Our partners at CovetED Magazine had the pleasure and opportunity of interview Carlo Donati, one of the greatest Italian designers of his generation. Based in Milan, Carlo Donati is an Italian legend. Most of his design projects have been published in the international press, such as the most influential interior design magazines and books of architecture in Italy and all over the world.
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The Carlo Donati Studio’s work is mostly focused on different types of interior design projects that highlight the power of fine craftsmanship techniques. Surrounded with one of the world’s best craftsmanship culture, this brand-new furniture collection with Essential Home was the perfect opportunity to combine two of his many passions: craftsmanship and a modern approach of the mid-century style.
Whether it is residential design, villa or even commercial projects the Italian design studio has become one of the most renowned experts not only in Italy but also worldwide. It’s founder, Carlo Donati was born in Zibello (Parma) in 1965 and studied architecture at the Politecnico of Milan where he graduated in 1992. Passionate about the world of design and all of its creative possibilities, Carlo has featured a strong aesthetic and sense of beauty from a young age. “Memories of details in my friends’ houses or in hotels during family vacations have monopolized my imagination since early childhood. Since then, beauty to me represented a matter of proportions, colours and details”, he explained.
During his twenties, the Italian designer started working for historic architectural firms in Milan, such as Studio BBPR and Gregotti. A few years later, in 1995, Carlo Donati moved to New York to be the consultant architect of one of the most famous luxury design groups in the world, also known as Versace. “Though his style was different from mine and rather decorative, I found his creativity and taste for colours very inspiring.” During that time, the Italian interior designer was challenged with the renovation of Gianni Versace’s townhouse and the historic Vanderbilt Mansion, the main flagship store on Fifth Avenue.
After working as a consultant for Gianni Versace, the Italian firm worked on the image or other distinguished brands, like Aldo Coppola, Liberty of London, Linea più- A2A, Stybiella and Colefax & Fowler. Currently, the Studio Donati is the responsibility of the artistic direction of the Slowear fashion brand and they are developing the new retail concept and design of several stores and showrooms not only across Italy but also worldwide.
In 1996, Donati decided to create not only his own firm “Carlo Donati Studio”, but also the “Farnese Contract” with Adriano Donati and Massimo Avanzini, that operates as a general contractor, working with the most successful design studios. “In every project, I design custom made furniture, both for residential or retail projects because I believe that each work requires special attention to furniture details”, explained the Italian designer.
With a peculiar contemporary signature style that features deep roots in the past, Donati loves to search for inspiration in the architectural landmarks and Italian design references of the post-war modernism (like Gio Ponti, Osvaldo Borsani, Franco Albini), as well as the magic abstract scenography by Bob Wilson, the interiors in Stanley Kubrick’s or Quentin Tarantino’s movies. In the world where the guidelines are timeless elegance and strong character, the designer likes “to contaminate the design with details which can be both precious or low-cost budget but always elegant and peculiar creating unexpected contrast.” His most recent inspirations were the famous Korean movie called “Parasite” by Bong Joon-ho that won the 2020 Oscar.
In every design project, no matter the style (contemporary, mid-century or modern), Carlo Donati’s minimalist approach is always contaminated by chromatic and graphic suggestions inspired by the theme chosen in the planning process. “If I think about all the projects we did, the best results always came from synergy and a strong feeling with the client. This friction can be a source of creativity and can bring us to better solutions”, said the interior designer. Obsessed with perfection and attention to every detail, the Italian designer loves to use both artificial and natural light to emphasize volumes and perspectives of his design project.
For Carlo Donati, every project is unique, so it’s important to include in the design, unique furniture ideas, specially tailored to each interior. With a career filled with some of the world’s most inspiring designs, Carlo shares special care for two of his projects. “I think the projects that are most representative of our work are the villa LA modern and Loft A.” The first one is a brand-new construction that perfectly their sense of proportions, careful choices of the materials, use of light, a revisited modernist approach. As for the Loft A design, this was 800 sqm renovation that is still very innovative both for the use of materials and for the interpretation of the layout.
The Italian design studio is currently working on a new residential building with luxury apartments and utilities in Milan downtown. “I believe it’s important to be very updated on the actual trends of the industry but at the same time to be able to work on different tracks out of the mainstream in order to anticipate new trends, be original and try in our little field to be some kind of disruptive”, enlightened Carlo Donati. His constant research for new material solutions and the attention for the chromatic palette is what makes his design projects so exclusive.
Besides creating unique interior design projects, the Carlo Donati studio entered the world of furniture design production with the presentations of two incredible collections: “Reloaded” collection and another one that was the result of the exclusive partnership with the renowned Italian artist Petrus. Both of these designs were introduced at Fuorisalone Milan 2018 and 2019, respectively. Currently, they are working with a brand-new collection for the famous European mid-century modern design brand known as Essential Home.
Passionate about the lines of the mid-century design lines, Carlo Donati believes that this era was the period of a time period where elegance and lightness were reference points, so the inspiration for his new furniture collection wasn’t hard to find. “I absolutely believe that it will be a fundamental reference in the luxury design since we’re talking about timeless elegance.” For the Italian designer, Essential Home is a brand that combines the Portuguese craftsmanship culture with a contemporary style.
For those of you who don’t know, Portuguese craftsmanship has a well-known old tradition especially in relation to a cork that is a light and resistant material and moreover an example of recyclable and sustainable energy. The hand-painted ceramic tiles and textile manufacturing are also a huge part of the country’s artistic culture.
The Italian designer has grown up surrounded with one of the world’s best craftsmanship culture, so with this brand-new furniture collection, Carlo Donati could combine two of his many passions: craftsmanship and a modern approach of the mid-century style. “Designing for Essential Home is a challenge I took up with enthusiasm because it gives me the opportunity to work on one of my favourite styles and moods which is the mid-century modern reloaded with new cues and materials”, he explained. According to Donati, this partnership was the perfect opportunity to combine the great tradition of the master artisans, through the finest Portuguese craftsmanship culture, with a more Mediterranean mood. His main goal with this mid-century collection was to introduce “lightness, sixties patterns, some kind of ‘joie de vivre’- very Italian. Like the atmosphere in ‘La dolce vita’ -Federico Fellini’s masterpiece.” This is might be one of the most memorable collections ever created by the amazing Carlo Donati, don’t you think?
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