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Interview: Luciano Giubbilei

Interview: Luciano Giubbilei

Designer Luciano Giubbilei explains where his inspiration comes from


Luciano Giubbilei MSGD has always been interested in the creative process and making things that are meaningful. Moving from Italy to study, Giubbilei graduated from Inchbald School of Design and established his practice in 1997, gaining multiple awards through the years. His aim is to create beautiful things that really touch other people but that also have impact for him, and his personal interests are closely reflected in his work.

“The gardens I made in the beginning were very architectural,” he says. “I was interested in black-andwhite photography, photographs of Villa Gamberaia and Japanese Zen gardens, how it felt so peaceful having no colour.” Art is another influence, and Giubbilei has partnered with several artists throughout his career.

One of Giubbilei's early gardens in London

“It is important to understand your focus,” he says. “Which conversations you want to have, where you want to spend your time. I’ve had my studio now for 23 years, so how do you keep on moving? You have to change the way you do things, meet other people and have different conversations. It’s through dialogue with other creative people that you can stimulate ideas and move your work forward.”

This philosophy led him to Fergus Garrett at Great Dixter in 2011, resulting in an experimental residency that Giubbilei explores in his book, The Art of Making Gardens. “To a certain extent, I use colour now, and flowers, but the spaces still have the same feel. That’s from thinking in a certain way about composition and the feel of the garden.”

A more recent garden project in Morocco

His journey has led to larger-scale landscape projects and an evolution in the way he works. “I’m much more of a listener now, and I have a very different pace,” he explains. “I realise I need more time. It’s being there, looking at the space, having a dialogue with clients which forms ideas and develops the garden.”

Recent projects in Dallas, Tuscany, Dublin and Formentera have been ongoing for almost five years. “I never set out to be like this. It just became part of the development of the project. It needed that time.” The project in Tuscany is particularly close to his heart, because it was the first time that he worked back home in Italy, and as a studio.

There are seven in his team, and Giubbilei also works with a writer as part of his practice. “I find that writing and recording information and the sensations you have on site is much more tangible when you get back than photographs.” However, studio work does start with cut outs and images, and creating a picture wall. “We work on a drawing board with pencils, and go back and forth from the wall to the drawing board,” he explains. “You’ve already had an idea on site, so it’s just a matter of refining it. That’s the important part of recording things, because when you go back to the studio, things change. Features look very different on plan to when you were there.”

An ongoing project in Tuscany

In 2017, Giubbilei extended his practice with the purchase of the Potter’s House in Mallorca. Previously the home and studio of ceramicist Maria Antonia Carrio, the workshop now offers residencies to other makers, starting this September with a show by ceramic artist Maria Kristofersson. “It’s a place for experimentation and dialogue with other creative people,” he explains, “to stimulate things that we do in the studio. I want to support people who are not well known but have exceptional work, and they will support us with their creations and conversation.”

So, what next for Giubbilei? He continues to expand his interests. He has recently been undertaking his first public commission at Raby Castle, County Durham. There are more exhibitions and possibly other ceramic projects in the pipeline. Whatever comes next, it is sure to be interesting, beautiful and meaningful.

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