Interview: Marco Piva’s vision on Sustainable Design

Exciting, fluid, functional. This is the language that succinctly defines Marco Piva’s architectural creations, his product designs, and also his interior designs.

Smart Living strives to achieve Marco’s vision in such Sustainable Design.

The effort made in material research and technology, and the value of differentiation through design innovation, lead to the establishment of Studiodada Associates, whose production became one of the most representative of the period of Radical Design. In the ’80s Studio Marco Piva was created, with its work ranging from large projects to architectural interiors and industrial design. A traveller, designer, and an innovator educated in rational approaches, Marco Piva studies and creates designed solutions that are pervaded by stylistic freedom and compositional sobriety.




The Studio participated in the design and construction of the innovative complex Next 21 in Osaka, Japan, the Laguna Palace in Mestre (Italy), the Port Palace in Monte Carlo, and the Hotel Mirage in Kazan (Russia). For the Exedra Boscolo Group it created the Suites of Exedra in Rome, the B4 Net Padova Tower, and the Tower Hotel in Bologna (Italy). In Dubai, on Palm Jumeirah, it designed the Tiara Hotel Oceania Hotel, and the innovative complex Porto Dubai.

Currently, Marco is engaged in the design of the new complex of the River Port of Novosibirsk (Russia), the construction of the residential complex of Changzhou (China), on the renovation of a monumental building in Saint Petersburg, and in other prestigious private houses.




In Italy, he is completing the Hotel Excelsior Gallia, and collaborating together with the prestigious fashion house Maison Bulgari to design of all its store windows worldwide.

Marco Piva Atelier Design has designed for many prestigious brands, such as A Project, Altreforme, Arflex, Arpa Industriale, Bross, Casamilano, Ceramica Cielo, Colombo Design, Gervasoni, Jacuzzi, Kvadrat, i Guzzini Illuminazione, L’Abbate, La Murrina, Lamm, Lapis, Leucos, Moroso, Novello, Oikos, Poliform, Poltrona Frau, Reflex, Schonhuber Franchi, Serralunga, Sicis, So Far So Near, Tisettanta, Unopiù, VDA, W52, and Zonca.




What, in your opinion, are the main aspects to keeping in focus the development phase of a project nowadays?

With the evolution of today’s society, there are number of issues that assume an increasing importance in the fulfillment of an architectural project or design product. These issues are related to the use of the materials, the sustainability of the production process, the possibility of recycling the product at the end of its use, and to have the least possible impact on the available resources and the territory.

Beyond such things that represent an added value from a point of view of ethical design, others need also be considered. For example, the capacity of the object/ product to be functional and attractive, from an aesthetic point of view, and embrace the “spirit of the times”.

Today and in the near future, the product/project must be able to establish a series of connections with the end user that are not only functional, but also formal, emotional, perceptive and synesthetic.

What do you consider essential when you develop a project?

In my projects, I have always put first the research on materials and new technologies related to sustainability and energy efficiency themes.

My aim is to construct buildings with guaranteed certification with regard to the architecture, where both nature and architecture meet in order to develop structures that cause the least environmental impact.

For example, in the facades of the Hotel Excelsior Gallia in Milan, which will be inaugurated during the Expo 2015, a lighting study of the façades has been carried out with the aim of highlighting the decorative and allegorical details of the historic building with lighting systems that cannot be seen. So the special elements and detail of the building can be “described” without having an impact on the surrounding areas.

Moreover, LED lighting systems have been used for both exteriors and interiors to ensure a longer life for the systems and therefore creating less maintenance, with resultant and substantial energy and cost savings. In the National Trade Building in Harbin, China, characterized by a harsh climate up to 40 degrees below zero, new strategies were required to be faced in order to reduce energy consumption. The architectural development proposes to introduce new technologies in the field of glass and facade systems, considering the façade as part of the strategic energy containment.




… and during a product design process?

As for design, what has always attracted me is its need to be linked to research and experimentation, not only from the formal and functional point of view, but also from a semantic and social one. For example, in designing the products of Fluid Collection for Ceramica Cielo, I have used the latest technology for the processing of the materials, but have also studied new packaging solutions in order to minimize excess and wastefulness, looking to achieve a maximum sustainability.

Moreover, we have developed a process of rationalization and the reuse of water in the production phases, which have led to a reduction in fuel consumption by about 50%.

How are the increasing needs of sustainability impacting on today’s trends?

From the point of view of light and the entire lighting system, from homes to large structures the theme of environmental sustainability has become unavoidable. It has become a particularly overwhelming trend in today’s lighting world, it moving from efficient lighting to smart lighting.

Therefore, it is fundamental to use programs able to govern the entire space’s lighting system, such as through the use of Vitrum Smart Switches that I am now using within a prestigious interior design project in China called Club House.

Vitrum is in fact a control device system that can manage the entire lighting system in an elegant and intuitive way, where design, technology, ergonomics and sustainability are in balance, in a magical combination of glass and light. The synthesis of technology and design “Made in Italy” at the service of environmental sustainability.




Please, could you specify the key factors of the Vitrum Smart Switches.

The functionality of the ECOSWITCH allows you to set the light in two stages. The first powered control light is set to an intensity of 65%, while with the second pressure it reaches 100%. In Vitrum the design has a fundamental role not only in making technology “legible” and easy to use, but also in defining the appearance of the product, which in this case is suggested by simple, highly elegant lines.

To conclude, I do not think that it makes sense to talk about design as an end in itself today. The trend of the future will be to put technology, and design, at the service of the environment, creating new objects and projects that start from ethics, and subsequently achieve the aesthetics.