When our team got together to talk about which female designers to highlight for our Women in Design series, Paola Navone's name kept coming up. Her design pedigree is long, but lately she's been in the spotlight both for her pitch-perfect interior designs, and for product designs with mass appeal—and mass distribution.
Paola Navone was born in Turin, Italy, in 1950. She studied architecture at the Polytechnic University there, before making a move to Milan. She was part of '70s avant-garde design group Alchimia, and later the Memphis design group, whose colorful, irreverent designs defined the look of the 80s. For a time afterwards she lived in Hong Kong, and Asian art came to have a huge influence on her designs.
As a designer, she has a tremendous range of talents, working as an architect, interior designer, and art director as well as producing furniture, home goods, and textiles. Paola has worked for many high-profile brands such as Armani Casa, Knoll International, Alessi, Driade, Natuzzi, Casamilano, Molteni, Poliform and Gervasoni, but she's also created designs for retailers like Crate & Barrel and Anthropologie, bringing her pieces a little closer to the reach of the average consumer.
Her designs have a richness to them that you don't often see in the work of other designers, using texture and unusual shapes to draw the eye in. Her love for travel and for handicraft mean that she's always searching the globe for the perfect piece to add to an interior. This gives her designs a certain timelessness, a perfect mix of then and now, here and there. She describes her process as more an act of selecting than designing: "I'm collecting all the time. It's not analytic or focused. It's an exercise I do wherever I go, whatever I'm doing. It's a kind of paranoia. I just select things."