The 26th issue is the Vietnamese-American designer’s most intimate project to date, inviting readers to explore the idea of home and understand the internal narratives of the shy designer.
Sunnei’s Unexpected ‘Oggetti’
a conversation with Loris Messina & Simone Rizzo
Since 2020, Sunnei founders Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo’s have expanded into the world of industrial design with an eccentric line of objets d’art imbued with the duo’s direct, colourful design language. Eschewing the banality of common household wares, the Sunnei Objects collection reinterprets functionality with bottlenecks becoming candleholders, and doubles down on provocation with fetishistic Murano glass. Also under their Objects umbrella is a collaboration with the Italian design brand Bloc Studios, comprised of founder Sara Ferron Cima’s signature marble forms infused with Sunnei’s graphic approach to design, as well as a range of furniture, soft furnishings and tableware that juxtaposes Italian luxury with digital age zeitgeist.
Speaking in Sunnei’s collective voice, Loris and Simone dive into the conception and aesthetic musings of their latest oggetti in an exclusive interview below.
Why does Sunnei make objects as well as clothes?
Sunnei started as a menswear brand, but since the beginning we knew that clothing was just one of the many expressions it could have. Sunnei is a state of mind, an entity with its own peculiar personality transpiring from everything we do. From show to ready-to-wear pieces and any other project, a Sunnei je-ne-sais-quoi is always there. Sunnei Objects was created with the aim of reflecting people like us, who seek quality and a specific type of aesthetics in all facets of their daily lives. With each release, a set of disparate items is launched, mirroring our habits, interests and lifestyles which indeed include much more than getting dressed.
How do they help you create a world?
Sunnei Objects was spawned by the urge to escort the label’s community along their day beyond the ritual of clothing. This is something we also do with Radio Sunnei, which is a platform where you can find an acoustic and visual background 24/7. For us, these projects are as important as our ready-to-wear collections because they are means to connect with our worldwide network.
One of our most emblematic phrases is “EVERYDAY I WEAR SUNNEI”, and its real meaning is a reference to the concept that it’s not just when you are dressed with our items that you are wearing Sunnei.
Do Sunnei Objects subscribe to a particular aesthetic tradition?
We’d say that the only aesthetic tradition they subscribe to is Sunnei’s. These collections encompass many different categories of product, from Murano glasses to vinyl records, bedding, pleasure objects and much more. Nevertheless, each item corresponds to the same standards of quality, of Italian manufacturing, and our colourful yet ironic aesthetic typical of Sunnei.
In your eyes, are they particularly Italian?
Yes, they reflect the Italian tradition of design research, artisanal craftsmanship and the quest for excellent materials. What we bring is lightheartedness — why not make high-end, sex-toy-shaped decorative objects in Murano glass, handmade by the most skilled masters?
How does craft come into the picture?
Craft is what makes the difference. It’s the collision of premium quality and Sunnei’s colorful and witty spirit that makes our objects one of a kind. Just like our approach to fashion, we want our community to get the chance to have these pieces for a lifetime, which is why we need to rely on the skills of expert craftsmen to achieve such levels of quality.
What about appropriation and transfiguration?
We don’t create starting from abstract concepts as our ideas always come from reality, from what we see around us. Sometimes the starting point is something so personal that people don’t even recognise or understand it, while in other cases it’s a symbol that everyone can connect with. One example is our Torre Velasca shaped candle. This is one of Milan’s most fascinating and emblematic buildings, and the object is one of the pieces our community loves the most.
Was there a conscious effort to subvert the banality of household items?
Truth is, we just follow our own path. When we realise that we can’t find what we like on the market, we make it ourselves.
How do Sunnei Objects fit into the daily life of the Palazzina Sunnei?
When we have guests at the Palazzina, while drinking their glasses of water they often remark, “Isn’t this part of your Objects collection?” We don’t make these pieces to gather dust on a shelf, we want them to live and we are the first ones who use them. During Design Week, we hosted a dinner at our HQ for some hundred people — and what to place at the centre of each table if not one of our candles?
What part does music play in the world of Sunnei Objects?
Sunnei Objects reflect our interests, and music is certainly one of the most predominant ones. We have shared this passion with our community in different ways, including at after-show parties and through the launch of our own radio. Each season, the soundtrack of our shows is specifically produced by Milan-based DJ TOCCI who interprets what we have in mind. Naturally, we arrived at the idea of including a vinyl record with one of these tracks and other new music in each Objects collection. Besides that, we also make music-related accessories like slip mats and AirPod cases.
Tell us about your collaboration with Bloc Studios?
The founder of Bloc Studios, Sara Ferron Cima, is a friend of ours. We have always respected and appreciated each other’s works, so the idea of a collaboration has always been there and we’ve just been waiting for the right time. Finally, in 2020, we started discussing the chance of joining forces on a project to unveil during Design Week. As you can guess, it was not until June 2022 that the result of our teamwork saw the light. Mixing our two worlds, the Sunnei x Bloc Studios collection is entirely made in marble (the material Sara uses for all her pieces), featuring our playful and provocative touch. An example is the concept of outlining an iPhone-shaped inlay on the marble table — an expression of present times yet nonetheless still a kind of taboo.
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