In a lecture delivered at the National Design Centre in Singapore, Patrizia Moroso shared her journey as a nonconformist art-supporting director in building one of the design world’s most unique and beloved brands. Yvonne Xu writes.
Patrizia Moroso was in Singapore recently to celebrate the opening of the Moroso Showroom at XTRA and to give a talk at the National Design Centre. By the end of her lecture, in which the art director had given her personal account of the history of the brand to an audience of design students, she had said “I want to make something different” four times.
Moroso titled her talk “Moroso – The Beauty of Design: A Different Approach”. It is clear that the art director places much emphasis on being ‘different’ – a philosophy that she proceeded to illustrate with stories behind key collections, collaborations, and other milestones of the brand.
Moroso started the talk with the company’s founding years. “Imagine Italy destroyed,” she offered. “Smokey. After the war. My mum was 18, my dad was 22. It was 1952. It’s about happiness, colours, new shapes, a break from the past.” Observant of the sensibilities and attitudes of the times (a trait befitting the visionary director and talent scout that she is), she gave summaries of the company’s early decades (1950s was about ‘craftsmanship’; the 1960s and 70s were about ‘industry’). Most of her talk centred on events from the 1980s onwards – the years in which she steered the company and (quite inadvertently, as an avid art and culture lover) made it her Moroso – the experimental, the bold, the irreverent, and therefore, the unique and ‘different’ Moroso.
“I was coming from the art world. I asked them not to imagine a single object, but to imagine a new world and relate it with the future,” she said of her relationships with designers. In her talk, she showed drawings such as Massimo Iosa Ghini’s ‘cartoons’ and Marc Newson’s notes side by side the photos of the end design they had inspired. There were all a total of 190 slides in her presentation, and Moroso had lively anecdotes for all of them. There was an interest in presenting original ideas and the discussion behind each end product – revealing Moroso’s personal involvement and appreciation of each creative process, as well as her keenness to inspire an audience with them.
Moroso also revealed some of her motivations behind taking on unconventional projects, such as her collaboration with Tord Boontje in 2004 and that with Diesel in 2009. On the collaboration with Diesel it was about working with a marketing team that excited her: “It’s totally different to what I was used to – working with a designer, following the designer’s ideas. With the Diesel marketing people, they are studying their clients; the idea comes from market. I love to make things in a different way. I accept it, it’s a new experience.”
Of the Happy Ever After project with Boontje, it was about being able to update William Morris’ ideas in contemporary terms that interested her. She also delighted in giving the design world a shake up: “…that moment in the world, you were not allowed to make one flower in design; not possible, forbidden. So [Boontje] wanted to put flower, in his way. That was for me great, because we could give him the possibility to do it in a great exhibition in Milano. I remember Milano was in shock. Everyone was coming and saying, ‘Oh my god, flowers. Flowers?’ And one year after, the world was full of flowers. Ties, clothes, fabrics, everywhere.”
Moroso is not only a patron of the archetypal artist, but indeed is his peer and ally. It became clear in the chronological walk-through how her relationships with designers in particular are long-standing bonds of friendships rather than mere professional contacts. “Finally her,” she says, recalling the time Patricia Urquiola first made waves. “For me, I was so happy. 1989 – we started working together.” Moroso had old behind-the-scenes photographs to show for these stories – many of which depicting herself, sometimes sleeves rolled up, in factories and showrooms working there and there with designers, artists, and architects.
‘”This is the story of our relationships with designers. People who try to change the world in a positive way with intelligence and passion that always move the artists [towards] beauty… We were asking each other, what is new? Where are the new designers? What are the new designs?” Moroso said at one point, driving home the message of making ‘something different’.