A TALK WITH DAVIDE GROPPI
Photography by Matteo Pastorio
Davide Groppi, in addition to entertaining for almost twenty years an intense relationship with the world of light and lighting, has been a great friend of Mutina for over 15 years. We visited him in his studio in Piacenza, where in 1989 he began to design lamps that have allowed him to embark on his adventure in the world of design, an adventure made of instinct, lightness, emotion and simplicity.
It was the late ’80s when you opened your first laboratory where you invented and produced your lamps. What led you to take such an important step?
I’m often asked how I decided to start making lamps and I never have a clear answer. The fact is that my father taught me how to build things and once we built a lamp together. I remember that I was genuinely excited. It was a lamp with a lampshade. The shades have always fascinated me. We are all more beautiful next to an abat-jour. So when it came, at age 25, to decide what to do with my life (I was a bit hippy at the time, and maybe to some extent, I still am), I decided to open a laboratory in Piacenza. This was my first and only job.
Prior to the launch of your personal project, did you ever try to work with big lighting companies?
No, I didn’t. I was too insecure (and shy) to think about introducing myself to a company. And then I always thought that to simply show a lamp to someone is very simplistic. I need to tell a story, to explain my poetry. The set of aesthetic and meanings behind my work. I always use four ingredients to build my projects: simplicity, lightness, emotion and invention. I never changed and I always have the feeling of doing the first lamp.
Who brought you in the path of development and diffusion of your project?
At first I was alone. For some years I was completely alone. It’s as if I went to school of light and lamps. I am not the son of entrepreneurs, but I was lucky enough to meet people who have taught me some important things. Then came my brother Michael and then the first collaborators who are still working with me now. Now we work all over the world and I owe it to them completely.
How do you create a lamp? What is the creative and the production process that leads to the finished product?
For me it is very simple. It is a requirement. The need to solve a problem and the desire to communicate. The process is classic. I talk to someone, do some prototype in the laboratory and then begin to build a story. Personally I always need to talk and exchange with someone. I also need to take pictures and see what I’m doing. I need to give the project a name. The names of the lamps are important. So important that sometimes the name comes out before the lamp.
Specifically, what are your sources of inspiration?
My work is not an exact science, but over time I found my way. One method that can be summarized in seven paradigms, seven sparks from which often ideas start: art, ready-made, the light where you want it, the hand-made, the light as a service, the irony.
What is Spazio Esperienze?
Spazio Esperienze is a place conceived to let all visitors live an unforgettable light experience. It is capable of arousing a feeling of belonging and the desire to return. Spazio Esperienze is set deliberately in the heart of the factory just to capture the essence of our work and the idea that the lamps are not magic, but are the result of ingenuity, imagination, work, organization, passion, heart and brain.
How did the Emilia area influence your work?
I love Emilia. I was born here and I live here. Sometimes I think I could not do this job if I was born elsewhere. For many reasons. For people, places, food, fog …
What is your relationship with Mutina?
I have known Massimo for 15 years and I have always followed in his adventure. It is a relationship of respect and friendship, but also admiration for the work they do. They are really good. The work they do at Mutina is not an easy job. It is giving sense to the surfaces to capture capacities and hierarchies of the spaces. Many try to do it, few are able to do it with originality and consistency as they do at Mutina. Sometimes I helped offering my light.
If you had to match a product or a designer of Mutina with one of your lampa, which would it be?
I do not have a particular preference. Projects at Mutina are all wonderful, never banal. I’d like to caress Mutina surfaces with the light of “Nulla”. Nulla for me is the absence and the essence of things. One of the jobs that I am most fond of. I’d like to do a work of light and surface.