Conservatorium Hotel photo by Amit Geron
Conservatorium Hotel photo by Amit Geron.

How to Spot Authentic Design? Stefano Giussani Has One Answer

As CEO of Lissoni U.S., Stefano Giussani has a thing or two to say about the importance of authentic design, his love of which kick-started his career. Long before leading Lissoni U.S., Giussani carefully saved enough money as an architecture student in Milan to buy his first design treasure—the Egg Chair by Friz Hansen. “Many people try to copy the Egg Chair, but it’s mute. My chair, it sings!” he shares. Therein lies his poetic take on the difference between authentic design and the rest.

Of course, Giussani stresses that the importance of authenticity extends beyond aesthetics. He and his team forgo hunting for lookalikes and instead create their own original designs if budget constraints make it impossible to source certain pieces. Often, if a client is drawn to a specific item, the vision of that piece in a given space tends to win them over, he adds.

As an advocate for Be Original Americas, a nonprofit celebrating its 10th anniversary that spotlights the value of original craftsmanship with the help of committed partners, Giussani continues to champion authenticity, hoping to reach as many people as possible. The group, cofounded by Beth Dickstein of BDE along with David Rosenkvist, chief commercial and creative officer at Louis Poulsen, works to protect authentic designs and actively stop the spread of knockoffs while enabling members, from designers and architects to newly established makers, to connect. “We have a natural connection with what we do,” Giussani says of Dickstein. “I really like that the group is informing people about what is behind the shape that you see—people don’t always know. The more they understand, the more they recognize that added value.”

Grand Park Hotel Rovinj. Photography by Tommaso Sartori.
Grand Park Hotel Rovinj by Lissoni U.S.. Photography by Tommaso Sartori.

Be Original Americas members, including Carl Hansen & Søn, Flos, and Nanimarquina, to name a few, regularly appear in Giussani’s projects. “It’s so normal for us to play with them; it’s part of our design alphabet,” he shares.

For the group’s anniversary, Be Original Americas will collaborate with Ace Hotel in four cities on a series of exhibitions, talks, and events beginning with a celebration in July—and that’s just the beginning. The group also has a packed schedule of events and educational opportunities planned, including the return of the student fellowship program. “The fellowship for young designers is a great opportunity for them to get day-to-day experience in the field while experts share their secrets and help them understand what to look for in terms of authentic design,” Giussani says. Sign us up!

Conservatorium Hotel photo by Amit Geron
Conservatorium Hotel by Lissoni U.S.. Photography by Amit Geron.

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