Interview with Claudio Balestri, President of Oikos
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Interview with Claudio Balestri, President of Oikos

Interview with Claudio Balestri, President of Oikos
By Editorial Staff -
Oikos colore e materia per l'architettura has participated in the project
Nicola Leonardi: You founded the Company and led its growth and development. What can you tell us about this?
Claudio Balestri: Oikos was founded in 1984 by four enthusiastic young people with no experience in this sector. We started with a shop selling colour schemes and household items, focusing on murals, colours and enamels. It was a key time as wallpaper was on the way out and a “fresh, modern” style was on the way in, with a re-emergence of wall paints. From the beginning, Oikos sought innovation in order to create sustainable materials. We started working with architectural practices very early on and, by the end of the 80s, we were attending our first foreign fairs. The Decor Centers in the 90s ensured that anyone seeking high quality coatings and paints could find what they were looking for. As the market moved towards the use of decoration to bring a 3D element to surfaces, we turned to the Italian craft tradition combined with industrial products. So began our journey to find materials apt to produce original settings without messing up nature. On the commercial side, we expanded abroad. In 2011, the “sense of matter” project began, grouping Oikos’ most original textures into families according to the relation between matter and light. This was a journey through meaning and communication, as described in the seven art volumes that became part of the Adi Design Index 2012.

N. L.: The question of colour in architecture encompasses many different values. What opportunities does colour offer in design and planning?
C. B.: Colour is essential in defining structure and spaces. It also helps with orientation and getting across the purpose of internal elements and façades. “Design the colour” is about considering various aspects tied to history, psychology, sociology, aesthetics and anthropology. Colour influences behaviour and provides stimulation that then interacts with the perception of the environment, distances and shapes. Colour is light. Light and colour can be used in a complementary way to accentuate an effect or as contrasts, to bring balance or even cancel each other out. Specific areas of architecture now study and emphasise the relation with light, focusing on controlling light sources to create different effects throughout a day. Oikos has been studying and experimenting with a direct relation between colour and matter, seeing them as expressions of a single notion of decoration. The material nature of colour and the colour schemes of matter are paradigms for a new way of considering spaces and interior decoration.

N. L.: Oikos is a combination of craft, architecture, design and art. How is this achieved in your work?
C. B.: Our philosophy combines the Italian decorative tradition with research and innovation. We are not only trying to manage with the surfaces of buildings and objects, but with the structure and the very idea of the object. It is about being involved in a project right from the outset. It was necessary to return to the basis of our decorative tradition, understand underlying reasons and then give these a modern make over. This was how our textures were born. Our products interpret thoughts, aspirations and design decisions. Oikos’ strength is an ability to adapt production to an entire array of designers’ needs and ideas, creating products suited to them.

N. L.: How important is your relationship with architects and designers?
C. B.: Every project, structure and setting is different. We work with designers’ ideas and needs. It is through interaction with designers, architects and historians that we have been able to refine our products and technology. We are always willing to engage designers and architects aiming at original solutions. Our experts, backed by our labs, help architects in every stage to solve any problem, right up to the application phase.

N. L.: GOikos’ showrooms in various countries are a new step in the communication campaign. How are they conceived and what is their role?
C. B.: To celebrate 30 years, we redesigned all the Oikos spaces in Milan, Rome, Gatteo, Turin, Moscow and London. They are places where anyone in the sector can go; it is another sign of our boundless vision. Each showroom also offers a training centre where people learn about our latest painting techniques. All the surfaces are coated with Oikos materials and colours and innovative ideas express our mission.

N. L.: Oikos’ mission says, “Our horizon is the future”. Where is Oikos looking to expand to?
C. B.: From its origins in Emilia Romagna, Oikos now exports across the world. The material nature of our products makes them unique. People have tried to imitate them, but nobody has managed to achieve notable aesthetic results with absolute technical excellence. The visual impact of Oikos “matter” is a key tool in changing how a place, a setting or a surface is perceived. Our products are suited to international markets and, today, we attend the main architecture and design events. We also work with the world’s leading designers and architects.

N. L.: Investing in R&D is also an investment in the future. What are you looking into on this front?
C. B.: For us, research stands for technological development and scientific progress, but it is also about linking old and new, renewing tradition and moving towards the future. In practical terms, this means having the most advanced labs, studying the most innovative techniques and ensuring we experiment constantly. Our work is built on the dedication and passion of our team, on a constant research and discovery to ensure we build our path ahead every day.

Colore e materia per l’architettura
Via Cherubini, 2
I - 47043 Gatteo Mare (FC)
Tel. +39 0547 681412
Fax + 39 0547 681430
E-mail: [email protected]

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