DforDesign interviews COKI.

Inside Isola Goes Digital, Silvia Ceria, Founder of DforDesign, interviews designer Coki Barbieri, Founder of COKI. studio, on sustainability, the process behind the creation of her own projects, the selection of materials as well as the life cycle of the products.


(Isola Design District)

THE HOST DforDesign is a studio + blog created by Designer and Blogger Silvia Ceria and focused on Biophilic Design, wellbeing-centered interiors that take inspiration from nature, and Sustainable Design, products & materials that are mindful of the environment and support the development of a circular economy.


COKI. studio point of view




Let's start with a little introduction about you as a designer.

How did you choose to make sustainability an important part of your work?

Of course, sustainability is an important part of my work! From the beginning I decided to work with natural and safe materials, as a architectural and product designer, so COKI studio is just that we can call Green Oriented.
Sustainability for me has something in common with the word respect, means respect for all living beings.
I can say that I was born and raised in the middle of the nature and this kind of life influenced me so much.
I think the most important thing I learned was really this approach of respect, so I decided to bring this way of life into my work, giving to the word respect this acception of sustanability.

What does the word sustainability mean to you?

As I said for me sustainability has something in common with the word respect and so with a kind way of living.

Everytime we design something: a new object, a new house, a new service, we have to make some changes to what already exists. Sustainability and be sustainable in general, for me, is to make sure that these changes do not bring with them
long term negative effects, or that these effects are not too many and devastating.

 The materials you use are all natural and they look very simple and straightforward.

But I bet there's a lot of work & research behind. Where do you find inspiration for the materials you use?

This is a wonderful question! I can say that since I started this job, I have set myself three rules in the choice of materials:
- natural or recyclable;

- Italian origin;

- combined without the use of glue (or with mineral and vegetal glues).

So, my second rule can answer your question, because I always find inspiration by travelling around my country, Italy, and discovering materials, often in the middle of nature, in their wild state. For example, travertine, visiting Marmore Waterfall, or calcarenite, visiting Matera.

Your products are also made for disassembly - meaning they use no glues and are easy to take apart.

Which are some of the techniques to make it possible?
Well, really there are no techniques, or rather: a technique is to prototype a lot: creating an object in which the connections do not have glue or weldings takes much more time than if you could join all the elements together by using glue or weldings.
I always work combining several materials together so, the difficulty is in the connection area.

It's all in the skills of the artisan and this is the reason I always choose the best artisans in Italy.

Would you say it is more difficult to design keeping disassembly in mind?
The first few times, yes, it was. But now this has become my way of designing. I always keep in mind that the new object must be able to be disassembled in its original components, so if it breaks, you can divide it and throw away its parts separately, then recycle them.
I've found an interesting thought about sustainability on your website
- "nothing is less sustainable than something that remains unused".
How do you go about designing objects that will not remain unused?
I think that the secret is to design for feelings. Emotional part of design, for me, has nothing to do with the art field, but it is a part of the functionality of the object. And when I design, I always mind that one of the main functions of my objects is to last. If an object can gives you emotions, can keep you company, I’m sure that you will not throw it away, rather you will deliver it to your sons and in this way you also give to the object its second or third opportunity to live and be useful.
The world we live in has urgent need of sustainable development in all fields;
in your opinion, what could speed up the change in the design field?
I think that what can speed up this process is to reflect.
So, doing some reflections about the beginning of the design process: which materials we use, how can we combine them together, how can we recycle them? Are they recyclable?
But, first of all, we have to consider the product design as a serious thing, because product design is all over, so it can change everything around us, also the way we live. So, as all serious things, the product design needs some rules, that the designer and the design company must follow. The time has come to stop having so many choices, so many possibilities. We need rules to follow, as a designer and as a consumer.

Do you think that these rules must come from the outside, or that it should be the designer himself who imposes them?I think both, but in this particular historical moment, I think there is need of someone who, from outside, imposes these rules.

What are your next projects?
So, I want to answer you with a little surprise. I promised to Coki followers that very soon I would present the new project,
then this time is now! I have my new project COCHLEAE here, nearby me, so I show you it, for the first time, only saying that this is a vases collection, formed by two different Italian materials, inspired by snails, by their strong but fragile shells and their soft body. The shell is calcarenite, the historical rock of Matera, and the body is glass.

From now all of you can find this project on COKI social, Instagram and Facebook as coki.studio and on the COKI page on Isola goes digital. And that’s all! I want to thank you again and thanks to Isola for this opportunity to tell you something about me!

an interview by Silvia Ceria, DforDesign

Hey! Find out more about: