The Italian Design Star Reveals His Love of Motorbikes, Fellini and the Female Form
Within a converted leather factory in Milan, Brazilian photographer Ruy Teixeira explores the well-curated treasure trove that is the home and studio of architect and designer Fabio Novembre. One of Italy’s most celebrated creatives, Novembre is known for his whimsical furniture designs, as well as playful pop installations and interiors for the likes of Fiat, Blumarine and Via Spiga. “The mass of objects that surround me are more like wrecks of my past adventures, memories of people, pledges of friendship,” he admits. Novembre’s own signature pieces can also be seen throughout the space, including the cheeky Him & Her chairs, whose plastic seats mimic the backside of the male and female form. “There's one exact thing that I've seen a million times and still remains the biggest inspiration of my work,” quips Novembre. “The female body!” Currently putting the finishing touches to his exhibit design for the Grafica Italian graphic design retrospective, opening next month at the Triennale Design Museum as part of Salone Internazionale del Mobile, Novembre took a moment to chat about his prized possessions.
Vintage 1950s BMW R50 motorbike
I've had this motorcycle since 1994 and bought it from [British designer] Tom Dixon. After so many years, he still asks me if he can buy it back. I like it very much because it reminds me of a mechanical dinosaur. Driving it is as difficult as riding the animal.
It's actually a professional one. I bought it because it's a great way to relax after work. We are all quite good at my studio and last year won a tournament where all the architectural studios in Milan took part. It's a great way to skip formalities with potential clients that visit the studio.
Faceless Novembre portrait
I received this portrait as a present from my friend Emiliano Ponzi, the great Italian illustrator. The beard is actually his own real facial hair, exactly the quantity that grew on his face during the making of Il fiore di Novembre, the book he did for my show during the Triennale in 2009.
Dancing Fellini print
It is an original print by photographer Tazio Secchiaroli, and the "dancing man" is Federico Fellini on the set of 8 ½. I bought it for six million lire [$5,580] in 1994—I had just earned 30 million lire for my first commission. Spending a fifth on it reveals both my relationship to money and my unconditional love for Fellini.
It's part of a big sculpture/installation I did together with Tom Dixon in 1994 for Anna Molinari’s London shop. She thought it was too scary, so now it's here.
I bought it for a photo shoot but I've always thought that I still feel like the grand-grand-grand-grandnephew of a gorilla so I kept it. And sometimes I like to wear it and play with my daughters.