Matteo Ferrari and Andrea Caruso from Ciszak Dalmas Ferrari Studio share some of the milestones that have outlined their careers
Ciszak Dalmas Ferrari (@ciszak_dalmas_ferrari) is an architecture and design studio founded in Madrid by Alberto Gobbino Ciszak, Andrea Caruso Dalmas, and Matteo Ferrari. The studio works across a range of disciplines including architecture, interior, product design, and art direction. Recent clients have included Bosa, Bitossi, Camper, Loewe, Max&Co., and Zara. The studio also founded contemporary furniture and interior design brand, La Clinica Design.
Their work has been presented at the Biennale di Architettura in Venice, Salone del Mobile in Milan, Experimenta Design in Lisbon, and Design Ambassador in Hong Kong. Matteo and Andrea studied architecture and industrial design, respectively, in Italy. In Spain, they started running their studio with another designer (Alberto) and succeeded despite starting with few clients and resources during the economic crisis.
‘It wasn’t easy, but we worked very hard and… experimented every day.’
Let’s have a look at how they did it.
Andrea studied product design in Turin, Italy, and ended up in Madrid a few years later. He’d always been interested in design and creativity. ‘I remember spending most of my afternoons at home when I was a kid drawing, sketching, playing with Lego, and trying to build things. I wanted to study aerospace engineering. Alberto, who then became my business partner, suggested I study product design with him.’
Matteo says: ‘My dream was to be a fisherman and live in nature, but I was also interested in shapes and volume. When I found out about architecture, I decided to apply to university. I found a fantastic world of creativity that offered a different way of understanding and connecting with the environment.'
When they arrived in Madrid, they didn’t have any clients, and starting a design practice was ‘kind of crazy because actually, we didn’t know who to work for.’ They started collecting rejected items from the street. ‘We started combining all these elements, trying to make furniture and what we called ‘Frankenstein’ pieces. Our first project was ‘The Clinica Design’: we recovered and gave new life to what people didn’t want.
During one of those nights, they wandered around the city trying to collect stuff and hooked up with Alberto in a bar. ‘I was a director of an architecture studio, and one day Andrea and Alberto asked me for help. They had a new interior design project, which is how we started to collaborate,’ Matteo explains.
‘The excellent relationship between architecture and product design is kind of a win-win strategy when you do a space because we think of the big vision from one side and then take care of the smaller details from the other.'
Mentioning Italian architect Ernesto Rogers and his slogan, ‘From the spoon to the town,’ they like to focus on the small detail and the big picture. They don't want to categorize or put any labels on their disciplines; they just call it design.
‘I always laugh about the fact that as designers or architects, we are like superheroes because we can plan and design something that will happen in the future. Ultimately we believe in design and architecture as disciplines to make people's lives more comfortable, happier, or nicer, apart from making aesthetically appealing things,’ Andrea says.
As a very small boutique studio, they follow all the design phases from A to Z and fully control the overall result, designing many different things from products like furniture, shoes, perfume, and spaces like shops and private houses. ‘Failure and success are part of the design process. We like to experiment every day with shapes, volumes, and, of course, with materials,’ Matteo says.
‘Our clients are also very diverse. On the one hand, we can work with small companies, start-ups, or boutiques that might want us to design something very specific. These projects are very experimental and give you the freedom to make something that might not be possible with a big-scale project.
We also collaborate with more prominent brands designing projects on a broader scale and study solutions that apply to many different countries. These require you to be flexible, but seeing your designs on such a wide scale is very rewarding’.
'When we designed a unit for the Clinica collection that looks like a cart with a bicycle wheel, it attracted fashion brand Max and Co. They wanted to renovate all their stores worldwide, and they found us on the internet: we started to collaborate with the brand and ended up designing stores within a team. The design process can be pretty similar whether you do a small piece or a bigger one, and it’s great to realize there are no limits to this profession.'
They believe that the most critical skill to be a designer is to be very open and curious and always learn from all the people you collaborate with.
Nowadays, they are working on different projects and countries. They’ve recently opened two new stores in Spain and are working on an office in London and designing a new building for an NGO in Manila.
‘Interestingly, every time they call us, it’s for a different kind of project.’
If you want to learn more about Matteo and Andrea’s work, sign up for their course ‘Designing Unique Luxury Spaces’, in which you’ll learn to create the interior design for a fashion brand's flagship store.