Here we sit down with the man behind our newest brand, Michael Chazan of Moda Piera, in his beautifully curated Melbourne home. Michael is responsible for the beautiful Arancini table and floor lamp which is now available at Fanuli. Read on as we talk to him about the path that led him to design, his inspiration, and what the future holds.

 

1/ Tell us a little about yourself and Moda Piera?

 

From the age of four, all I wanted was to be an architect. However, at age 17 – during a moment of constitutional weakness – I decided to study Economics and Art History and became a banker instead. As such, my path to design was a bit more convoluted than it could have been. 

 

When I finally realised that doing something you love is more rewarding than most any other career motivation, I went to go back to school and studied design. 

 

Not long after that, in 2016, Moda Piera was conceived as a vehicle to hone my craft and experiment with ideas in design that would have otherwise lived in my library of notebooks as anonymous doodles.

 

Thankfully in the early days I managed to convince a few people to buy some of my work, and a couple of years down the track Moda Piera continues to be a rewarding creative outlet…. and a way to justifiably turn my doodles in to beautiful real-life objects.

 

2/ How would you describe your process of designing and then making?

 

My designs tend to start their life as a collection of disparate references – a shape, a colour, or a particular material. After letting these individual references ruminate for a while, I try to bring the disparate parts together in to a complimentary form. Several iterations later – or perhaps, many many iterations later – I land on something that works and then start nutting out the details, thus allowing the form to step off the page and in to the real world.

 

3/ Where did you grow up and what path led you to design?

 

I grew up in various parts of Melbourne and had a pretty eclectic childhood – surrounded by musicians, intellectuals and a variety of individuals who engaged in conversations about politics, music and visual arts in the same breath. Thinking about all of these things at the same time became par for the course, and as a result I came to love the idea of approaching design simultaneously as a pseudo-philosophical problem-solving exercise, as well as an aesthetic pursuit.  So despite my early professional detour, I think I was always bound to return to some sort of “creative” career.

4/ A typical day at work at Moda Piera involves..

 

Drinking coffee, doodling, looking at pretty pictures, reading, pretending to read while I look at pretty pictures, emailing, sawing stuff, sanding stuff, stepping back to look at stuff I’ve just sanded… then sanding it a bit more.

 

5/ What has been one of your favourite recipes you have created?

 

Every time I cook I create something new. Not by design, but because I rarely write down recipes and always forget how I did it last time. This practice sees tears and triumph in equal measure… but the process of experimentation is always fun, if punctuated by bouts of self chastisement.

 

With that said, one of my favourite “creations” is a version of a dish my father makes. Essentially it’s a slab of marinated eye fillet, sealed in the pan, cooked rare in the oven and then rolled in fresh parsley and finely sliced raw garlic. Delicious and always a crowed pleaser!

 

6/ Who are your design heroes?

 

Most of my design heroes are pretty boring in their predictability… Louis Kahn, Le Corbusier, Constantin Brancusi, Charlotte Perriand, Carlo Scarpa, Louis Barragán, Philip Johnson, Alexander Calder etc. etc. Fortunately for me, the reason they are so predictable is simply because they are so good. 

 

  1. In more contemporary circles, I really love the work of people like Dimore Studio, Vincenzo de Cotis, Christophe Côme, Faye Toogood… Generally speaking anyone who has a sculptural sensibility and takes materiality to the next level is pretty high on my list of heroes.

 

7/ what do you love most about your job…

 

The ability to turn something in my imagination into something tangible. Be that via my own hands or via someone else’s.

7/ what do you love most about your job…

 

The ability to turn something in my imagination into something tangible. Be that via my own hands or via someone else’s.

 

 

8/ Favourite Melbourne suburb? Brunch destination? Drink?

 

Collingwood – It was my stomping ground for many good years and it’s also the home of my new studio space.

  1. Lee Bakery – I’ve been going there for 15 years, and I still crave it on a daily basis. 

Negroni – I have never tasted a good one that tasted bad.

 

 

9/ Place where you are most Inspired

 

Either places where there is an abundance of good art and architecture (e.g. Milan, New York) or places where there is an abundance of “nothing” (e.g a secluded beach somewhere.)

 

10/ What is a lesson you have learned in the industry that you can pass on?

 

Try not to be an island forever. Working in isolation can be great for many things, including escaping the “trend-trap”, but eventually you need to greet the world. (Note. This advice can also work in reverse if you’re one of those people more inclined to greeting the world too much.)

 

11/ What are you working on next?

 

I have a number of great new lighting products in the works, but the project I’m most excited about right now is the new studio space and gallery I’m working on with my wife (photographer Ying Ang). I’m really looking forward to creating a space where work, family and friends can coexist on a daily basis!