Giulio Ridolfo and Schiavello come together for the next evolution of ColourLab
The collaboration continues between master of colour Giulio Ridolfo and Schiavello, with Giulio recently travelling from his native Italy to Schiavello HQ in Melbourne, Australia, immersing himself once again in the business and broader Australian design industry during his two-week visit.
Working closely with Design Manager Nick Tennant to evolve the ColourLab palette – a collection of materials and finishes designed specifically for Schiavello furniture – conversations between the pair started well before Giulio stepped onto the plane.
“Giulio and I came together over Zoom many times in the lead up to his visit, as we discussed the current global climate and shifts in workplace environments post-Covid,” Nick says.
“Amongst a number of considerations, we’ve seen a huge rise particularly in hybrid-working globally so it’s important for us to understand this evolution in relation to the purpose of workplaces, and how this informs and influences spaces and behaviours. This thinking is central to the solutions we currently have and will continue to develop here at Schiavello to support this new way of working.”
According to Giulio, “it’s important to work with colours and materials that can somehow be very welcoming, very new, very tactile, very clean. Less obvious in a way.”
Upon arriving at HQ, the colour master presented recent insights on places of inspiration, landscapes, material forms and processes with the broader Schiavello team. Communicating both through physical and visual references, Giulio spoke to the prominence of warmth, comfort and familiarity from textiles such as wood, with an emphasis on peaceful elements that help create a seamless shift from home to office. Natural pigments, ceramic finishes and light and dark neutral tones also featured heavily.
Giulio then met with a range of team members from across the Schiavello business, gathering insights and learning more about the brand’s strategic approach to workplace and product design philosophies from across engineering, manufacturing, marketing and sales. Touring Schiavello’s manufacturing facility on site at Tullamarine, Giulio observed the ColourLab finishes coming to life across the steel powder-coating, timber and upholstery departments.
In order to discover more about broader industry developments, Giulio spent time with various leading Australian design firms. This included visiting the inspiring National Gallery of Victoria with Carr Design’s Rebecca Trenorden and Richard Healy, before arriving at Hassell Design Studio to meet with Dan Cox and the team. Giulio spoke with each designer about the current workplace design projects they are working on, as well as their general insights around the Australian design industry.
Once the initial period of knowledge sharing was complete, Giulio and Nick sat down to further deep dive into finetuning the ColourLab palette.
“I wanted to work on some more ethereal tones that could give a sense of belonging to a more serene space,” says Giulio. “The first thing I expect for an office, it has to be welcoming. Not so intoxicating because otherwise you don’t want to go to work… We know, everybody knows that a healthy and joyful spaces helps a lot in the continuity of good resonance of someone’s days.”
Nick agrees, stating “it was important to build this core palette of neutrals, almost ‘new neutrals’ in light and dark situations that had a sense of warmth about them, and would play a role in attracting people to come back to the office.”
Materiality is something deeply considered by both Giulio and Schiavello, due to its ability to connect and harmonise a colour choice. “Materiality is a way to reconnect any material to a proper quality of colour,” explains Giulio, “so to me, materiality is something that refers to an original language of a material.”
It was this concept that led to the name of the new colour palette – ColourLab Volume 4: Materiality with Purpose.
The new palette of powder coats, timber stains and laminates has been developed with the intention to suit a broad variety of environments. Created to harmonise interior spaces with nature and alleviate the monotony of the everyday work-life routine, Nick explains “it’s a core range of both light and dark tones that, in their essence, seek to create an environment people want to be in.”
Sustainability too has played an important role, not only in terms of working with sustainable and durable materials, but in designing products with a timeless aesthetic.
“It’s about ensuring environments and the products that fill them are fundamentally informed by sustainable practices,” says Nick.
With Giulio’s visit the first step in this latest chapter of the collaboration, Nick and the Schiavello team will now work with suppliers to develop the custom formulated colours into their respective materials. Sampling, prototyping and testing will then follow, ensuring all performance requirements are met before ColourLab Volume 4: Materiality with Purpose is ready for release throughout 2024.