LDF Interview with Laetitia de Allegri and Matteo Fogale

Why did you choose this particular tile?

M: “It was the input from Johnson Tiles that led us. We talked through the design and explained what we wanted to achieve and it came from their perspective and knowledge of what would work. Again we had some restrictions with the space, it had to be a floor tile and it would be subject to heavy foot traffic – it can’t be slippery and so had to have a matt finish.”

L: “The main thing was that we wanted this gradient of colour and shade effect across the tiles and they knew how to make that happen. Each tile was bespoke made for the exhibition and has 3% less colour than the one before to create the effect. It’s a great opportunity to use tiles in a way that you wouldn’t expect and to use them to create line drawing effects and play on perspective, a theme from renaissance art that was important to us.”

Do you have a particular favourite Johnson Tiles product? 

L: “Ah yes, we are a fan of the old tiles in beautiful colours.”

M: “It’s interesting to see where the edges are that little bit off, more handsome, historic, more unique.” 

L: “But having said that we also love the Prismatics range and especially love all the colours they have.”

How did the Johnson Tiles collaboration come about?

M: “Through LDF – we knew about Johnson Tiles’ involvement and we wanted to make the most of the opportunity to be a part of it.” 

L: “We presented our work and ideas to them earlier this year, told them we were really keen to do something for the London Design Festival and that we wanted to be part of a collaboration.”

M: “Kindly, they really liked our work and saw the potential of working with us. We feel like they really understand design and have passion for it. Also they really understood us and our way of designing.”

L: “They are willing to experiment which is great for a designer.”

M: “It’s very nice to work with a historic company from the UK. We’re not from here but we’ve been working here for a while and we are very interested in the heritage of manufacturing here.”

What projects are you working on next?

L: “We are working right now on a shop floor design and fitting for a fashion brand called MIH jeans, a women’s fashion brand. We have designed a new shop floor that’s going to launch in November, and have been busy designing and arranging all the concepts. It’s very exciting.”

M: "We like to always be doing something different."

Catch the installation at the V&A, as part of the London Design Festival from the 19th to 27th September.

In your own words, could you tell us a little more about the installation?

L: “What we wanted from the start was to create an experiment. Something that was not just a piece of design to look at but also an experience.”

M: “We wanted to create a landscape of shapes emphasising the perspective of the viewer from both ends of the bridge, with a tile floor playing the role of the line drawings. We hope walking through it will teach about the effects of perspective, and that it will represent a multi-coloured radical effect that people could really feel and hopefully enjoy.”

What was the inspiration behind the piece?

L: “Well we were designing for this special area of the V&A so we wanted to take inspiration from the museum itself. We really like to go and visit for inspiration anyway and so we started looking around at the space that we had been allocated. In the Renaissance space below we have large-scale works displayed in the context of cityscapes, where the light comes through great tinted glass walls. These were our starting points. We decided to create something dreamy, surreal and with floating feelings that would work with the glass materials on display next to it. We’ve tried to match our work to what’s around the exhibition.”

Can you talk us through the practicalities of designing for a bridge space?

M: “Obviously we had a lot of restrictions, working within the proportions of the bridge. We’re working with something that is very narrow and very long, so whatever you’re going to do it has to fit this type of proportion and it’s a space that people are going to use. You can’t block the way – there are health and safety issues and it must be wheelchair friendly. So we couldn’t just do whatever we wanted but had to think about creating an experience that worked with the environment.”

It’s such an old building – you’re aware of how you need to be very careful and can’t risk anything. You can’t hang or support anything to the bridge; you have weight issues to think about. So obviously that was taken into consideration from the starting point.

So we thought about this a lot with the concept and also with the materials we had in mind. There were things we wanted to do that wouldn’t work; there was lots of testing and trying again. The key was to work with the bridge and not against it, you had to use the positives and we just took all the space we had around.”

Credit: Olivia Estebanez

Tomorrow the London Design Festivalkicks off ten days of design inspiration across the capital. We can’t wait for the unveiling of our collaboration with international designers Laetitia de Allegri and Matteo Fogale at the V&A. You can see their installation, ‘Mise-en-abyme’ on the bridge over the Medieval and Renaissance galleries at the V&A.

Here we are delighted to share an interview with the designers alongside some behind the scenes images of the creative process. You can also get a sneak preview from the London Design Festival here.

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