Estimated reading time: 4 min
Interior design is one area that was hit particularly hard by the economic downturn, as both private and public clients sought to keep a tight grip on their finances. However, things are now looking up for European countries because 2015 has been a year of cautious optimism, meaning that now formerly stagnant Euro-zone economies are gaining momentum once again, albeit slowly. RMJM Italia is one such Studio now sitting at the forefront of the interior design industry’s steady climb back to economic stability. This is largely thanks to the Studio’s directors Simone Cellitti and Roberto Tripi, and the lessons learned from the recession. The reduction in revenue and subsequent evolution of client tastes has given way to a streamlined approach. Thankfully, it’s an approach that is now proving a hit with clients once again ready to invest in world-class design.
During the recession, the production of interior products and furniture dwindled as European firms struggled to maintain pace with low-cost, rapid production economies. RMJM Italia identified that the surviving (and in some cases thriving) firms had branched out to cater to multiple client types. This has been a lesson that has changed the face of the studio, and interior design, forever. “Manufacturers need to cater to high, middle and low-cost clients now” observes Simone. “Design manufacturing partners must understand that their products need to be accessible to every level of the market. The industry needs to put its skills at the service of the market, reducing the costs while keeping the quality of the final product.”
Prior to the recession, interior design placed significantly less focus on the carbon impact of design. In today’s post-recession world energy efficiency and intelligent use of materials are recognised as a vital design aspects, both as economic and ecological considerations. Traditional design methods have been co-opted, adapted and reconfigured to take advances in technology into account. “It’s about being able to merge your best practices with new opportunities” acknowledges Simone. With a slew of high-profile post-recession projects, RMJM Italia has proven it’s not just about being able to seek out the best in new technology; it’s also about learning to improvise.
“We learned to find multiple applications for the same materials,” says Simone. Giving an example of the studio’s new approach in the design process, Simone points to the improvised use of EcoMortar, a ready mixed lime plaster/render combination traditionally used for the repair and conservation of historic building exteriors; “We tried EcoMortar for several interior design products and achieved great results, both in terms of customisation of the product and the environment that it created.” By being able to reuse the same material for a range of different functions, RMJM Italia simultaneously reduced the material cost and environmental impact of several projects, making for a happy client and a healthier planet.
RMJM Italia designed chairs
Research and collaboration
As budgets become less indulgent (for both designer and client), custom design has gained particular prominence. Post-recession RMJM Italia is more open to customisation, with a stronger focus on delivering tailored design solutions.
“The recession became an incentive to promote new collaborations and initiatives,” claims Simone. “From co-marketing to experimentation, all these initiatives can offer interesting opportunities.” Flexibility is key to the Studio’s success. Client requests are paramount, and bespoke design no longer has to equal an increased fee. The economic downturn witnessed a power exchange between the client and designer. Whereas pre-recession interior design allowed the designer a great deal of autonomy; post-recession, the client calls the shots.
Working in conjunction with other RMJM studios around the world, Roberto and Simone have developed an understanding of the importance of adaptation in the industry. “People are more stimulated to find new products and revive old skills they can combine with new technologies” Simone points out. The recession may have toppled some established design firms, but RMJM Italia has an unequivocal understanding of the importance of diversity, sustainability and the client’s role in the design process. In that sense, the recession just might have been the best thing to happen to both RMJM Italia and the European interior design scene.
The RMJM Italia team, discussing their latest project