This time, we brought architect Paola Navone’s life and work into focus. Navone was born in Turin and is a Milan-based architect who has been thriving in the field for as far as we can remember.

She has been leading from the front with her prolific and eye-catching designs. The unique, refreshing and magnificent pieces that she has created speak for themselves and her genius. Navone is not just an architect, she’s a full package when it comes to this field. She’s a brilliant product designer, an interior decorator par excellence, and an unmatched art director.

Born in 1950, Paola studied architecture at the engineering university in her hometown, the Polytechnic University of Turin. She travelled to Africa before linking up with Italian designer and architect Alessandro Mendini, back home.

She received the prestigious Osaka International Design Award for Abet Laminati in 1983. She was only supposed to submit one design, but she ended up submitting 50 because she couldn’t choose just one. This exemplifies her professional ethic and dedication to her career. She has worked with Crate & Barrel and Anthropologie later in her career.

She went on to work as a consultant in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, on the behalf of UNEDA, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the World Bank. Her current work includes designs for heavyweights such as Dryade, Casa Milano, Polyform, Rokeboboa Iglesia, Baxter, Habitat, Natuzzi, Creighton Barrell. And these are just few of the names she is associated with.

Since 1988, she has majorly handled art direction and been a creator of exhibitions all around the world. Apart from the prestigious Osaka International Design award in 1983, she was also named the Designer of the year in the year 2000 by the magazine Architecture and Wonen. She won the El Decor International Design awards in 2011 and 2018. In 2014, she got inducted into the Interior Design Magazine’s prestigious Hall Of Fame.

In this conversation with Orientbell, Paola shares her story of her nature as a rebel, her determination, and her experiences in architecture. Here is a sneak peek into the conversation:


So, Paola, tell us about your childhood. Was this dream of becoming an architect always there or the nature of a rebel that you possess brought you where you are today?

Nothing was planned. When I was a child, like every other kid in the world I had no idea what I was gonna do in my life or what my end goal was. But one thing that always motivated and fascinated me was motor bikes. I was really attracted to them. My first love or I should say, where it all began was a Harley Davidson that was there at my grandmother’s. I don’t know who was its owner, but that was where my fascination for bikes started. I never did what I was told to do. All my journey has been me doing just the opposite of what I was told to do. In my mind, I’m a fish. So whenever someone used to ask me to do a certain thing, I used to feel the urge of swimming and escaping that situation. So my swimming away from such situations has brought me here where I’m designing, doing architecture, and presenting my work.


Paola, in all your designs, your visiting cards, we see a fish. What does it symbolize? Is it that fish that you always were, in your mind?

Yes, majorly, but then it depicts a lot of other things too. It’s been really long since I’ve been living in Asia and here, I’ve come to understand a lot about fish. Koi fish, black fish, they all are so good. They inspire me a lot. As you know that I believe that I am a fish, so I surround myself with other fish too and I believe that brings good luck to people and our projects. That is why you can see a lot of fish in my designs. Basically, we are a community of fishes.


So, Paola, how does it feel to work with such a young and dynamic team? Do they learn from you or you learn from them?

I don’t know if they learn or not, but I sure do. I am very bad at teaching, so I’m never teaching but if they’re able to grasp, if they’re able to learn, it is because they are very smart. They tell me that sometimes I go overboard with this fish-type thinking of mine and try to swim away but they stop me from doing so. They keep watching me, they keep a check, so that I don’t get to do a lot of swimming around.


For the full interview, head to the link down below…