Articolo is an Australian lighting design studio that celebrates the art of light through a commitment to artisanal craft and quality workmanship. With showrooms in Melbourne and New York City, the studio reflects founder and creative director Nicci Green’s passion for the textural spirit of light, producing works that are internationally regarded for a contemporary yet enduring aesthetic.
Nicci Green joined Daily Architecture News for an inspiring and refreshing conversation, where she talks about the lightbulb moment that motivated her to found Articolo, her surprising former life as a chef and food stylist, and how having little knowledge of lighting design was exactly what gave her the freedom – and the drive – she needed to pursue an illuminating career.
What led you into lighting design?
Nicci Green: At the time of starting Articolo, designing and manufacturing lighting in Australia was quite uncommon. Most of the high-end decorative lighting was coming out of Europe and the United States. I didn’t know anything about lighting, which in hindsight is perhaps a blessing as I may never have embarked on this journey had I been aware of the challenges.
I’ve never been formerly trained in design. And as I don’t come from a lighting background, I’m not restricted by a traditional approach. For me, lighting is an innate process informed by the way I see the world and my vast life experiences.
Was there a lightbulb moment that motivated you to start Articolo?
NG: When Articolo was established, I felt there was a gap in the market for superbly designed artisanal lighting that was unique, sculptural, detailed yet timeless. My passion for and experience in design – initially in food styling and later interior design and product design – informed the direction of Articolo, where my love for design that is both contemporary and timeless has been realised through form. I sought to create lighting that was easy to live with: both decorative and functional.
What is a source of creative inspiration for you?
NG: At times of travel and exploration, my mind goes into a conceptual overdrive and, invariably, I don’t get any sleep as ideas and thoughts ruminate in my mind. I feel my most creative when exploring other cultures. I’m really looking forward to when we can travel internationally again. In the meantime, Australia has so much to offer.
Career highlight so far?
NG: A highlight has been the success of our New York showroom and our launch into the US market which continues to go from strength to strength. Another was our debut at Salone Del Mobile [in Milan] in 2019 – our official launch in Europe. Each of these ‘leaps’ are no mean feat for a small but growing business.
Has Covid-19 impacted the way you do business or approach design?
NG: We have been fortunate to work to the same methodology during Covid with our studio remaining relatively open through lockdown whilst undertaking all necessary precautions.
As a leader, being flexible and nimble is important and so is being positive. We have made changes to other aspects of our business, such as a by-appointment approach to our showrooms in Melbourne and New York, however this period won’t last forever. We will be here on the other side with many exciting plans in the works. For now, we have to ride it out together.
I feel my most creative when exploring other cultures. I’m really looking forward to when we can travel internationally again.
What project are you most looking forward to in the future?
NG: We have been working on a number of exciting large-scale custom pieces from cities across the world: Sydney, Aspen and Manhattan to name a few.
The complexity of engineering each piece and the intricacy of the blown-glass shades is challenging yet exceptionally exciting. I am really proud of what we have designed together and can’t wait to see them suspended in the space.
Sky’s the limit: what’s the dream project for you?
I love embracing new challenges, so a long-term goal is to collaborate with an architect on a hotel or resort imbued with the Articolo aesthetic and sensibility. It will be an entirely sensory experience where guests are cocooned from the rest of the world. A dream I’d love to see come true, one day.
What are your top tips for lighting design success?
- First and foremost, you must love what you do and feel passionate about it. Having this total commitment to your craft, coupled with tenacity, multi-tasking skills and creativity, is what will make you a success.
- Start with a clear destination in mind.
- There are no short cuts.
With this in mind, these [final two tips] are gentle reminders of the importance of knowing where we are going and how we’ll get to our end destination. I use them as a road map.
What are your most covetable objects, pieces or artworks?
I am surrounded by talented and creative friends – I love supporting them and treasuring their works. I love being surrounded by objects that have meaning and are from people I know and love.
I have a number of works filtered throughout my home by Melbourne artist and friend, David O’Brien. I also have a collection of beautiful hand-crafted ceramics by my cousin Liesl Rockchild who is a talented local artist, ceramicist and curator.
Finally, I truly treasure a brooch my mother-in-law had made from a Latvian coin. She is Latvian and so there is a beautiful history, romance and deep heart embedded in this beautiful gift.
Finally, what’s something we probably don’t know about Nicci Green?
I started my career as a chef then food stylist in Paris with Votre Beaute [magazine]. The training through these two career journeys taught me to pair back and simplify: less is more. What remains on the plate, or in the photograph, needs to have a reason, a relevance and add something special – even if it’s hard to put a finger on.
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For me, lighting is an innate process informed by the way I see the world and my vast life experiences.