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LANZAVECCHIA + WAI is a creative collaboration between Francesca Lanzavecchia and Hunn Wai. To them, being designers means being researchers, engineers, craftsmen and story-tellers all at the same time.

Wai hails from the south-east Asian island state of Singapore, educated as an industrial designer at the National University while Lanzavecchia received her BA in Product Design from Politecnico di Milano, Italy. They began their cooperation at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, where both graduated with Masters in Design under the direction of Gijs Bakker, co-founder of Droog Design. Lanzavecchia’s main interest lies in the relationships objects have and can have with the human body and soul as well as having a fervent eye for future trends. Wai is fascinated by the collisions and fusions of materials, meanings and forms.

Their cooperation is based on those focuses and having hailed from two very different countries and cultures, they attempt to feed off each other’s backgrounds, knowledge and skill-sets to fuel lateral thinking and agile tangible application. Design projects to them are research journeys characterized by the pursuit and selective employment of different design disciplines and professional competences, to be curated, cross-bred and nurtured into concepts and products that propose possibilities and inspire new perspectives. LANZAVECCHIA + WAI have collectively garnered attention and accolades in major design platforms such as the Fuori Salone in Milan, IMM in Cologne, Tokyo Design Week, “Design That Thinks” in Lecce and “Social Interaction by Art & Design” at t´Buurthuis in Breda, the Netherlands.

Take us back to how Lanzavecchia + Wai began

We met at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, where we were both pursueing Masters in Design, under the direction of Droog Design co-founder, Gijs Bakker. This was back in 2007/08.After sometime of helping each other on projects, we felt we could work together, create together. So our cooperation only crystallized formally in end 2009 when we won an award to do a residency at the Danish Art Workshops in Copenhagen. That resulted in our studio’s debut collection, which was launched at the Milan Design Week of 2010. Now we work apart in 2 timezones, continents and cultures.

A day in your life, what occurs?

Hunn would rise 1st (SG is 7 hours ahead of IT), so that would mean checking emails, handling administration, or going out for meetings, so by the time Francesca clocks in, there can be answers/results to discuss and process. That would happen around tea-time in Singapore. Francesca might then go out for meetings and come back to discuss around late evening Singapore-time. In this way our “opening hours” are stretched! We have a strong bond so we are able to work and converse via Skype, emails, sms’ and file-sharing software. Of course we would like to be in closer proximity for interaction, but seeing our arrangement allows our studio to keep one foot in Europe and another in Asia. it is something we can endure.

Describe your humble abode.

Francesca lives in a converted 16th Century nunnery with double volume spaces in the middle of a city 30km south of Milan, where cobble stones line the streets, while Hunn lives in an 80’s vast condominium estate that feels like a small city with all the amenities it has. Its proximity from cosy drinking-holes in nearby Holland Village makes the deal sweeter.

What do you do in your free time?

We travel avidly, think about the next project (since all are self-initiated), eat and drink verociously, interact with peers (to converse about our world) and strangers (to get out of our world)…just to live life. Some of our best ideas come from observations in transit between places and not at the studio.

Recommend us some cool haunts in Singapore.

We love Haji Lane, Blu Jazz for its conviviality and cosiness, Haw Par Villa for its sheer ambition, gaudiness and its existence, Dempsey of course, like Red Dot Brewery, and Infuzion for its whisky selection, and Chinatown, especially during the Lunar New Year.

Reveal something about yourself that no one knows

Our birthdays are 1 day apart.

How do you define yourself as an designer?

We see Design as an avenue to communicate our opinions on the status quo, its perceptions and values. Our main theme in our philosophy is the clashing and contrasts of our sexes, cultures and interests. Francesca is about tactility, interaction and human-object relationships, while Hunn is about the manipulation of material, their coming together and structures. Hence it is natural our work thus far deals with skin and structure as the leitmotiv.

What inspired your works?

Life in general, art, architecture, fashion, vernaculars of different parts of the world, the street, each other.

Which of your design pieces is your favorite?

The next project.

Is there an designer/artist you relate to?

Too many to name, but off the top of our heads, Munari, Fontana, McQueen.

What’s the best and worst thing about being an artist?

Thoroughly fulfilling satisfaction in the process of creation and the eventual completion. There are no worst things, just inconveniences like sleepless nights and unforeseen problems that we willingly go through to achieve our visions.

Is there a purpose to your designs?

Our designs tell stories through material, form, format and context. We hope for them to make statements that bring focus to what is unseen and, what we deem, needs to be communicated. For example Francesca’s project on medical prosthetics questioning and proposing new values for these intimate objects and our latest one to be launched in Milan in April, interior lighting objects produced in collaboration with Singapore’s last lion dance mask craftsman.

Lanzavecchia-Wai website www.lanzevecchia-wai.com

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