Talking Textiles with Paola Lenti

Paola Lenti Dzine Interview

To celebrate 20 years of Paola Lenti’s success and innovation in design and the release of the company’s book Tessere Spazi (Weaving Spaces), we hosted Paola Lenti herself for a special reception and book signing in our showroom yesterday evening.

Paola Lenti initially began her career as a graphic designer, but soon after went out on her own exploration, wanting to work for herself. She founded her eponymous design company in 1994 with headquarters in the furniture district of Meda, Milan in Italy. Under her creative direction, the company has developed a wide range of indoor and outdoor rugs and furniture characterized by innovative natural and synthetic materials. The Paola Lenti brand, recognized for its vibrant colors, timeless design and exclusive fabrics, conducts extensive research to develop its materials and colors, and collaborates with some of the world’s most talented designers to bring its products to realization.

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Paola’s background in graphic design proved to be essential in influencing her work as a designer. “She sees the fabrics with a graphic eye,” explained Shoshana Gilbert, the U.S. representative for Paola Lenti and the designer’s translator for the evening. “The visual balance that you see in the textiles is something that was informed by graphic design. There is an architectural strictness that she applies to everything she does.”

The company’s relationships with leading designers, such as Francesco Rota, Patricia Urquiola and Claesson Koivisto Rune, has led to truly innovative collaborations. When working with designers, Paola’s first priority is to find the expression of the fabric, or the form that the fabric wants to take. The material determines the form; there are limits in the material, Paola explains, and these limits determine the form as well. After this vision of the fabric is born, she gives the raw material to the designer, who creates the form. For Paola, teamwork is at the core of everything her company does.

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Just as the textile inspires the form, nature plays a role in informing the textile. “The color [of Paola Lenti’s fabric] is so beautiful because it’s not homogenous, it’s not all one color, it’s not a regular repeat,” Gilbert translates. “When you weave a piece, it has different vibrations, different tones. It’s so much more real and so much closer to nature. If you look at a tree outside, it’s not just one shade of green; there are gradations of color. When you put Paola Lenti pieces out in nature they really blend.”

When we asked Paola what she hopes for for the future of her company, her answer was simple: to create a stable, healthy and strong company – strong in terms of having people there that want to work together as a team. Her personal vision is to ensure the overall health of the company.

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“The spirit in the way she works, the soul of how she does things, is really reflected in her furniture,” said Gilbert. “There’s a warmth, there’s a tactility, there’s a beauty. It’s very soulful furniture, and it comes from her way of working.”

Next: Dan Stiles: Design as Art