MIREI MONTICELLI interview with Oh, DA!
by Ioana Mocanu
We were so happy when, a few months ago, we discovered Mirei Monticelli, an extraordinary Milan-based young designer who started her career in her birth place, the Philippines.
Studiomirei was founded in 2019 and it is deeply rooted in creating conscious and sustainable lighting and objects while working indiscriminately with industrial and traditional processes.
On the same year, The Nebula suspension lamp designed by Studiomirei won the Salone Satellite Award at the 10th edition of the Salone Satellite. It was judged by an international jury of leading figures from the design world - designers Davide Groppi, Luca Nichetto and Eugeni Quitllet; journalists Silvia Nani (Corriere della Sera) and Ellen Froissart (Associate Editor, Bee Medias publishing group); Giuliano Mosconi, President and CEO of Tecno/Zanotta; Stefano Seletti, Creative Director, Seletti and Marc Zehntner, Director, Vitra Design Museum – chaired from the very first edition by Paola Antonelli (Senior Curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA New York and curator of the XXII Triennale di Milano).
As a philosophy of creation, Mirei believes that one has to be honest and faithful with his work, and then everything will come naturally, but more details about her experience in the world of design, about what inspires her and how she got here, you will find out in the following lines.
Because she impressed us with her creativity, her ambition and her courage to follow her passion and give it voice through the light, we thought of getting to know her better and thus be an example for any young designer at the beginning of his career, who wants to listen to his inner voice. Mirei is definitely a model of inspiration!
1. Who is Mirei Monticelli and what’s her background?
I am Mirei, a Filipina designer based in Milan since 2014. In our studio, we mainly design sustainable lighting pieces that elegantly combine craft and technology.
My career path has been influenced by my parents in their individual way. My mother is an fashion designer, an artist and a creative person at heart. My father instead, is an engineer - very logical and analytic. I spent most of my childhood and adolescent years in the Philippines, then I moved to Italy to finish my studies of Design and Engineering at Politecnico di Milano.
When I was growing up, my mother would take me around the islands of the Philippines for work. During these trips, I met one of the communities she works with in an island called Catanduanes. They weave banana tree fiber to make this beautiful fabric called banaca. When I started my own design practice, I felt like I had to incorporate those woven fabrics into my work because I really felt a deep connection to it.
2. Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?
Being an artist seemed second nature to me because I grew up surrounded by art. Even if I tried to do many different things before finally accepting that I am an artist, I already knew deep in my heart that my path would eventually lead me here.
3. Can you tell us about the process of making your work? How has your practice change over time?
My work is very material oriented. I need to get to know a material, spend time with it, learn what it can do and how I can form it to be able to make something. I am very hands-on with my work.
I also try to keep up with the times and keep learning new technologies, new softwares to integrate into my work. I believe in the power of technology to push us to a better future, if it is properly integrated into our culture and heritage.
4. What role does the artist have in society?
Though art is seen as a form of self-expression, artists must serve the people they belong to. It could be through different means - provoke change for the better, providing empowerment to those who are weak, or providing a voice to those who are afraid to speak up. There are also artists that provide a respite or an escape from every day life simply by providing beauty and inspiration. But one thing is in common - artists are there to make people feel alive.
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