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Classical composition

Pilar Von Pilati discusses how a combination of family inspiration and travelling helped in developing her 'contemporary classic' style.


Pilar Von Pilati discusses how a combination of family inspiration and travelling helped in developing her 'contemporary classic' style.

Having grown up surrounded by a household of creativity, studying architecture and interior design across Europe, Pilar Von Pilati followed in her family's footsteps.

Now in charge of the second generation of the Pilati Company based in Munich, Germany, Pilar has worked on a number of architectural projects and stand-alone pieces for offices, hotels, boats and private jets.

What is your first memory of being interested in design?

I have grown up in a family of interior designers; both my parents and my brother are designers, so interiors and designs were always around me. My whole childhood was full of beautiful places and things changing all the time.

As a child, you don't understand it in the beginning, but you see how your parents are so excited about interiors - then when you're five years old you start doing your room already, and standing toys in certain positions. It was very nice growing up in that sort of environment.

Did you have any formal training in interior design?

Yes, I studied in Edinburgh, Scotland; I did my bachelor. I then later moved to Paris where I went to an arts school and did another degree there.

After that, I realised how much the architecture part is also important, which is when I moved to London and did a masters in architecture and interior design.

I did a lot of travelling and witnessed lots of different ways of looking at interior design. In Edinburgh it was all very technical, I needed to know every structure and how everything is built, whereas in Paris no one was interested in the working drawings - they said that I would have other people doing it for me - and that they need to be decorative.

Everywhere I went, I felt that I needed to start from scratch, as the concept of interior design was perceived completely different in each place.

What was your first design?

For my first client I think I remember designing a sideboard, this will stay with me for the rest of my life. Designing furniture pieces, a very individual piece to fill the perfect space, is a wonderful accomplishment.

Would you say that your style could be described in a few words?

Our company has been known for having a ‘contemporary classic' style. It is important that the values of the classic are not forgotten, and that the quality (which is lacking quite a lot nowadays) is kept at a high standard.

What are the key trends emerging in commercial interior design?

Individuality. I think as people we develop into very individual persons.

Every day you go out, and the way you dress is different to that of others, adapting your own style, the same idea goes for interior design - your home should not be the home of your neighbour. You want people to see your taste, your colour choices - this should be reflected in your choice of interiors.

Where do you get your inspiration from for each individual project?

I like to walk, go to operas, see exhibitions, and view wonderful art pieces. I can be inspired by paintings, and the colour combinations used within them - it's a beautiful way to see wonderful amalgamations of colour. I go home and think ‘maybe I can incorporate this into that'.

What has been your most challenging project so far?

The Swarovski crystallized event was my most challenging project, as I was given an invitation asking if I could design a piece. It took months before I could even start thinking about a piece. If you're a porcelain maker you do plates, but if you're a designer you can design anything, and sometimes that openness can be really difficult.

I arrived with a three-meter huge pavilion and they liked it very much - I am so pleased.

To start building a piece completely from scratch is very difficult, because normally you would plan a finished product. The frame was built in Asia, then it was tried and tested. We brought so many people together to finish it in the end.

The base construction for the pavilion was done in Asia by someone who does outdoor furniture.

Textiles came from France, then the application from Swarovski. It was a very time consuming but awarding process.

Which three objects best illustrate your design personality?

There isn't any one thing in particular, but I'd say that all my furniture pieces make a feature of some very intricate detailing.

If you could have worked on any design project worldwide, what would you choose to do?

Completely free designing. I think every piece is so challenging especially the variation, and it's never nice to be cornered, and to have projects go in only one direction.

If some one asks ‘do you have an idea for...?' I can brainstorm. I also think what's really nice is using different materials, as you learn with every project.

For example, I had contact with Swarovski crystal before, but I suddenly had a closer relationship with the product since [making the pavilion] and got to know the material, how it worked and tried combining the material with others.

Later you learn so much more about it - this is how you collect experiences.

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