Andrea Rosso is running late. Glancing around Diesel Living’s extensive, jam-packed stand at Milan Design Week‘s Salone del Mobile, you can’t really blame him. He’s certainly had his hands full. When he arrives, his impish aura immediately seems to brighten Diesel’s typically dark, brooding, rock’n’roll stand. Retreating to a back room, he quickly reveals himself as a creative force to be reckoned with: passionate, intelligent, creative and altogether different from the stereotypical, achingly-serious design figureheads. “With Diesel Living, we wanted to make this image of what we actually want in our lives, of how we want to live,” he tells us. “And this year we’ve looked at entire spaces instead of just individual products, like the Diesel Open Workshop Kitchen and bathroom we’ve made with Scavolini.”
Unlike other established labels that turn their attention toward a new area, Diesel Living has always had a very conscious eye on quality, working hands-on with knowledgable collaborators like Berti flooring, ceramic experts Seletti, product geniuses Foscarini and the mighty Moroso. All are collaborators who could potentially be overpowering in the hands of the timid. For Rosso, though, such collaborators merely fuel his fantasy. “Quality is very important to me. As is knowledge. And we love to share the knowledge of the companies we collaborate with. Our partners understand that the things we do at Diesel Living have to have integrity,” he explains. And that integrity is another element of the initially unlikely success of the Diesel brand in an industry dominated by inauthentic intentions.
Exploring the new Open Workshop Kitchen and that level of authentic intent is present on every level. It’s no case of an off-the-shelf framework from an overseas supplier; Rosso’s eye for detail is engrained into every facet and faucet. “Four years ago the kitchen became even more social. So we took the kitchen as a concept, emptied it and then found it again. We developed these special metal joints so we could make it very modular. And really worked with Scavolini to examine how to reduce a kitchen but still have that Diesel feel,” he notes, hands carefully tracing and drafting in the air as he speaks.
We ask of his background in fashion and its impact on the way he designs and thinks of the interior space. “There’s a crossover for sure. Diesel Living and Diesel design teams work from the same space. So we’re exposed to what they’re doing and them to us. Myself, I have to be able to touch things. To see and touch textiles, patterns, finishes. I’ve always loved the first feel of something new. And then that sensation of a finished product or concept.”
With its stand filled not only with new items but pieces from its earlier collections, we press Rosso on the future. His response echoes the feeling of the visual timeline on display: “These days we want to satisfy and explore the private home, and also reach out into hotels or spaces like restaurants. We’re beginning to widen our vision and fit everything together.” Diesel, of course, is intrinsically Italian, and its design arm flies the flag too. “We’re made in Italy. It’s important to the product to have that stamp. But it’s an international Italy.” Indeed, he’s quick to point out that his pool of influences stretches much further afield, spending lots of time traveling and soaking up cultures, shapes, styles and feelings.
“We love to walk the cities. See the colors and the textures, finding the unexpected in the ordinary. But it’s when you return home and take those influences from their natural environment that they become different, you know. The influences change when you put them in a closed space, the hype and the passion becomes new forms.” Casting one last eye over this year’s Diesel Living standouts like the studied, stripped back kitchen, the glossy rock-chic of its new textural bathroom and the stylized cosmos-inspired ceramics and tableware, it’s easy to imagine this exotic, solid design collection in your own house.
Images courtesy of Diesel Living