Manuela Lombardi Borgia, Business Designer & Startup Mentor and co-founder of the Curved Wood project, dedicated to period furnishings in steam curved wood.

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YOUR NEW ‘ADVENTURE’? WHAT ARE YOU INSPIRED BY?

When after more than 25 years spent in multinational companies, the latest of which in Olivetti, I decided that the time had come to “get out” of my passion and try to turn it into a business project. From here a book was born, written with my fellow architect, dedicated to the Antonio Volpe Company of Udine that gave rise to Italian design in the furniture, the result of years of research. Then the blog Legnocurvatodesign.it was born on Thonet-style furnishings that stimulated us to make an exhibition The modern armchair, at the Credito Valtellinese Refettorio delle Stelline Group Gallery in Milan during the 2018 Fuorisalone. An exciting and memorable experience, perfect close of a project that I continue to love very much.

THE REASONS FOR BEING CLOSE TO THIS ‘WORLD’ WITH THE INTEREST AND THE DETERMINATION OF CREATING A PARTICULAR REALITY

The choice has fallen on the Thonet chair n.14 that I wanted for my new home: I have always loved it, it was my grandmother’s chair. Not only is she beautiful but I remember that when she fell, she bounced. I didn’t know it was the archetype of the design chair, an icon of curved wood. So I met my partner Giovanni Renzi, an expert in these furnishings, and a world opened up to me: that of Vienna at the turn of the late 1800s and early 1900s, an era of turning point and profound renewal in all the arts and disciplines, the cradle of modernity. Also in the way of doing business: in this context, with these furnishings, series production was born with the aim of bringing beauty to everyone’s homes. A democratic and open-minded vision in which I immediately recognized myself. And then of great beauty in all the arts and disciplines. It can be said that it all started from here, a revolutionary era that has marked forever what has followed, from the masters of the Bauhaus to the present day, to which everyone was inspired.

ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS AND IMPORTANT ELEMENTS THAT COUNTERDISTING YOUR WORK?

Exploration and trying to go beyond the known, to overcome the limits. The big engine for me is curiosity, contamination, multidisciplinarity. It is at the edges, on the border between the known and the different, that the seeds of innovation are found, which is what I deal with. Divergent thinking, creativity, draws on our inner well which must be nourished constantly. Creativity feeds on images, shapes, colors, fun, art, experimentation. I look for joy in what I do, without joy and pleasure there is no flavor or life. The risk for me is dispersion, that’s why I made planning the heart of my work: without losing direction, I would be lost in who knows what wasteland, and I would not have been able to fulfill my dreams and continue to do so.

SOME ASPECTS OF YOUR EXPERIENCE, MADE OF PRECIOUSITY AND SMALL THINGS

One of the most beautiful memories I have is certainly linked to Olivetti: I remember that when we did the meetings in the 6th floor Boardroom, at Palazzo Uffici in Ivrea, I always sat on the side facing the wall, opposite to the windows. On that wall there were two paintings by Mirò that were part of the Olivetti collection with which the walls of the whole building were full. But those in particular excited me every time. And of course they helped me to give my best. This is what beauty is all about.

COLOR IS FUNDAMENTAL FOR?…

to make sense of things, to give shape to the substance that if it were free, would not exist.
WHAT YOU COULD NOT GIVE UP…
Blue is my color, the one in which I recognize myself most. That of galaxies and still unexplored worlds, of the depth of the sea. I wear it often because it makes me feel good. And then the red, but only in the details. I like the way it ignites souls, its energy and without passion nothing is built.

WHAT YOU DON’T SUPPORT…

I really like them all. What is fundamental for me is the harmony of the whole. A disharmonious palette is unbearable to me. If I have to say, I don’t really like pastel colors because I love contrasts. And maybe because they are very bad for me.

YOU ARE A FAN OF…

(design, art, female characters) I would say everything design, in particular the graphics by Koloman Moser and Josef Hoffmann and all the Wiener Werkstätte production. I love the Judendstil, its theatricality and luxury but also the minimalist rigor of Hoffmann’s geometric black and white. I am passionate about the postcards of Mela Koehler, the Viennese mood. I love its museums, the tall windows of the buildings. I love the Mak and Leopold bookshops. And then I love very much all the revolutionary female figures who have had the courage to break the rules to which we all owe a lot. From Dora Kallmus, aka Madame D’Ora, to Coco Chanel, to great scientists such as Rita Levi Montalcini or women like Virginia Woolf. From them we must draw example and inspiration, especially the young girls.

YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER …

I love bold and courageous women who want to change the world by grounding their ideas in a sustainable way, making money. There is a need to redesign the world and women can be a powerful vanguard and their contribution is fundamental to building a New Humanism. And that’s what we’re getting ready to do.

YOUR REAL CUSTOMER …

I work with startups and young people but also with mature women who, like m, and at 50 years old, have called themselves into question and have tried to put talent and skills and experiences at the service of a better world. In the end, ideal and real customers are converging and this is good. After all, it is the goal of my mentoring courses, and it works.

PROJECTS IN THE NEXT FUTURE …

I want to help women entrepreneurs and start uppers to plan their business by putting the person at the center. Who is their ideal client, but who are also the first. The design thinking approach goes in this direction: to think of a product or service as the solution to a problem, as something that can improve people’s lives or their perception of themselves. In this way, the development of the business naturally follows and above all we make the best use of the resources we have available: time, energy and money. It also puts you in the best conditions to go and look for the money you need, and what is there.

YOUR DREAM IS …

to spread as much as possible this method which is above all a theme of mindset, of approach to the way of doing business. After all, as Luisa Carrada says, design is everywhere because everything can be designed: an object, a service, a place, the life of a community, a professional life. A new way of doing business for a new humanism and a more sustainable and ethical world. I am sure it is possible and I want to make my contribution.

THANKS TO…

You! Aside from the pleasure of being hosted in your newborn blog (and the beginnings, you know, have a special flavor), I thank you for your friendship and for being so similar to me but at the same time different. To give me the opportunity to be part of a project that I believe very much, yours, the bearer of beauty values not only aesthetic but in fact good. Of arts and crafts that are the heritage of our country and that we are foolishly risking losing and that you are carrying on with courage, determination and great professionalism. Your blankets are an experience of extraordinary quality, of pleasure and of great emotion. Everyone should have one if they love each other and know how to appreciate quality and art.

WHAT WOULD YOU DRINK IN…

any form of vulgarity, exclusion, in fact bad, exploitation of the weaknesses and fragility of others, of manipulation, self-reference and hypocrisy. I would ban the word guilt from the vocabulary and then I can’t stand those who complain and do nothing to change.

BELIEVE IN …

a higher order, that we are all connected and part of the same energy, that we are all creators. As Jodorowsky says, Truth is not accessible to us humans except for that reflected light which is called Beauty. And fortunately that our world, our country in particular, is the bearer of it in industrial quantities.

YOU HOPE THAT …

everyone will find the courage to “go out” their dreams as I did and that they will equip themselves to achieve them, without fear of making mistakes, giving themselves permission to experiment.

THE WORDS THAT INSPIRE YOU …

freedom, sustainability, tenacity, openness, independence, daring, memory, value, progress, equality, passion.

A SMILE TO…

all the young people in the world who hold our future in their hands, especially to the girls and their mothers. A great challenge awaits us, but what enthusiasm and what a beautiful emotion.

thonet 511 sedia

Thonet n. 511