In the history of Italian design, few designers have been working for the same company for a long time. Luca Meda is one of them: not only did he design most of the products and displays, but also gave his contribution to the graphical and communication projects, as well as to the planning of events.
Such long-term committment led to a strong and continuous collaboration with an entepreneur, which, in turn, contributed to the formation of clear brand culture and identity. Some of the core aspects of his planning method have their roots in Meda's broad education.
He attended the Brera Academy in Milan, where he further developed his love for art and talent for drawing. In the 1960s he studied in Germany, at the famous Hochschule für Gestaltung at Ulm, founded in the post-war period to continue the Bauhaus experience, suspended with the Nazis in 1933. At Ulm, he probably developed the systemic and systematic method that characterises his modular unit projects. Finally, it is worth remembering his work with Aldo Rossi; they both thought that modernity was not to be seen as a radical break with history, and they both dedicated a particular attention to the categories rooted in memory.
Since the end of the 1970s, Meda's work has deeply influenced Molteni&C image, thanks to two kinds of products. First of all, modular furniture like the legendary 505; the idea behind each of these products may be different -sometimes more rational, sometimes more free and flexible-, but they all share the same planning method which, for instance, ensured 505's extraordinary and lasting success.
Due to its rational quality, it is possible to regularly update these systems through the ongoing introduction of new solutions, the improvement of functional elements, technical details, materials and colours. It's a kind of work in progress that becomes increasingly functional, strong, coherent with its own nature, while contemporary at the same time.
The second category of products includes a wide range of furniture: beds, sofas, armchairs and small armchairs, tables and coffee tables, elements of a true domestic landscape. Perhaps, here we can find the influence of his beloved Adolf Loos.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Loos used to say that “Pieces of furniture that cannot be moved belong to architects” (namely fixed structures, wardrobes, wall elements), while the house owner choses the other furniture “according to his or her wish, taste and inclination”. In this context, Meda chose freely according to his taste, peculiarities, preferences. He revisited memories of houses or of Milanese public spaces, by re-thinking 19th century's categories and paying homage to Mies van der Rohe.
“Pieces of furniture that cannot be moved belong to architects” (namely fixed structures, wardrobes, wall elements), while the house owner choses the other furniture “according to his or her wish, taste and inclination”.
In this context, Meda chose freely according to his taste, peculiarities, preferences. He revisited memories of houses or of Milanese public spaces, by re-thinking 19th century's categories and paying homage to Mies van der Rohe.
The Passion of Drawing
Drawing is one of Luca Meda’s favourite pastimes.
He draws all the time, on sheets large and small, with pencils, pens and felt tips, with water-colours and chalk, naturally and easily. It is a big game and work, at the same time, based on observation and memory> It is almost as if the pencil does not distinguish that just seen from that seen with his mind’s eye and puts them on the same plane.
Meda portrays what surrounds him; he creates real and imaginary architecture with precise references; he draws landscapes and the surroundings of Lake Como, flashes of home-life and portraits of rooms, beautiful girls and large nudes, the outlines of buildings, tables, chairs and sofas.
"Drawing is a passion I have always cultivated; I often throw sketches away but I keep thousands of others in the drawers and am proud of them. I also like draughtsmanship and its precision, especially mechanical design, the abstract rigour and its metaphysical air. But I think that things are finished when you start to define them. I also like architecture when it is in that suspended state and I don’t like it any more when it is finished, completed. My most important training, strangely, was at art school, at Brera.”
Luca Meda’s drawings include many pieces of furniture. His furniture also stems from a relationship with drawing. Sometimes, as in certain pictures by De Chirico, they are placed in the open air, in front of a lake or in a valley. […]
“I find furniture through drawings of interiors or portraits of houses. I do a sketch and I discover a piece of furniture. It seems like a chance process but chance is full of secret reasons.
Sometimes I take no notice of a sketch and abandon it; then I suddenly remember it and I go and look for it to finish it or work on it, and hey presto it turns into a famous piece.” […] As with an old chair, also in a machine the materials, the techniques and the production process lead to certain forms, such that they seem to become necessary. But we know that however conditional, forms always possess a dimension that goes beyond need; it concerns play and invests the meanings.”