A sustainable mindset is a matter of memory
Becoming more and more green means sometimes remembering the old ways of doing things, according to Enrico Magistro of Quadrodesign.
Talking about sustainability with QuadroDesign’s co-founder Enrico Magistro means talking about memory and family tales. Starting from the brand, which is a contemporary evolution of the family manufacturing business in water fittings based in an Italian productive district historically focused on brass. Facing the beautiful waterfront of the Lake of Orta, the region’s infamous role in destroying the lake’s wildlife is very well known in its surroundings.
Actually, brass was usually chromed to give it a more appealing aesthetic and to protect the metal surface which can’t last on its own. However, chrome-plating is a polluting process and the lake itself was used to dump the polluting residue of the manufacturing. A very clever system to get rid of industrial waste, which unfortunately is highly dangerous both for nature and for human beings.
From an eco-crisis to a sustainable renaissance
“The history of our region hit me since I was a little boy. We used to visit the first water purifiers which managed to give a new life to the Lake of Orta. I was impressed by the knowledge that the lake was dead, indeed. So beautiful, so colorful, but dead. I learned very soon that we can easily kill anything following a superficial industrial mindset”.
Once graduated in Economy, Enrico Magistro and his sister Elena, decided to literally restart the family business and give it a completely different life. A new name, new products, new materials. He decided to opt for stainless steel to enter the contemporary market with a completely innovative design product.
“I wanted to make a long-lasting and non-polluting series of faucets, taps and water fittings. And I wanted them to be designed to overcome trends and time. Most of all, I wanted to do all of this while granting our clients flexibility and simplicity: that’s why we did a lot of research to standardize the internal parts, the rough-in, which is the technical core of every concealed tap”.
Materials, functional rationalization, engineer redesign: choices are the base of the ecological paradigm
Long history short: today QuadroDesign is a young but thriving high-end water fitting brand, which cultivates a rigorous approach in terms of aesthetic essentiality and design research. It is a matter of strategy, of course. But it is mainly a matter of mindset and memory.
“Each industrial choice is made out of a sustainable attitude. We keep asking ourselves: how can we reduce, how can we become more and more good at making durable and beautiful products that may last forever and more? Anything lesser than this is felt as violence, and aggression to human beings and to the ecosystem”.
Durable materials, durable structures for stands and international fairs, even if sometimes such a choice may result in a less glittering output. “I don’t mind at all: I am sure that my clients and the international fairs we choose understand that you can’t be partially sustainable. You have to be and to work with a completely different and very old and rational system of values”.
Going back to origins and agricultural culture sometimes is the first step
During the interview Enrico Magistro unveils a deep connection to his family and to how his parents and grandparents used to live. “No waste, a strong relation with the earth and its products, the constant and undisputable will to share good food and to enjoy the fruits of the vegetable garden at home. My family came from the South of Italy, they were used to living on what they cultivated and their work was definitely linked to the earth. I think that I absorbed memories of an ancient culture even in the raging industrial growth of the Seventies”.
No surprise then that QuadroDesign doesn’t spare any resources to make the traditional and respectful way of doing things alive again. Times were mature enough for a change of perspective and to use memory to regain a more balanced relation with the concept of production and consumption.
Space and factory premises follow the eco mindset of a brand
“Some years ago my sister and I felt the urgency to refurbish our headquarters and we agreed that the new project would mirror our identity. I already knew the work of Studio Wok and I loved their rational and pragmatic approach to architecture. I really think that our generation is more and more integrating a sustainable attitude in everything it does. So it was quite an instinctive choice to ask Studio Wok to redesign the interiors of our premises.
But it is a work in progress: the offices are finished, like the showroom. But we are still working on the external parts and trying to figure out how we can transform the old spaces built in the Seventies into a contemporary and functional integration of the main buildings”.
Using old spaces to change the way we live industry and work
QuadroDesign is based on what once was a very well-known Italian brand in the water fitting trade sector. When Enrico’s father bought the buildings, he didn’t think about making them better: they were functional enough and the non-necessary parts were simply ignored, as long as the facades and the park around the factory.
“There is still a very beautiful and fascinating electric tower in the garden. Nobody ever thought about using it. I would like very much to use the building as a guest house for artists and designers in residence. Meanwhile, we planted a new vegetable garden to have good food to share with the people who work with me. During the summer the park becomes the ideal place for barbecue and for collective lunches and dinners.”. Every piece of the family tale is getting back in the right place.
“Sometimes I think we need to repair the way we acted during the Eighties when the economy distracted everybody from the real things. Everything seemed beautiful and nice, but people weren’t aware of the upcoming climate crisis. And I think they weren’t even aware of how much beauty and respect comforts human beings much more than anything”.