Profile: Meneghello Paolelli Associati
By Jo Weaden
This award-winning Italian design studio is reinterpreting the way we use and view bathroom products, combining new technology and new materials with original designs.
Meneghello Paolelli Associati have been designing bathroom products, furniture and lighting since 2005. The young product designers, Sandro Meneghello and Marco Paolelli (below), have worked together since university and say they owe their successful partnership to their mutual respect for each other, as well as their abilities to balance difficult situations. "One of the most difficult things to achieve in work is a long lasting relationship and we are proud that we have been working together for 9 years already!" Meneghello adds that they put their friendship before business.
The studio has achieved a great reputation in the bathroom industry after receiving four Red Dot Awards and collaborating with companies such as Victoria + Albert® (its Amiata bath is above) and Artceram. With new products for V+A® launching next year and a new range for Artceram on the horizon, 2015 is set to be an exciting year for the pair. (Scroll down for a video interview with Sandro Meneghello and Studio editor Kate Burnett at the V+A Baths London showroom, which reveals an insight into their design philosophy.)
After discovering an affinity for bathroom products at university during a washbasin design project, Meneghello says, "We have spent the last next nine years getting to know many products, companies and materials. Now we can say: 'we love bathrooms'!" Both designers find the bathroom an exciting and interesting environment, with scope to view the products associated with the room from a different perspective, experimenting with the plentiful choice of materials, shapes and objects. After working with a range of materials such as ceramics, wood and metal, Meneghello describes ceramics as his favourite material, comparing it to a first love, as it was the first material they worked with. Their initial project for a commercial manufacturer was a cistern for Hidra, and almost ten years later, Hidra is still one of their clients.
A sculptural aesthetic crops up in many of the duo's projects, however their designs always remain distinctive and contemporary. Meneghello and Paolelli tailor each design for their clients, customising the products depending on the production methods, market, target and materials involved. "Every project leads to a different aesthetic. We have our style for sure, but it is mainly on the process that brings the final product out." Meneghello describes their style as "a keen balance between clean lines and character". They are currently working on transferring their style to different products from the furniture to the outdoors, "the biggest challenge in the last year was trying to experience different areas", says Meneghello.
Meneghello Paolelli Associati met for the first time with UK bath manufacturer Victoria + Albert Baths®, at Salone del Mobile in 2012. "We had the chance to see their material for the first time and were impressed by the quality. And we met the people and got a good feeling," said Sandro. Two years later at the same exhibition the 'Amiata' bath was launched.
The product designers have also collaborated with Italian manufacturers Ridea, Artceram, Hidra and more. To achieve different and original products, Meneghello says the first objective is 'to choose a company that share with us the same aims and perspectives', and the second is 'to understand its production, material, target, distribution, price and market'. 'Working with manufacturers who have their own materials and production facilities' is how Marco Paolelli describes the studio's aims and vision. To which Sandro Meneghello adds, 'We want to work with companies that produce high quality and iconic pieces'.
The new 'Amiata' collection combines the use of V+A®'s signature material QUARRYCAST®, with Meneghello Paolelli's contemporary and ergonomic design to form a range of bathroom products. QUARRYCAST® is a combination of finely ground volcanic limestone and resin, it's naturally white, has insulating properties and a high strength to weight ratio. The Amiata bath blends classical aspects with contemporary characteristics, the combination of the convex and concave lines reinforce its modern aesthetics.
Every project leads to a different aesthetic - a keen balance between clean lines and character. We have our style for sure, but it is mainly the process that brings out the final product.
At Cersaie 2014 (the recent international exhibition of ceramic tiles and bathroom furnishings held in late September in Bologna), Meneghello Paolelli Associati launched 'Up', a new urinal that completes the 'Sotto sopra' range, and 'Blues', a sanitary ware collection for Artceram. They also displayed their 'Piano' range for Ridea, a collection of radiators comprising of the models 'move' (centre, below), 'shift' and 'plain'. They have also completed several projects with Italian manufacturer FIMA Carlo Frattini, sold in the UK through Alchemy Design Award. FIMA Carlo Frattini’s Cloud shower is shown in two images above, while its Texture basin (below left) and Sfera showerhead (below right) were also designed by Meneghello Paolelli Associati.
Meneghello Paolelli Associati will be presenting a new project for V+A® in March at the forthcoming ISH event in Frankfurt. The designers say it will be: "something that we have never done before! It is a challenge for us and for them, but we are positive and confident!" They will also be launching 'Pop', a new sanitary range for Artceram.
As for the future of bathroom design, the duo explain the key aspects they look out for are new materials, new technologies and creating different ways in which to experience bathroom products. "We need to see as much as possible so we can broaden our field of inspiration," says Sandro Meneghello. “We never stand still."