Interview with Flavio Albanese
by Sabina Lloret

Flavio Albanese, architect, designer and contemporary art’s collector and curator, has built up his professional career through experiences outside the academic world. Acording this italian professional, the importance of lighting into a project is very high, and light is an element strictly connected to the contest.

What is lighit for you?
From a physic point of view, light is a ambiguous and unsettled phenomenon: it can be measured both as electromagnetic wave and elementary particles. At the same time material and aerial, light is the element of conjunction between ideal shapes (space, time) and concrete components of any architectural project, the most ordinary as well.
Do you work regularly with Lighting Designers?
No, we never look to Light designers. It often happens Studio Albanese draws lights and lamps custom-made.
Houses, museums, airports, ships, resorts... What project has been more complicated when considering the lighting and why?
There are no specific rules: we never project in the abstract but inside a contest which may vary from time to time. It may happen some projects that seem to be elaborate, can be instead easily worked out, while others relatively easier can present unexpected troubles and motivating forces. Every new work represents a surprise and a challenge, nobody can know where it may lead.
Of all his projects, say a lighting that has impacted especially.
Neores project: the headquarters of an Italian company, it was very stimulating under experimental point of view. It dealt with playing on external facade luminescence without damaging the landscape relationship.
You are designer too, what do you think should be considered in the design of a light?
Partly I answered at the beginning of this interview. The importance of lighting into a project is very high. What I consider is that when a building works well together and harmoniously lives with light, is not supposed to have a big illuminating engineering system. In our projects, especially those concerning interiors, the general concept of lighting is abolished in favour of furniture and ambient lights, the reason is that we consider light as the element strictly connected to the contest: furnishing, habits, personality of house inhabitants, rooms, art gallery, etc..
New technologies such as LED lighting have been involved in the recent Building Light Fair 2012. Is the concern about energy efficiency changing the practice of architecture?
There’s a equivocal to be discredited: the one identifying sustainability, ecology and energetic efficiency. Efficiency is a functional concept measuring quantity but not considering quality of a space. A highly efficient house is not supposed to be a highly livable house. A highly efficient house can be not much comfortable, not much livable, not even much beautiful house. Efficiency can be non-economical, if it looks to expensive technological devices. Living (oikos-logos, ecology) has nothing to do with energetic efficiency. Architecture deals with emotions, comfort, feelings, thoughts: all non-measurable phenomena. This can be reached through simple means: efficacy is more important than efficiency.
You have defined as a self-taught architect. Why?
It’s simply because I don’t have qualifications, a degree in architecture. Coming from a large and poor family, I worked since I was a young boy for several master shops, such as Carlo Scarpa, for example. That is why my cultural training was rhapsodic, sparkling with fragments coming from attendance of artists, musicians, philosophers. A melting pot, where architecture stood easily and accidentally out, due to unexpected circumstances. A could have been a player or a cook, who may know?
Likewise, you will have had references, would you give names?

As per my origins of Vicenza, I can’t manage without referring to creative pragmatism of Palladio and the accuracy of Scarpa’s work. Among the great modern and contemporary masters, well, I study them all, but I couldn’t identify one of them as a reference model. Maybe Mies of “less is more” not as a style but as operative concept, returning to survival work of Yona Friedman, for instance.
Architect, designer, art collector ... What side is more comfortable to you?
Contemporary art is a biologic ambient where I feel at ease. What I prefer in contemporary art is its ability to be receptive and ahead of underground changes, which are not yet visible on surface. I think we should take a look to art, if we want to understand where the world is leading to.
Between 2007 and 2010 led the architecture and contemporary art magazine Domus, how do you remember your journalistic stage?
The Domus direction call was a unexpected and astonishing happening. I’ve spent a lot of time studying, as I never experienced it. My Domus was in fact a good training where I learned and received a lot, hoping I gave a lot too. The magazine turned its form and contents and we published lots of projects by not well-known architects. By the end of term of office, I felt like psyco-phisically drained away, and it was reinvigorating to turn full time back to my architecture job .
In 1987 merged with his brother Franco Studio albanese ASA study, what difference is with the architecture of the current time?
25 years ago the attention to architecture was limited to a small number of insiders. Today, thanks to the media revolution of internet, architectonic culture widespread, there’s a higher comparison and consciousness of people. The phenomenon of Archistars, contributed to “subscribe” architecture into pop culture, allowing it to spread over “learning circles”. On the other side, we have to consider the high level reached by architecture practice which turned into a sort of show, and a certain loss of originality due to déjà-vu risk.
Teaching Is also one of its activities, which has given courses and lectures at prestigious international centers. ICandela share with any of the advice that he gave his students.
In my speaker and teacher activities I use to tell training from education apart. In-struere means inculcate, as forcing to put inside. Ex-ducere instead means to take out, to light out what is yet potentially present. I have nothing to teach to my students. I just try to stimulate them in order to get them more curious and eager to know, in order to get out of themselves the wonder inside of them. Most of all my main aim has been the one to get ourself happier : that’s it! After my teachings, I would like to know my students happier than before my lesson began.
What does the current crisis in the field of architecture and design? Is a back to basics, eliminating the superfluous? Is it over the form itself?
Back to Mies Van Der Rohe and Friedman, I think that crisis led society from a verbose and superfluous level to “necessitating” one. For sure a very prolific era has come to the end. The architectural necessitating condition is the one posing questions on substantial matters, making body to its physical, cultural and social contest. I like to evoke a the word “innocence”. We need to discover innocence from architecture, not in ethical way but in a medical way: “first: do not harm” – as told by Hippocrates. Not the shape loss but a new lighter and talking shape directed to the setting where it belongs
The economic crisis also is leading many architects to seek new horizons, such as South America Have you considered you something?
Economic crisis deeply mined status and financial resources of many architectural companies. It was hard to hold out, but we never considered to move away. Today we feel more positive to future and we aim to open new offices in the heart of Europe, in Berlin.