Milan-based architect and designer Piero Lissoni, a 2005 Hall of Fame inductee, has lent his design prowess to projects large and small, including an Alessi espresso maker, a United Arab Emirates mega-resort, and everything in between. This past year saw Lissoni's namesake firm win a speculative competition with a design for a futuristic aquarium and planetarium on New York City's East River. Further south, Lissoni recently unveiled a model unit for Villa Lissoni, a village of Miami Beach waterfront retreats boasting Boffi kitchens and neighboring the in-progress Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach, also by the designer. Here, the talent divulges his daily routine and what he has on the boards.
Interior Design: Where did you grow up, and how did it influence your work?
Piero Lissoni: Milano. Lucky for me, my family was very curious. My parents worked in antique restoration. They taught me to be interested in design.
ID: Your degree was in architecture, but you’ve done everything from product and furniture design to graphics and branding. What do you like most about designing a building, and how does that compare to designing a piece of furniture?
PL: At the Politecnico di Milano, we are trained to be architects. To be an architect you must be able to change up your skills and design for interiors, including furnishings. I like to design everything. My process is a bit schizophrenic, if you will—I jump in and out between scales. The most important aspect of my work is proportion.
ID: What does a typical day look like for you?
PL: It starts with an espresso macchiato and a glass of sparkling water. When I’m not traveling, I’m moving between many different teams and projects. But sometimes I need an escape—I’ll run to the museum, a coffee shop, read alone in my room, or sketch.
ID: What are a few of your recent projects?
PL: We’re currently rushing to finish new product launches for Salone del Mobile. Otherwise, we’re designing a group of buildings in Mexico City, a renovation in Budapest, and a brand new villa in Miami.
ID: First app checked in the morning?
PL: I don’t check any app in the morning. I’m free. I’ll open up a newspaper.
ID: Picture books or Pinterest?
PL: Pinterest. I don’t use it since I’m off all social networks, but my studio uses Pinterest during the design process.
ID: Best thing about your job?
PL: I don’t consider this a job. It’s a passion.
ID: What thing—inside the industry or out—inspires you?
PL: One thing is not enough. What primarily inspires me is life.
ID: Latest interiors pet peeve?
PL: Purity. Purity is banal. Cross-contamination is key, whether it be east and west or modernity and antiquity.
ID: What's one thing you can't live without?
Tour Villa Lissoni at the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach: