There is great confusion at Paolo Stella's home this morning for the start of the digital project and new Instagram format @suonarestella.. Check it out and you will see people who dismantle, move, and pack furniture, rooms going progressively empty, walls turning bare. Paolo is the guy in the middle, the one who coordinates it all. This is the new bet for the man who, with his stories, has succeeded in the impossible mission of transforming furniture into a hot topic for most (rather than, as always, one just for those who design, produce or sell furniture for a living).
From today and for six months, Paolo Stella will make his audience (about 400k between his two accounts) participate in the progressive transformation of his home (courtesy of Boffi|DePadova and Mohd) and will use it as a background for telling stories and making things happen. What things? A bit of everything, he says being as vague as all those who know how to use social media and plan them but are also aware that testing the mood of the public and adapting with maximum flexibility is number one rule. What is certain is that @suonarestella will be a new format, a cross between a reality show, a tutorial, a masterclass in the history of design and a shopping experience. Because the big difference compared to what Stella has always done is that everything, on the stage of his new home, will be available for purchase...
Why is @suonarestella an interesting format? The answer is simple and almost banal: he takes design off its pedestal, brings it among people, explains it without a teaching attitude.
“Design should be experienced”, you say. What does it mean?
I'll explain it with an example. During the pandemic, every morning I posted a video on the beginning of my day which included enjoying a coffee listening to classical music curled up on Gaetano Pesce's Up (the B&B Italia armchair). A ritual like many others, but which gave me the opportunity to tell about this extraordinary piece of furniture as I really lived it. The reactions were so many and so enthusiastic that even Gaetano Pesce contacted me: he said that rarely had his Up been told so well. In reality all I did was give the audience what they wanted in a moment of lockdown: rituals, moments of shared intimacy, little life stories.
What is the secret of a good story on social media?
Influencers are spoken of as alien characters. In reality they are just people who have learned to use the new means of communication to tell their life. Each of them has a corner, a look. Mine is a magnifying glass on beauty: I look for beauty in everything and by dint of looking for it you can always find it. Maybe in a detail or just for a moment but the beauty is there, you have to open your eyes to see it and I help people to do it. A bit like happiness...
Do you mean that beauty gives happiness?
Absolutely. Happiness, like beauty, is everywhere and for both you have to make the effort to find them: even and above all in small things and in special moments. I have seen sick people complain less than healthy people because happiness belongs to those who, regardless of everything, take their life in hand to decide what to do with it.
Why does the world of design still appear so cold?
It has never really moved from exhibition communication - the traditional one, advertising with super beautiful photos - to digital media where the product is of interest but when it is hidden in the folds of desirable lives. Then there is a problem of self-referentiality: a lot of talk but only among those who already belong to the same circle, with obvious falls in technicalities, in jargon, with a ‘crack effect’ that is repelling.
Do you think the world of design has a high potential on social media?
Definitely. Because it brings beauty into people's homes and beauty makes us happy. What are we all looking for if not happiness? Watch out, when I say 'beauty' I do not mean luxury but small things within everyone's reach: setting the table with a special piece or with a geometry that we like, cooking a dish that gives us joy, giving us a moment of learning, relaxation, sharing… Design, which brings meaningful objects into our homes, can do all of this. Everyone can create their moment and their story if they learn to tell it.
With what logic will you redecorate your home in @suonarestella?
There will be no distortion of my taste. But everything will change, the house will be set up with the furniture of my first partner, De Padova, with lamps and complements from different brands and eras (in partnership with Mohd), with pieces from a capsule created in collaboration with the Palomba Serafini Associati studio. @suonarestella will therefore tell, through my experience and in social mode, the story of one of the most important Italian brands. All this, as well as on my social accounts, will also become an episode of Like, on La7. It is an answer to the question that more and more design brands are asking themselves in the era of the pandemic: how can we tell ourselves. The time has come to invent new formats.
Only a person with a following like yours can afford to create such a project with a very good chance of making it a business. What does a finding like this say to the world of furniture?
It must be seen from another point of view. Why do I have following of this type? Because I tell about life. To design brands I say: tell about life and not furniture.
Cover photo by Manuel Bifari