Home Trends INTERVIEW SIMONA GARUFI “Sustainable retrofuturism will be the latest trend in architecture and interior design in 2023”

INTERVIEW SIMONA GARUFI “Sustainable retrofuturism will be the latest trend in architecture and interior design in 2023”

by Elena Abascal
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Joyful and energetic, with a vision of space and striking geometric patterns. Her work is characterised by conceptuality and a signature style that she herself calls “experimentation”.

The architect Simona Garufi speaks of her native Italy and the influence of the theatre in describing her brilliant career and the newest trends in interior design and décor in the coming months.

ISULA | Espacio Squash Martín | Marbella Design | Photo: Paloma Pacheco

Italy is synonymous with design, talent and creativity. Has being born in Naples influenced your artistic and professional career?

Totally. Naples is a city that is extremely alive, ‘southern’ in the fullest sense. The city is anarchic, inclusive, where philosophy lives alongside history. There is no one without this Greek influence in their DNA. Art is an essential part of the soul of the city. There is no “vicolo”, no lane or alley, where you won’t find laundry lines alongside the philosophy of the people.

The city has been my greatest source of inspiration in my way of living and working, but especially regarding the conceptual aspect of my work. I can say that each of my project carries this Partenopea spirit!

You were raised surrounded by talent, in a family of sculptors. And so geometry, proportions and space have been a part of your life from the very beginning. When did you know that architecture and interior design were your future?

I remember perfectly the smell of chalk in my room. When my father wasn’t working in the studio be brought home his tools and we shared a passion for art and creation. He with sculpture and me with my pencil crayons.

He taught me the proportions of the human body and the geometry of architecture. My father was born in 1918. In those times artists had an all-round, 360º training. This gave me the opportunity to learn to see things from multiple points of view. And so, when I was 10 years old I was sure I wanted to be a scenographer, which is the perfect combination of art and architecture. I later chose the career of architect because I think it is the most complete field, combining artistic and technical aspects.

Millesime Madrid| Photo: Javier Casero

You work is characterised by its conceptuality, revealing the humanistic and philosophical aspects of architecture.
How would you describe the personal style of Simona Garufi?

If I had to describe my style in a single word it would be “experimentation”. An experimentation that always has a certain logic, where each design element serves a purpose. My style is not to follow the trends but to listen to the environment and its needs; to experiment with contrasts, technology and consider the human interaction with the space.

My training in the theatre is a very important part of work. As architects we are directors of a scene, we direct various roles that live in constant equilibrium within the scenario which is the creative space.

In 2008, you decided to create your own studio, specialising in the design of homes and commercial spaces. What have been the most important projects in your professional career?

The most important projects for me have been those that offer the opportunity to combine geometric designs with the message I want to convey. I have focussed on art installations; so-called “ephemeral architecture”, a perfect combination between art and architecture, and scenography. I have also been able to add my knowledge and love of the whole world of marketing and communication.

Those who lived through the 1980’s will remember the colourful short films, humming along with the songs we all knew by heart. A very effective way for the message to really hit home. Bringing this same concept to architecture you can create ‘communication’ spaces where visitors truly live the message your trying to transmit.

In this line, the most important projects were my installations in 2017 for Hyundai in the Plaza Santa Ana and Plaza de la Platería de Martínez in Madrid and my latest project in Casa Decor 2022 for Thermomix. In both projects, people could “live” the message, interacting and experiencing not only the architectural surroundings but also the powerful message of the client.

Modus in Rebus | Marbella Design Art 2022 | Photo: Fredy Torra

The most important challenge you currently have in mind?

To remain true to my values, as always.

What trend or fashion would you like to revive?

The 1980’s, with an eco-friendly approach!

Thermomix Space designed by Simona Garufi at Casa Decor 2022 | Photo: Lupe Clemente

As an observer of trends, in 2023, architecture and interior design will tend towards… ?

Retrofuturism! In recent years we’ve seen a shift from straight lines to more organic forms. Curves are gradually entering into interior designs, along with new colour combinations. It’s a revival of the 1920’s, a hundred years later, with a return to Art Deco as an essential aesthetic.

After the years of the pandemic, and also the growing concern about climate change, people feel the need to return to nature. Colours are softening. Now the trend towards more earthy tones, browns, brick reds, beiges.

As always, fashion is a mirror of the times in which we live. From my point of view, the retrofuturism we see in some projects can be summed up as a desire for freedom. Let’s not forget that, after the launch of the Sputnik in 1957, the world became obsessed with Space and there was a new “galactic” trend that completely changed the scenario. In those years humans become aware of their power after decades of war and conflict. Now Mankind could conquer Space. These years marked the beginning of a new era.

In parallel, what we see now is a recovery of that powerful desire to escape from dark times. The desire to play, to surprise and to be surprised, to experiment and to harness technology and push it forward. There is a desire to return to the INDIVIDUAL in control of their life.

In interior design this trend is seen in silver coloured curtains, daring curved forms (although not necessarily organic), stark contrasts and lots of interplay of light. This mix of the 1960’s and the 1980’s is an explosive combination, a return to life without overlooking sustainability which is the huge added attraction of this incredible retrofuturist trend.

You worked with Hisbalit in a project that made an explosive use of colour. What is your favourite chromatic range?

Red. In all its tones, from carmine to magenta. Red is powerful, pure energy.

In 2017, you were named as among the top 10 creative talents from Italy in Spain. How important is it for you to work with materials that allow you to express your creative ideas?

That experience, the “New Made in Italy” marked a before and after. The possibility to combine these two cultures using Spanish materials and practices has led to much more integrated projects.

The materials are fundamental, each with a distinctive energy. Following on the concept of the “theatre of listening”, materials are the protagonists of the creative scenario. The key is to harmonise them, just like the two cultures (Italian and Spanish) that I always try to bring together in every project.

In one of your projects you created a personalised gradation using Hisbalit mosaic tiles. What would do you see as the highlights of the Art Factory personalisation service and our eco-friendly mosaic tiles?


The design and the quality of the material.

Eureka! Sixtypro Space designed by Simona | Marbella Design 21 | Photo: Paloma Pacheco

How was your experience working with our design team?

An impeccable service, no doubt. I was perfectly attended from the very first instant and the results were a complete success!

Which of our collections best fits with your style?

I love the Niebla collection for the intensity of the colours. A gradation or mix with this collection confers a special, unique personality to every space.

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