Exploring The Design Process – Nicci Green of Articolo
Articolo founder and creative director Nicci Green’s design process is as dynamic and fluid as the forms she is responsible for conjuring, but it is also rigorous and precise, with over a year passing between the initial ideation and the final completion of a design. In all things, Nicci is driven by her passion for exploring the endless potential of mouth-blown glass.
Living and breathing her fascination with lighting, which ranges throughout everything from the early engagement with refined materiality to the exploration of the possibilities and variations inherent in blown glass, Nicci’s design process is an extension of her passion. Initially starting with a loose sketch, the designs evolve through three-dimensional modelling and are examined with rigour, before being prototyped and subsequently hand-made in Melbourne. The final product is what the world comes to experience, but the initial designs on paper are fascinating and beautiful works in their own right. This was emphasised by a collaboration with artist Alex Watson, producing a series of prints that immortalise and celebrate the sketches produced during the design process.
The commitment to quality, artisanal craft and skilled craftspeople is inherent in each of the pieces produced by Articolo. As captured in the short film ‘Artisanally Articolo: The Makers’, the organic nature of each of the comprising parts and how they all come together seemingly effortlessly is intrinsically linked to both the making and the design process. “I tend to ruminate over each design for a long period of time, turning it over in my mind and working to resolve my inspiration and design details,” Nicci says. “Once the idea has taken form in my mind’s eye, I turn to my sketch pad and work through the design manually by putting pen to paper.” She adds, “I am someone who is never short of ideas. In fact, I often have between six and 12 different designs in the works at any one time. Aesthetically, it needs to please, however crucially it must also marry form and function. I like to consider how the design can enhance the environment it might find itself in, be it a private residence or luxury hotel, for example.”
The unique organic qualities of Articolo designs stem from Nicci’s ingrained understanding both materials and of light itself. She says, “it’s crucial to think about the way light is cast and how this can influence the ambience of a room. We also believe in pushing the boundaries of materiality and form. More specifically, I love to celebrate the artisanal nature of mouth blown glass. I am fascinated by the nuances, fluidity, and soul that is intrinsic to this process. No two pieces are ever the same. Equally, I love solid metals, such as hand-finished brass and hand-rubbed bronze, and the sense of quality and permanence they convey.”
Tried-and-tested methods have enabled Articolo to operate internationally, across varying technical specifications, and still maintain consistency. “As we operate globally, our designs must by applicable to markets across the world,” Nicci explains, “which is particularly challenging given lighting certification differs between countries and regions. However, it’s a challenge we embrace.” The key technical and engineering aspects that must be adhered to are resolved through an extensive testing phase. “With the prototype in hand, we test the light over many hours and in many environments to ensure it is robust and reflective of our commitment to quality and craft,” she says. “Once we’re satisfied, the light is certified, and the design is registered. The final step, and the beginning of an entirely new phase, is naming the collection, producing product and campaign photography, developing the marketing strategy and copywriting. All of that before the design is even taken to market! This process, from ideation to launch can take 12 months or more.”
The unique organic qualities of Articolo designs stem from Nicci’s ingrained understanding both materials and of light itself.
Like many designers and makers, Articolo finds itself in unexpected and unpredictable times. Upon reflection, Nicci reinforces that, “being flexible and nimble is important and so is being positive. We have made changes to other aspects of our business, such as a by-appointment approach to our showrooms in Melbourne and New York, however, this period won’t last forever, and we will be here on the other side with many exciting plans in the works.”