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Umberto Mantineo

  • Designer
  • Ambassador for Rome, Italy
Umberto Mantineo Ambassador for Rome, Italy
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Modernity meets Italian vintage

Umberto Mantineo is a Roman architect who opened his eponymous studio in the heart of old Rome in 2016. A vast vitrine facing onto the street that showcases his curated design collections, it is from within these old walls that Umberto designs his eclectic furniture and decorative objects, which are created in collaboration with talented Italian artisans. From ceramics to lamps, and chairs, each piece has its own unique character, some exude a vintage aesthetic, others a more contemporary and minimalistic style. Umberto also has an astute eye for collecting vintage Italian design pieces. His home city provides him with endless inspiration, with its stunning architecture within which everyday life plays out, in contact with history, its materials and its resident artisans.

What does craftsmanship signify for you?

I spend hours watching how an object is born from nothing. I’ve always been fascinated by the gestures, timing, reflections, solutions, wisdom and recklessness of those who work. A good artisan solves, he is not afraid of making mistakes because he always has a solution. I learned more from artisans than from books.

How does it feature in your work and life?

When I design something, my thoughts immediately go to those who will create it, I am always present during the realization phase and it is not strange that at some point I interrupt a process leaving behind an imperceptible imperfection that for me represents the signature of the person who makes it. As in life, I love the little flaws that characterize a person.

Do you work with craftspeople and how?

In the studio, I draw the designs with obsessive precision, but then with the maker I explain myself more with words and gestures, I am always interested in an alternative technical solution, whether it works or not, everything can be constructive for a future project. There must be empathy between those who have the idea and those who realize it.

How would you define excellence?

Excellence is a person who loves their job and has spontaneity too. Excellence in my field is achieved through an understanding between designer and craftsman, when one fully understands each other's work and contributes without wanting to override. For me, excellence results when this balance is found.

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