Having regionally debuted his sleek, ergonomic pieces in the Armani Hotel Dubai Residences within the Burj Khalifa in 2010, Giorgio Armani's furniture range is now available in a new UAE flagship store. Rebecca McLaughlin-Duane talks to the fashion legend about the things he loves and loathes in design.
What was the catalyst for originally launching Armani/Casa?
I have always been interested in extending my design aesthetic from clothing into other areas. My first piece of interior design was the “Logo” lamp, which I created in 1982, but Armani/Casa was launched properly in 2000 in Milan. My objective was to bring my philosophy of style to the world of home interiors and, in doing so, to create the complete concept of an “Armani lifestyle”. I’ve presented my ideal for living, my dream of the perfect environment: an intimate and sophisticated space in which to relax, unwind and entertain guests, surrounded by beauty manifested through furniture and objects for the home.
Can you tell me about the fusion of East and West in this collection?
My vision for everything I create is intensely personal. I do not follow transient trends but instead aspire to timeless style. The elements that have formed this vision have come from different influences. I love the simple geometry of Oriental design, the clean and subtle decorative elements, as well as the use of special finishes. This has merged in my imagination with western traditions of design. Out of this fusion comes my aesthetic; this is very evident in the range, where you will find solid and rigorous shapes, lacquer, natural fabrics and bamboo decorations.
Armani/Casa has opened in Deira. Why is Dubai an important market?
Dubai is an exciting place, a modern and vibrant city full of possibilities, and it was important to be present here with my Armani Hotel. Dubai has a natural showcase for the look of Armani/Casa.
What do you make of traditional Arabic furnishings?
I am a fan of the woodcarving and latticework in traditional Arab furnishings and the use of geometry. I also like the way stained glass is used. I have long admired Oriental Art Deco; I see some similarities between traditional Arabic interior design and this school of design.
From where do you draw inspiration for your furniture collections?
Where I find all my inspiration for fashion – in the world around us: from travel, movies, conversations, books, a casual encounter in the street, photography, a painting I have glimpsed. I also rely on my own experience of living in my homes – Armani/Casa expresses my ideal for the home environment.
How different are the creative processes of designing for Armani/Casa and Armani couture/pret-a-porter?
The two processes are, in fact, surprisingly similar – all require you to take things from the realm of the imagination and translate them into reality. Essentially, with both clothing and furniture, I start with a two-dimensional sketch and then turn this into a three-dimensional object. In all cases, I apply the same philosophy and method – I work with ideas, materials, volume, shape and the manufacturing process.
What’s the most treasured antique you own?
I’m not sure you would describe it as an antique, but I have a painting by Matisse that I love. The moment I saw it, I was struck and wanted to spend time with it.
Can you describe the decor and ambience of a favourite room in one of your homes?
At home in Milan, I have a large living room where I spend most of my time surrounded by objects from my travels. It has comfortable sofas and chairs, and a series of interconnecting spaces. The overall effect is harmony and stillness. This is what I like, to be able to relax and feel safe.
What interior decoration makes you shudder when you come across it?
Fussiness – in interior decoration and in most things, actually.
• Armani/Casa opens today. It is located on Al Ittihad Road next to Gargash Enterprise in Deira, Dubai. Visit www.armanicasa.com or call 04 297 1777