“Less than perfect” surfaces key to sustainable design, says materials expert – Car Design News

“Less than perfect” surfaces key to sustainable design, says materials expert – Car Design News

Head of materials at Chris Lefteri Design, Gaia Crippa, speaks to Car Design News ahead of the CDN Milan Design Night

Gaia Crippa is the head of materials innovation at London-based studio Chris Lefteri Design, which works closely with the automotive industry. Ahead of CDN’s Milan Design Night, where Crippa will be speaking as part of the panel discussion, the designer shared her thoughts about the design week and luxury. 

Car Design News: Why is Milan important for designers in your field?

Gaia Crippa: Milan represents a unique opportunity for designers from around the world to converge and share their visions of the future, bringing together diverse perspectives. In recent years, an increasing number of industries, such as tech and automotive, have begun to show interest and exhibit at Salone del Mobile, offering designers even more comprehensive insights into the evolution of peoples’ lifestyles.

Chris Lefteri design CMF 5

CMF moodboard by Chris Lefteri Design

As a CMF designer and material expert, I look forward to visiting exhibitions and installations at Salone because they provide a sense of our societal direction. Interior designs reflect individuals’ most authentic personalities and beliefs. Observing the evolution of interior design offers valuable insights into broader societal changes. Interiors reflect the cultural, technological and environmental shifts happening around us. 

As designers, we should encourage people to accept less-than-perfect surfaces

This year, I am particularly hopeful to encounter truly authentic sustainable materials — materials that embrace imperfection and defects. We, as designers, should encourage and educate people to accept less-than-perfect surfaces, embracing these qualities is key to a more sustainable future with less waste.

CDN: What are your predictions for how luxury will evolve in terms of materials?

GC: I see there being an emphasis on sustainability, authenticity depth of and narrative. The future of luxury materials lies in those that are timeless, long-lasting and carry compelling narratives that deeply resonate with their owners. 

I envision a shift towards materials that tell a unique story, particularly regarding their provenance. For example materials sourced locally, where the resources have a profound connection to the manufacturing site, embedding each product with a distinct sense of place and history. 

This approach not only promotes environmental sustainability through metals and minerals produced in ways that protect the environment, ensuring that their extraction contributes positively to the local community. It also adds an unparalleled depth to the luxury item itself. 

CDN: Which other industries or disciplines do you explore in Milan during design week?

GC: The industries that capture my interest the most include interiors, automotive and tech exhibitions, as well as materials suppliers’ showcases. I make it a point to visit as many exhibitions as I can from material designers and manufacturers, with the Kvadrat and Alcantara showroom always being a priority on my list. I also follow Eurocucina closely, an exhibition focused on the evolution of kitchens and food, highlighting the integral role of design in everyday living spaces.


Kvadrat Technicolour installation by Peter Saville at the 2021 Salone del Mobile (Credit: Matteo Girola)

CDN: Which exhibits and installations are you most looking forward to?

GC: I am particularly excited about the installations from new brands, independent creatives, young designers and students. They have the freedom to explore progressive themes, often providing the most interesting glimpses into the future trends for the next two to three years. 

Their work also paves the way for the most innovative design solutions, materials and consumer preferences. It is in these creative explorations that I usually find the most interesting “seeds” that have the potential to grow into significant trends in the future.