Danish-Italian architect and design duo Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi have built their reputation by combining their two cultures into a minimalist aesthetic. Best known for the often-replicated Beetle chair the duo made for design house Gubi and the Balance hanging mobile created for modern home furnishings maker Cappellini, the influential duo are also active designing inventive cafes and restaurants. In Manila, the Harlan & Holden cafe gets its inspiration from a greenhouse to create a sense of calm, as the cafe is situated in the midst of a busy commercial area. Verandah in Copenhagen also plays on the theme of outdoors versus indoors; it uses outdoor furniture and houses verdant trees with fragrant flowers. A hotel is in their future, though details, even its location, remain under wraps.
GamFratesi’s latest project is a collaboration blending three distinct visions into a singular visual and sensory experience. The Copenhagen-based duo created a set of high-end scented home and car diffusers for Italian home fragrance maker Acqua di Parma and Italian leather furniture company Poltrona Frau. The airbound collection features fine leather spheres that straddle an electric diffuser, which infuses its surrounding with heady aromas.
We spoke to the couple about how they combine their design traditions, how Italian and Scandinavian design differ and complement each other, and more.
This diffuser collection draws on both of your heritages, as well as that of two luxury brands. How did you combine it all?
STINE GAM: We have to find the music that sets the harmony between the two brands and ourselves. Which is how we usually work; we are accustomed to working between cultures, between ourselves, and between personalities. That’s the interesting part, finding what’s important in the DNA of all three partners.
What do you find your two cultures have in common and what sets them apart, in terms of design?
GAM: We both come from very strong traditions in design. Italy is driven more by conceptual thinking, almost like a manifesto, and the Scandinavian approach is much more like a process—they go step by step. More comes from the craft.
ENRICO FRATESI: It’s natural for us to translate both our cultures into our work. When we start a project we want to come to it with a concept or idea, which is probably the Italian part. But then of course, our way of working is very symbiotic, because we are a couple in life and in work. That also makes it difficult to find where one started and the other finished. It’s a fluid process that becomes a mix of cultures in a very honest and natural way.