Interview: Daniele Lago and Paola Jannelli

We chat with the designers about their newest collaboration “Luci e ombre” illusionist wallpaper


Considered one of the most interesting furniture companies in Italy, LAGO shines for its vision and often surprising and extremely innovative approach to design. Together with Jannelli&Volpi—also a leader in Italian design for wallpaper and furnishing fabrics, and for their JVstore in Milan—they have now developed a line of poetic and surreal wallpaper called “Luci e Ombre,” or “Light and Shadows”.

The two companies meld their shared foundations of family entrepreneurial tradition to collaborate on the illusionistic decor, which features reflections from wrought iron railings, ornamental window sills, balconies, terraces and imaginary curtains tossing imaginary shadows across the non-woven fabric. Some of the designs also recall some iconic LAGO modular furniture, like the N.O.W wardrobe.


The first “Luci e ombre” wall coverings were exhibited at Abitare il Tempo in late 2012, but the entire collection was presented by LAGO at IMM Cologne, last January. LAGO and Jannelli&Vopli will showcase the collection at the official Salone Internazionale del Mobile but also at the parallel Fuorisalone, the series of events that every year transform the entire city of Milan.
We had the chance to interview Daniele Lago and Paola Jannelli, the two minds behind the entire development of the project.

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LAGO company started off with furniture and now it’s going in the direction of a fully accessorized home. How important is it to you to decorate the entire interior?

Lago: For us it is important to have a positive impact on people’s lives and in our path, we realized that we needed a zoom-out from the simple product. Thanks to the Appartamento LAGO project (where I acted as an interior designer) I realized that the role of the interior designer is central to rethink how we live the home today. So I thought it would be fun to suggest other types of products, later to be put in the hands of interior designers, like new letters that expand the LAGO alphabet with a new vocabulary. This project will be launched in a preview during the upcoming Salone at the core of our Fuorisalone events in our apartment in Via Brera, 30.


How did the collaboration with LAGO began?

Jannelli: From a mutual understanding that I think prompted the original call and sparked the necessary enthusiasm. Being able to ensure all our experience, technique, history and continuity in the construction of a product such as the wallpaper, I think, has helped us to enhance and support an idea that has generated great synergy.

This line of wallpaper is highly poetic and personal. What do you think of the relationship between representation and evocation?

Lago: The first time I met Paola, if I remember correctly, we had a passionate discussion on the concept of decoration—both of us being genuine and sincere, and in the end we just understood each other. I wanted to investigate in a more intimate way the world of decoration applied to wallpaper, seeking magic representations that produced positive feelings. “Luci e ombre” came about while I was having breakfast on a quiet Sunday morning and the shadows generated by a beautiful sun made me feel good. I just tried to reproduce that feeling onto the wallpaper.


This collection can recall the photographic wallpapers so popular in the 1970s. Is there an explicit reference?

Jannelli: I do not think we should look for historical references. I think we’d rather focus on the contemporary side of our product that transcends the meaning of pure decoration. We find design-oriented strength in innovative technical values that stimulate the imagination and improve the quality of a space with a simple sign like a ray of light, shadows, the flight of butterflies, reflections, dreams.


Can you anticipate us some of the things that you will present at the next Salone del Mobile?

Lago: We have many plans. At the official exhibition center we will present the segment of interior design, from floor to wall finishes, but also the wallpapers. A 20-meters-long wooden table will cut in two the stand, where visitors will engage in a very social atmosphere. We will introduce new products that range from tables and bathrooms to systems designed by Lagostudio and myself. At Appartamento LAGO we will launch two major projects, and Architonic will be our media partner for a series of speeches with architects and designers. Last but not least, in the Lagostore on via Turati, most likely we will create a performance that involves the store windows. If you want to come and visit us at Appartamento, you are welcome—we never run out of coffee.


And what will Jannelli&Volpi present at Fuorisalone this year?

Jannelli: Many of our efforts are concentrated at our JVstore. This place has always been the headquarters of the company. There we’ll present Wonder Wallpaper (art direction by Matteo Ragni), a wonderful journey into the world of wall coverings, in which we present the new Jwall line, created with five photographers and Jannelli & Volpi’s CreativeLab.

Some other projects are a partnership with TDM6, the sixth edition of the Trienniale Design Museum, in addition to ZeroDesignFestival, which will take place from 15 to 17 of March at the Museum of Science and Technology, just before and in preparation of Salone.
New partnerships with companies with whom we share the vision of the project include Stone Italiana presenting with us Stonewallpaper—in ‘stone paper’—within the project Stone Circus by Lorenzo Palmeri and, of course, LAGO.

Images courtesy of Lago and Jannelli&Volpi