Sophia Small: What experiences led you to design?
Paola Lenti: Color has always fascinated me, even from a very young age. I was drawn to design well before I even knew what that meant. Early in my career, I worked as a graphic designer for many brands but found that to be a bit limiting. I decided to invent a job that would allow me the freedom to explore and express my ideas fully. I consider 1994 to be the year that Paola Lenti, the company, was born. I started by designing Limoges porcelain and glass objects but I’ve always liked working with all kinds of materials, especially fabrics, and it was with the introduction of the wool felt we use to produce rugs and furnishing accessories that we first gained attention.
SS: Where do you find inspiration for your collections?
PL: I can find inspiration in a good book or a work of art, architecture or design from the past. But it can also bubble up in moments of stillness and tranquility. If you learn how to listen to nature, you can discover an inexhaustible wealth of information.
SS: What does sustainability mean to you?
PL: Our approach to design from our earliest days has incorporated our commitment to a very precise set of ecological ethics that, unfortunately, has now become a real necessity. We start by fully understanding and respecting the inherent properties of each material, using only those that are 100 percent recyclable or recycled, industrial or natural (never from animal sources though) and then process them without chemical substances harmful to living beings and the environment.
SS: What was the transition from oudoor to indoor furniture like?
PL: Having begun our entrepreneurial path with indoor accessories such as rugs, we extended our research and experimentation in the last few years to include products and architectural elements, which, layered together, can create a holistic environment, sensitive to its setting. We have brought the comfort of indoor seating outdoors and the easy informality of outdoor living indoors.