As with each of our encounters, with Böjte-Bottari it all started with a case of love at first sight. It was above all a visual attraction. A form, a material. Maison & Objet 2017. The Riflessi vase. A sculptural container that seems incredibly simple in its structure at first glance but that is in fact a work that only a true master would be capable of creating by blowing a single piece of glass. An object with a touching delicacy that seems to make the flowers arranged within it appear to be floating. For its creation, as for that of their personal projects – she at the studio of Patricia Urquiola, he at the Habits consultancy firm – Gaia Bottari and István Böjte took a great deal of time on experiments that could bring design into everyday life. An introspection that got them spotted by the Paola C. exhibition space located right at the heart of the extraordianry Milanese neighbourhood of Brera. Having worked together for the first time a few years ago – winning two prestigious professional competitions on the way – lady luck seems to be smiling on the Böjte-Bottari partnership once again. Interview with two raw talents whose complementary skill sets mean that we are sure to come across them again in the very near future in the world of design.
When we design something, whether a product or a graphic pattern, we would like them to become gentle presences in the everyday life.
Gaia, István, could you tell us about yourselves?
We are an Italo-Hungarian couple of product designers based in Milan. I was born in Varese, a little city in the north of Italy surrounded by lakes and mountains. István is Hungarian: he comes from an unpronounceable name town in the old Transylvania.
During the day we work respectively for two important design studios and, in the time we have left, we conduct our personal projects.
What has your career been like to date?
After attending the same design university, we approached two really separate careers. Just before my graduation, I started to work for Giulio Iacchetti. In that period I developed a strong capability for chromatic, tactile and decorative identity of products. Since 2015 I’ve been working at Patricia Urquiola studio. Right from the start, I had the great chance to focus on furniture and exhibition project for the most prestigious firms in the fashion and design industry. That was an huge shift for my personal career.
I belongs to a Hungarian goldsmiths family and from my childhood I really got knocked into this world. I guess that was my creative imprinting. When I moved in Milan I started to approach the Italian design culture and more specifically the relation between design and new technologies. Currently I work at Habits, an industrial design consultancy, where I designed interactive experiences, physical and digital products for global tech corporations. Only few years ago we’ve tried, for the very first time, to work together. We decided to enter two important design competitions and amazingly we won both of them. It was a pretty clear sign for us.
How long have you been living here?
We’ve been living here for almost two years now.
How did you create the concept for your apartment, and how did you choose the furniture?
This place has a very spontaneous story. We’ve found it quite by chance and we immediately fell in love with its light. When we first moved in, it was completely empty, but we never urged to furnish it.
We still conceive of our apartment as a constantly evolving space, a stratification of things that tell a lot about our stories. At this very moment we’ve come this far, but probably in one year everything will look completely different. It’s always surprising how any object could highly change the atmosphere of the space.
Could you tell us about your experiences as a designer? What is your signature creation?
We always focus on the creation of valuable experiences. When we design something, whether a product or a graphic pattern, we would like them to become gentle presences in the everyday life. Something people has the pleasure to be surrounded with.
On the other side, we really try to keep in mind the original reasons that have led the client to ask for our help. It may sound assumed, but nowadays many designers easily forget it.
What approach do you take to your work? Who takes care of what?
I guess the real wealth of our duo is the combination of entirely different skills. Starting from our multi-disciplinary background, we handle many kinds of projects from product design and digital solutions to graphic and creative direction.
I’m definitely the inventive one of the couple. My approach is rooted in simplicity and visual culture. István is much more pragmatic and technical than me. However, as it always the case, everything starts from a dialogue.
Why did you choose to work with this glass?
Riflessi was our really first experience with glass. From the very beginning, our intention was to explore its physical limits in order to go a little bit further: doing, if possible, something unexpected. At first sight our vases look incredibly simple in their structure, but in fact only a real master may be able to blow them from one unique piece of glass. Luckily, here in Italy we had the great opportunity to work with the best craftsmen you can find in Europe. That has made everything extremely challenging.
What is your favourite material and color at the moment?
At this very moment, we are working with steel and bronze for a new upcoming project, but my greatest wish is doing something with onyx. I’m literally in love with all the its shades: the pink one in particular. Nevertheless, I don’t think István feels the same way.
Could you tell us about your favourite places in Milan?
Our ideal place is no doubt Fondazione Prada. A new classic here in Milan. Indeed, in our leisure moments, we are used to spend whole afternoons right there.
Besides, we would like to suggest the brand-new Six Gallery: a lovely and very sophisticated space located in a typical milanese courtyard. Just for the truly design enthusiasts.
Where can we find you in 2018?
If you happen to come in Milan for the next design week, you will surely find us at the Paola C. showroom in Brera district presenting some new products. See you there.
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay – Translation: @thesocialitefamily