Paola Marella: the interview


Hello to all my #designaddicted family! :)

Today I want to tell you about my meeting with a prominent person of the world of design and Italian TV:

Paola Marella!


If you live in Belpaese you’ll already know about her, but if you are from abroad, you must know that Paola Marella is a well-known face of the small Italian screen (first on Real Time and now on Sky), with her broadcasts dedicated to quality interior design.


From her shows, we can see a woman with a sparkling and unique personality, but as we know, it is hard to tell from the TV because it is always changing. The people from TV become part of our daily life, but then we never know how much of everything we see is true or studied… right? At least this is the feeling I often have.


For Paola Marella, having met her myself, I can tell you that she really is as she appears: dynamic, direct, solar, elegant, and she has been brought up with design and architecture!


For me, I have seen the world after her, she has always been an example to follow, a master of professionalism and style. A woman who has been able to combine perfectly her private life with great professional success.


We met at the Arman Cafè in Milan, a location that we later found to be one of our absolute favorites.


She was punctual, dressed casual but elegant: white jacket, jeans and heels. Smiling and as impeccable as ever. I was thrilled for this meeting, she made me feel comfortable and we started the interview, which was actually a nice talk, between jokes, opinions and laughter.



Here is what we talked about:

Then Paola, to begin, tell us: in your life, what led you to design? Is there a precise point where you chose this path for yourself?


PM: I came to this matter by accident because I originally wanted to study medicine (laughter). Then strongly disapproved of by my father, who considered a 11 year long faculty too demanding for a woman, and also complicated by the insistence of a dear friend, in 1982 I enrolled in architecture, and there I started my path. A little by accident, as you can see, following my natural flow of growth.


A path that turned out to be full of satisfaction I imagine …


PM: Yes, but you need to know that halfway through college, a rector of the faculty told me I had chosen the wrong subject… another professor however, Professor Dell’Acqua, supported me a lot. And, funny, when my book came out a while ago, he told me that maybe it was time to send it to him… pointing out how perhaps, at times, he had made incorrect evaluations…


Sweet revenge! I also have a couple of ideas that sooner or later I know will take it off. But back to the design: what do you think of Made in Italy? Past, present and future.


PM: I believe that Made in Italy is our greatest strength. We Italians are fortunate to be people of great talent, since the beginning. We are known in the world for our creativity, our taste, our genius. We are very strong! What unfortunately penalizes us, in addition to the crisis we are experiencing, is the great tax burden that our country faces. It’s an absolute handicap. Made in Italy, in essence, it is to be cared for and protected, especially from the state, because there is still much creativity on the part of the Italians, they want to do, fight and move on. But I have to say that I’m noticing great people, always on the subject of creativity, coming from abroad.


Can you give us some examples that stand out to you the most?


PM: Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is the Big Studio in London, one of the biggest studios in the world. I was completely fascinated by it: they make really amazing projects! They are designing the World Trade Center 2 for example. Then, how can I not mention Tom Dixon who I also personally knew. He has the great strength to be a great entrepreneur as well as a great designer. His lights are an absolute masterpiece!


So Tom Dixon is one of Paola Marella’s favorites?


PM: His lights are amazing, but there are many others I like. Patricia Urquiola for example, has recently released, in collaboration with Federico Pepe “Misscredenza” which is a product that I consider a true work of art. And then… Dimore Studio, that as far as I’m concerned, is able to put together the maximum of the existing design of our day.


And in all of the beauty of design products that surround us, do you have your own product icon? My point is, of course, the Arco Lamp. I fell in love as soon as I saw it!


PM: Arco Lamp is absolutely a must! And I discovered just last year that it did not win the Compasso d’Oro (Golden Compass)! Anyway, besides that, I have to say that I have a lot of design icons: Le Corbusier’s chaise longue, Gio Ponti’s Light Chair, the Toio lamp by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni. There are many of them, and then I have to say that light design has a particular charm.


Do you have this passion too? I find that in general it has a more emotional appeal than other product designs. So let’s talk about drawing the light…


PM: Definitely, I agree with you!

I believe that Made in Italy is our greatest strength. We Italians are fortunate to be a people of great creations, since the beginning. We are known in the world for our creativity, our taste, our genius. We are very strong! What unfortunately penalizes us, in addition to the crisis we are experiencing, is the great tax burden that our country faces

Paola, let’s talk about a topic that I think may be interesting for women who read my blog: how do you combine private and working life? What advice can you give us? How can we balance working ambition and a happy family?


PM: I try to cut out spaces… during the weekend, because during the week, I admit it is very difficult. On Saturdays and Sundays I like to travel, with my son, who now lives in Barcelona. We arrange to meet each time in a different city of Europe. With my husband we allow these little things, because we both love traveling a lot. I suggest making choices. There are moments of life in which you have to give priority to priorities, and other moments of life in which you have to give way to other priorities. For example, when my son was little, I was lucky because I had people that helped me, but then my free time was dedicated to him. Now in leisure time I may go to the gym, get a massage, and so on. The important thing for me is to always maintain balance in all things.


Thank you, I really consider it a very important and positive suggestion for all of us. And what do you want for the future? Is there anything in particular?


PM: Traveling, Traveling, Traveling!  For me, a  journey is something that can really get a lot out of. I recently returned to Paris and it’s gorgeous: art and architecture are all around you.


What thrills you about art?


PM: I love contemporary art, though I’m not very good at understanding it, but I have a fantastic husband who comes to my rescue.


Is he a passionate too?


PM: His father was one of the greatest art collectors in the 70s and 80s. He had a gallery, so he grew up breathing art, since he was little. When I go to a museum with him, he explains and tells me everything in the smallest details. It is very engaging and stimulating!


Real luck indeed! Other than modern art, who do you love the most in art?


PM: I really appreciate Basquiat, Warhol, Haring, Boetti. Lucio Fontana has created magnificent works, not just “il Taglio” (cutting)” but also “il Concetto Spaziale” (space concept). When I see a work of art I get emotional… I do not understand completely, but I’m inspired. I think everything we see and that we have around can inspire us.


I have to say that I can’t think of anything. You know, even when I have experienced moments of difficulty, I've always tried to find a starting point for a way out it

Returning to you and thinking about the past, do you have any regret, something you would have done differently?


PM: I have to say that I can’t think of anything. You know, even when I have experienced difficult times, I’ve always tried to find a starting point for a way out it. I firmly believe there is always a way out. My TV experience also started at a time when I was having a little bit of a crisis, so you see… I was told to do something and would start right away.  This probably is my limit.


In what sense?


PM: In the sense that I should learn to say “no” more. I’m working on it… (laughs)


I understand so well! Paola, it was really a pleasure to talk with you, which I would like to conclude with a question. Perhaps you have already been asked this by many others, but what does this particular hairstyle do for you?


PM: (laughs) You’re right, it’s a question so many people have asked! The story, however, is this: in 1999 I lost my dad and I was having a hard time. I became completely white in two months. Then my trusty hairdresser Adalberto di Coppola proposed this very special and original hairstyle: in my opinion he would have done a lot more and but he softened the features … and so this became my look I still adore! And now my hairdresser never forgets to tell me “how good he was” (laughs)

Paola Marella, my art director Giulia Grilli and me

After the interview, we took a few photos and said our goodbyes. Personally, I feel enriched. Also, the fact that my work brought me to meet a person I admire, I am filled with satisfaction 🙂


And what do you think of Paola Marella? Did you know about her before? Did you expect her to be just as she appears in the video? Would you have asked other questions? Were there any tips or  suggestions you found handy for yourself, your work, or your personal life?



©photo: CBteam


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Are you a design enthusiast or do you work in the design business?

Subscribe to my newsletter