by Zohra KhanJan 07, 2022
Marco Piva (b. 1952), Milanese architect and founder of one of the most influential design studios of the Radical Period—STUDIODADA—gives us a candid peek into his life where we discover the traveller and educator side of him, and the creative side not known to many. Did you know that Piva has worked in 77 cities across the world? Or that sailing is his go-to physical activity to calm the mind? We bet you didn’t know his favourite café in Milan, or the fashion brand he closely associates with! A firm believer that success is about following one’s dreams even if one is not on the front page of every design magazine, Piva gets up close with STIR in this 18-minute video where he chats about the influence of Milan on his upbringing, memorable encounters from his student days at the Politecnico di Milano , and creative disciplines that inspire him.
Piva calls himself "an old guy who likes people and stays with people”. He feels he has always been “the lucky one”, the reason being that his parents – a couple comprising exceptionally contrasting individuals – took him on extraordinary adventures through Italy when he was a kid. “What I really appreciate about my parents,” Piva says, “is that they took us through extreme holidays, looking for small and unknown places. Every time my mother and father would tell me, “Look at the beauty of this landscape, the beauty of the architecture, the beauty of the city and its museums.” His father originally belonged to Venice while mother was from Sicily. A big mix up, as he describes their marriage, Piva shares on UNSCRIPTED how he would always find the pair amusing, “I don’t know how they stayed together. My father was more romantic and open to a very free life, while my mother had more of a classic approach to life.”
While his parents sparked his curiosity to seek beauty in its lair, it was while immersing himself in architectural education that he found his true calling. In 1977, during the third year of university, Piva and his five friends (Ada Alberti, Dario Ferrari, Patrizio Corno, Maurizio Maggi, and Paolo Francesco Piva) founded STUDIODADA - an experimental practice that looked at a new vision of designing interiors and realising the potential of 'computer assisted drafting' in managing design projects. Revolutionising the practice of architecture for many years, the studio, however, was closed in 1989 and the following year, Piva founded his independent eponymous practice rooted in material research and design innovation. Defined as 'an academy of sciences more than an architecture and design firm', the 69-year-old maverick continues to seek and manifest futuristic ideas into built reality.
Speaking of driving a firm and the oddities that come with it, Piva tells us of a personal habit that annoys people who he work with: “If there’s a chance to constantly modify a project, I do it. I find it difficult to say ‘the project is over’.” Guilty of it as he confesses, Piva further states how he is often misperceived as an insecure architect and explains why bureaucracy in architectural development gets on his nerves.
Find more about him in this full episode of UNSCRIPTED.
All photographs © Studio Marco Piva, unless stated otherwise. Images may not be downloaded, copied, reproduced, or used in part or whole without obtaining permission. The photographs in this video are not licensed for personal, commercial, or public use, or use in the public domain in any form.
Curated by Pramiti Madhavji (Consultant, Content Adviser, STIR), UNSCRIPTED is a STIR-original series of quick-witted video interviews with leading design professionals who give a peek into their undiscovered lives. A melting pot of quests, revelations and quirks, the series releases a new episode every Sunday as designers reveal unheard and unknown nuggets from their lives, in response to 30 questions.