Gaetano Pesce

| Designbest editorial staff


e like to think of Gaetano Pesce as the creator of one the most beautiful homages paid to women and their condition: the UP5 armchair by B&B. The UP5 armchair can be seen as a tribute to fertility, femininity and comfort and after more than four decades, is still one of the undoubted icons of Italian design. Gaetano Pesce was born in La Spezia, Italy just before the outbreak of the Second World war. In the 1960s, he first gained recognition as one of the forerunners of the radical design movement. Known for his gentle personality and his ironic take on the world, Gaetano Pesce embodies one of the most independent and original voices of Italian design. Throughout his career, he gained acclaim for his personal poetry which combines art, experimentation and culture to create timeless pieces. His work, which features in the catalogues of many leading manufacturers such as Meritalia, B&B, etc., are also part the most famous design collections around the world.

What does the word beauty mean for you?
Nowadays beauty is relative.  We don't have absolute ideals any more. Values are broken up into pieces and answer only to each individual person. My idea of beauty is imperfection. Because imperfection is human. Because imperfection is open to personal interpretation and one can perfect it as one pleases, at least with one's fantasy.

What's the first item, room or place you remember?
A sea pilot-book. This is the book sailors used to sail the sea and not to get beached or hit any rocks. I come from a family of sailors and we always had this sailing manual in my home, it's very old. I used to sail away with my imagination looking at those pages in parchment. 

Is there an object you cannot live without?
The mobile-phone. This has now become an object one cannot live without. When I leave it behind, I realise I'm missing something important.

What's you secret corner or hiding place?
My place in New York, on the East River. It's a special spot, from which I see ships, boats and the water moving. It's empty and I live there on my own, in this space I have the right environment to draw and design. I never wanted it photographed.

Which room in your home do you identify with the most?
The kitchen. I think this is the right place to test out ideas, my lab so to speak. People use the kitchen to create something new but also to survive. People use the bedroom to sleep but also to procreate, the difference is that you cannot cook in your bedroom, but you can also make love in your kitchen.

Do you allow ugly objects in your home?
Yes. I also love the ordinary. Sometimes also the ordinary carries immense poetry. I don't have valuable things, I only have functional things without any claim to greatness.

What does “design” mean for you?
Everything. Originally this term meant “project/ proposal”. Deciding to go to the cinema, to bake a cake, to go on a journey... It doesn't have such a narrow meaning as one would imagine, it is not exclusively linked to an idea of aesthetics or beauty.

If you could be an item of design, what would you like to be?
The light bulb. This was an extraordinary invention which has enabled us to widen our scope, to live life also during nigh time. Of course, it is a surrogate, but it's an alternative to sunlight, the most extraordinary thing we have. The person who invented this has all my envy and if it had been my own invention I would have been extremely happy.

What bores you and what amuses you?
Repetition bores me and I love shopping. I'm a champion for consumption. I think that knowing means to consume music, books, travel, to be contrary to this means to be reactionary.

If you weren't Gaetano Pesce who would you like to be?
I have thought about this many times but it's difficult for me to imagine another path. But I still have good reflexes so I think I would have been a great tennis player.



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