We got a chance to catch up with Pierpaolo Simonut, the Italian designer from STUDIOALEPEL, a company which specialises in unique product design and which heavily influenced the aesthetics of our Strada Series case.
1.Tell us a little bit about yourself and STUDIOALEPEL
My name is Pierpaolo Simonut and I work in the STUDIOALEPEL.
The studio offers a consulting service for companies in the fashion industry, from market research and the study of trends through to the actual realisation of unique collections and global projects. I’ve been involved in this sector from my boyhood because my father founded a leather company in 1952, therefore I’ve always loved the smell of leather.
STUDIOALEPEL was set up when I met my colleague Bruno Sturaro in the early 90’s. Bruno had a lot of experience in the world of leather as well. The aim was, and still is, to offer a very specific consulting service for companies in the leather industry. We know that we must keep a constant focus on renewing and innovating but our mission is to keep a strong connection with tradition and craftsmanship. We can proudly say that we are still artisans!
Personally, I research new seasonal trends for materials, colours and products and my role in the Studio is to act as an interface between style and trends on one hand and the customers needs on the other hand. A typical day for me is spent keeping in contact with clients from one meeting to another. Travelling also takes a lot of time but is a part of my life that I really appreciate.
2.What were the first influences which sparked your creative juices for Strada Series?
As OtterBox approached our studio to join them in the Strada Series project, we decided to present a general overview of upcoming trends in fashion and leather.
We selected a few different moods to inspire the project, but it was very clear from the beginning that the right direction was to focus on the quality and the craftsmanship and select the materials that best epitomise the brand that Strada Series represents.
Strada Series has been developed with the tradition of quality, innovation and modern technology which are central to the OtterBox brand.
3. In your opinion, what is the role of a designer?
Nowadays, I think that the role of a designer must be much more practical than before and support companies by mixing the energy and the soul of the artistic feeling with a realistic vision of the market, finding the right balance between the two.
4. As an international studio, how do you approach addressing the cultural diversities of each project?
Over the years we have known and worked for a range of international clients from China, Malaysia, India, USA and several European countries.
To be successful in projects coming from very different companies and cultures, I think that first of all our personal approach is very important and our efforts to understand the people, then the market and the products.
Personally, I have always tried to learn different languages to be able to communicate directly with my clients.
A lot of the time, companies lose great opportunities owing to lack of knowledge of cultural diversities.
5. Is there a high emphasis placed on using good quality materials in Europe?
Nowadays it is very clear that if we want to survive in our professional job, as producers and designers, the only way to succeed is by keeping the quality of materials consistent and adding value through the style and design of the products we conceive or manufacture.
There will always be a conscious part of consumers appreciating those features.
6.Which designers and creative people influence and inspire your work today?
That’s not an easy question! We’re involved with so many different projects, products and segments of the market, that it’s necessary to be flexible and open minded to a lot of different influences. At the same time there are some companies that I appreciate a lot in terms of their style.
I have a great admiration for the Italian company VALEXTRA. Their products represent a wonderful and perfect example of craft, tradition and innovation for timeless style. Leather is a real Italian luxury and we try to keep this direction in our own work day by day.
Beyond them, I love BRUNELLO CUCINELLI. He has a taste for beauty and high quality products that goes beyond fashion. I also admire his attention to sustainability and ethics.
Lastly, I love Scandinavian minimalism both in art and fashion.
7. What are some of the key seasonal trends you are seeing for this season?
For SS 15 we have seen many trends; from 70’s vintage inspiration to 3D geometric patterns or abstract fantasies, from mixing and matching different colours to the strong influence of sport and technical details of fashion products.
Above all however, there is a growing need for simplicity and quality. Luxury today means a high standard of quality and refined sophistication. We are living a revival of the classic tradition, a new classic for high quality products and this trend will be also stronger in AW 15-16.
Colours that best represent this quality are cuoio tan with all its shades and tones and of course black.
8. What is the best and worst advice you have received?
The best advice was from my parents; try to always be honest in life and you will never be wrong. This is also relevant in your career.
The worst advice was from a friend; I had to go on holidays to an island and asked a friend if I needed to book a hotel before going. He said absolutely not. It resulted in two days of sleeping in my car!!
9. What is your favourite accessory?
I love shoes and watches.
10. If you hadn’t gone down the route of becoming a designer, what would you be today?
My dream was and is still today to open a small and cool restaurant,so probably I would have studied to become a chef!
Shop Strada Series here!