Our interview with minds behind the Italian company making products for the "urban nomad"
With backgrounds in architecture, landscape and graphic design, the minds behind DDP design studio have spent their respective careers observing the very intimate impact their work has on our everyday lives. From these undertakings DDP joined with italian manufacturing company Elmec to create Almove, a product design company making goods for the demanding life of an urban nomad. By sticking to clean lines, essential forms and lightweight materials, Almove's products each solve a different singular need.
We were drawn in by the intriguing simplicity of wares like the contracting coat hanger while attending the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair, and spoke with co-founder Gabriele Diamanti to learn more about what he and partners Lorenzo De Bartolomeis and Filippo Poli are doing with Almove.
Your products are for the urban nomad. Are they inspired by your own trips and experiences as design-hopping individuals?
When we invented this brand, we started from the philosophy of the urban nomad, trying to find a concept that would be very up-to-date with the daily life of the modern society, which is deeply influenced by the 2.0 culture: travels, interaction, mobile work, connection with friends and colleagues things are not only immaterial experiences, but also tangible objects.
As young people always in motion, and also passionate about traveling in our free time, we thought that the "new nomadism" was the ideal concept for the brand, continuing the reality of "liquid modernity". That's why we even put the concept of movement in the brand name.
It is a strong concept and it's also very inspirational for new designs and innovations because the life-in-movement presents a lot of unsolved issues that are a very good starting point for a designer's mind.
How does the kind of design you create differ from other forms of design—furniture for example?
Every designer always tries to invent something new. But there's more in our products: we try to create new typologies. If one designs a new chair, it will be mostly recognizable as a chair. Of course an innovative one, but it still is clearly a chair.
With the Almove brand, we mostly try to invent new kinds of objects, something that didn't exist before. This is very exciting, but it also carries a drawback: sometimes people don't understand a product until we show them how to use it. So we have to spend a lot of effort explaining and communicating our simple innovations.
Material choice seems to be a key factor in your work. What are you using and why?
We use aluminum as the main material for the Almove products. This is for two reasons: the first one is the lightness and strength of the material that make it ideal for carrying in suitcases, pockets, backpacks, etc. Secondly, the company we collaborate with is really highly skilled in the cutting, bending and milling of metals... so we want to show off this talent and turn it into beautiful things.
Of course, we don't preclude the possibility to use other materials, but the visual language of our products is mainly based on aluminum, with details and other parts made of textiles.
Lots of your products, like the business card holder, are multi-functional. Is this a focal point when you're creating your items?
Definitely. This is always in our minds because we really want to create a new user experience when we design a new object. So when we think about a problem to be solved, we always think about it in a global way, keeping in mind that with design, it's not about the object itself but it's about the needs of its user.
Who are you aiming your products at?
The urban nomads, as described in the first answer, are people of very different age, culture and gender. Many times we discovered that fresh and smart objects, like the walk around bookmark, that we initially intended for young people, are also really appreciated by people in their 60s and reach a wide range of users.
So we can say that Almove items are for young people of every age. Whatever their age, our clients are always people that are careful to details and high quality products.
For the contemporary nomad, what are the biggest things you think they need to make their traveling easier?
In the past the biggest needs of a nomad were related to surviving. For example, the need for eating, drinking and shelter. The needs of the new urban nomad are more related to the social life: to communicate with other people, to work out of the office, to enjoy travel in the lightest possible way, or simply to solve more ephemeral problems encountered in the nightlife of the city, moving from a place to another.
Almove's products are all made in Italy—any reason why you've kept things Italian?
Well, we are Italian! Joking apart, the Almove adventure is born in close collaboration with the Italy-based company Elmec, which decided to trust us as art directors. Moreover, this partnership rapidly turned into a friendship, so we would never want to go elsewhere to propose our ideas. We believe in the values of quality and highly skilled craftsmanship, and this company, like our country, is permeated by those values. Of course, that implies higher costs and higher prices, but we think the Almove client can understand this added value very well.
Where will you be traveling next?
Yesterday we were in Stockholm, today we are answering your questions from Barcelona. The day after tomorrow we will be back in Milan. So, who knows?