (M’imbarco in Italian means "I'll get onboard"). One day in his show room, he was sketching a yacht when his pencil slipped resulting in an imprecise yacht profile. Instead of throwing the sketch away, he rounded out the edges and soon it evolved from a yacht into a comfortable couch! The evolution of the Mimbarco couch is further touched by fate when one considers that, still at the beginning of his career, Chiocca decided to sell his car to raise the funds necessary to produce the first prototype last January. He then knocked on the doors of hundreds of companies and he finally sold it to the public with his own brand Chiocca Design with the assistance of Mini Divani, a Tuscan firm of Italian artisans in Quarrata, near the town of Pistoia. "I'm proud of myself. After a few months I still haven't bought a new car, but who knows, maybe one day I'll put wheels on the sofa and see what happens!"
|Pop Art flats
(Photograph courtesy of Gianluca Chiocca).
The trendy boat-shaped, leather-covered couch made with polyurethane foam has the same shape as a boat, including a wooden rib forming the hull and a cleat, similar to the one necessary to tie a boat to a dock, on its stern. It's possible to write one's name on the cleat as well, much like naming your personal yacht. Under the couch is an LED RGB lighting system to change the colour and intensity of the lighting while enjoying your light colour therapy. The couch is so comfortable that as soon as I sat down on it I felt the urge to sail away with the wind in my hair.
No doubt, Chiocca also enjoys laying on the irony. Take his Bubble Bed, for instance. Designed with sinuous lines, it reminded me of a woman's silicon breasts or perhaps her bottom (depending on your fantasy). Less explicitly, it could be compared to a cloud, but regardless, Chiocca's metaphor is evident: women all over the world remake their beds every morning, almost as often as they wish to re-do their breasts. Presented at the International Creative Contest 2010 in Milan, a competition promoting emerging designers and architects, Bubble Bed impressed the international audience and Chiocca secured funding to produce a few prototypes. His intent is to arouse emotions through his creations and the choice of the right materials: "When people see my Bubble Bed, with its soft shapes full of polyurethane foam and microfiber, they don't think about a good night sleep, they just can't wait to jump on it!"
Through the centuries, Italian art has been associated with a very classic idea of beauty. But in 2011, perhaps it's time for Italian culture to explore new frontiers of innovation. Who knows, maybe the ancient Romans would have loved to lie on a Mimbarco couch rather than on a triclinium in their temples!
Gianluca Chiocca Design Showroom: Via Francesco Caracciolo 66, Milan, Italy.
Ph. +39.327 9923753
You can order his products on www.gianlucachiocca.com. His satin and suede shoes can be purchased at Real-luxury Merchandising.
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