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History Lesson: Paola Navone’s new tableware collection for Serax

JUN 23, 2016 | By Aditi Sharma Maheshwari
History can still find relevance even in the present. Exemplifying this was fish patterned tableware by Italian designer Paola Navone, released by decor brand Serax that was displayed at Merci dining at Maison et Objet Paris 2016. It pays an ode to the utilitarian glassware produced during the Great Depression that proved to be an inexpensive and practical solution for American homes. This revived and reimagined green tinged collection – titled Fish & Fish – contains platters, glasses, jars, salt and pepper shakers, and a vodka carafe. In a conversation, Paola told us about her inspiration and the process behind developing the line. Here are some excerpts:
ELLE DECOR: How did the idea of creating a series of tableware come about?
Paola Navone: I love designing objects related to food. In my kitchen I have a huge collection of plates, glasses, cups, bowls and tools from all over the world. I enjoy setting my table with friendly and easy tableware, every day in a different way.
ED: What was the inspiration behind Fish & Fish?
PN: I was born in March, and fish and water are my natural elements. The fish motif showcases my Mediterranean and Oriental roots and it is also one of my favourites. I use it a lot in my projects in different forms and colours – orange, blue, red, green. It is a universal motif; it is natural, democratic and joyful. Also, coincidentally, my dear friend Daniel, art director of Merci, published a book about herrings… and viola, there was another connection.
ED: What did your initial sketches look like? How did you research over the topic?
PN: My creative process is always very simple, almost spontaneous. My head is somewhat like a “bin” where I stack everything I have ever collected in my nomadic life. When I start thinking about a new project, what I need magically jumps out of the “bin”. The idea was already there somewhere.
ED: What materials did you use?
PN: Most part of the collection is made with a kind of glass that belongs to the American manufacturing tradition of the 1930s Great Depression. This moulded glass is solid, practical and not expensive. I wanted to do a project with this technique using jadeite and milky glass, and a transparent glass. The large fish trays are made in hammered aluminum.
ED: Could you describe the process of designing the collection?
PN: The job of designer is giving interesting shape to things – from a plate, vase to even a washing machine. There are endless ways to do it. My way has much to do with simplicity and respect for things and traditions. Today more than ever, I like imagining objects with a friendly and serene look made with natural materials. I am always looking that special and imperfect beauty produced by craftsmen.
ED: How did the final product come about?
PN: It was very funny, thanks to the creative complicity of Axel and Frank from the Serax management team. Contamination between an austere material born in America and the fresh and light fish shape was a special idea that we all loved from the first moment. When we saw the collection for the first time, we were all surprised. It was fresh, fun, easy, iconic, simple and original, combined with a little history lesson.
ED: Tell us about your association with Serax?
PN: I met Frank and Axel with Daniel and we connected in the first go. We spoke about how we would like to work together on something special that would combine my Mediterranean influences and Serax’s know how.
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