Hotshot Stefano Seletti, the creative director of Italy`s most playful brand, Seletti, lives on a humble slice of countryside, at the confluence of four provinces. In fact, confluence might be a defining term for Seletti`s practice, whose work started at the crossroads of Western and Eastern culture and is now positioned as affordable design, sold both in up class concept stores such as Colette and small local shops, his products sitting therefore at the intersection of democratic design and art. As creative director of the company, which was established by his father in 1964, Seletti commands the humorous corner of the Italian design scene. But it wasn`t always like this. He started working with his father at 17, fresh out of highschool. At that time, the company was importing cheap household goods such as carpet beaters or straw coasters from China, India, Thailand and Vietnam, which involved lots of working trips for young Stefano and his father. These early encounters with the Asian culture and being born and raised in a working class family have left a deep mark on him and later translated into his practice. Without any formal education in design, his objective was to create affordable everyday objects with a twist. And judging by the hundreds of stores all over the world and the response of the press, I`d say he did it pretty well.
His lack of training in industrial design might be a source of fresh ideas, openness and courage not to compromise on his ideas. Although he has been fishing from pop art and Italian radical design, maintaining a coherent approach, Seletti collaborated with various artists and designers, the result being a boundless universe of cheeky objects. For Estetico Quotidiano, a collection which captured the full attention of the press and was a huge commercial success, Seletti repositioned single use objects into fine design pieces. By changing the materials the objects were made of, their nature and the way they were destined to be used was altered. The collection was also a subtle commentary on our contemporary throw-away society.
For Hybrid, they collaborated with CTRLZAK in order to highlight the history of cross-fertilization between Western and Eastern aesthetics. The tableware, cast in bone china, is graphically divided: one half of the object resembles traditional Chinese porcelain, while the other side features European design.In 2013, together with Valentina Caretta from Fabrica, they launched Egg of Columbus, a hanging lamp made of recycled paper, which resembles the texture of egg boxes. Bonus: it looks as a maid cap and it`s at the same time eco-friendly and modern. Among my favorite objects, I would also mention the Moresque table lamp, inspired by the Alhambra Palace, MRND lamps, the Neon Art alphabet, which started a whole trend, the Inception silicone dish rack, which resembles the Manhattan skyline and yes, Christopher Nolan`s movie played an important role in its genesis. Seletti also teamed up with photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari and artist Maurizio Cattelan, the pranksters between Toilet Paper magazine. The result was Seletti wears Toilet Paper, an irreverent collection of printed bowls, trays and kitchen towels, that would steal a smile even from the Pope. Stefano Seletti is happy with his achievement :
“Maurizio Cattelan, who has made pieces worth a million euros, now does the opposite: a million pieces for a euro […]I wouldn’t claim that what we’re doing in commercial terms is political, but it really does seem to me to be one of the most farsighted application of design”, said Seletti in an interview for www.klatmagazine.com
You`ll be surprised to know that, despite owning a sprawling kingdom and being frequently dubbed the Fornasetti of the new millennium, you can spot Stefano sporting his trademark beard at Ostelo Bello, a hostel in Milan which he considers to be one of the most cosmopolitan places in town. If you`re not planning a trip to Milan soon though, you can still get a glimpse of his universe here, in Bucharest, at Neogalateca or Atelier Anda Roman.