Stefano Santilli is a furniture designer and maker and lectures in design at the university.
As a maker, Stefano has produced furniture objects for private commission or sale, His practice has evolved within an educational context to focus towards a conceptually-based enquiry through making that interrogates the values determining relationships between objects and users.
Stefano Santilli lectures in design and craft. His work at the university runs alongside his practice as a designer maker, working in wood, metals and plastics. Furniture continues to be a pervasive theme in Stefano’s work, highlighted by theoretical projects that explore the seat as a device for framing space and for creating the possibility of contemplation.
Stefano Santilli’s MA thesis interrogated the notion of ‘good value’ in design and resulted in a collection of furniture objects that propose diverse readings and implying strategies for sustained relationship with products. Central to this is an interest in materiality and physical relationships with things, since expanded into a research project entitled ‘Hands On’ that has been funded by the university's Centre for Excellence in Teaching & Learning Creativity. The project seeks to understand the potency of manual skills and the problematics of transferring this kind of knowledge, particularly in educational settings that are caught between escalating costs of material based workshop provision and the seductive advantages of hands off CADCAM.
Graduating from art school with a portfolio of wooden machines that anachronistically explored the wilful consumption of broadcast media, Stefano initially found employment in the restoration and exhibition design departments of the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. Lacking sufficient orders to expand a business in creating kinetic shop signs, he joined a workshop of furniture makers and started to design and manufacture one-off pieces. A fascination with serial production techniques, led Stefano to develop a range of tables that were sold through London retailers Purves & Purves, Furniture Union, Ruth Aram Shop and Heals. Joining the British European Design Group enabled the work to reach markets in the USA and for the Pendio table to be manufactured by Nordwind in Germany.
For many years Stefano pursued a career in the designing and production of furniture objects for private commission or for sale through London showrooms or to fit out interior retail spaces. As the opportunities for working in education increased, Stefano’s output has shifted away from commercial activity and towards a predominantly conceptually based enquiry through making that interrogates the values determining relationships between objects and users.
On another scale, Stefano Santilli has also worked extensively on spatial design projects for independent shops and bars, as well as on public commissions with landscape architects.
Invitations to guest lecture at design schools in the UK, Italy and Sweden have fed a profound interest in multi-disciplinary collaborative practice and resulted in projects exhibited in Milan and Bremen. At the University of Brighton Stefano co-curated ‘Insane about the Membrane’, a show in the art school gallery that explored interpretations of ‘skin’ by practitioners in arts and architecture. Currently a lecturer on 3D Design/Materials Practice and visiting lecturer on MDes Textiles and MA Interior Design at the University of Brighton; guest lecturer on Industrial Design at LTH University of Lund, Sweden and Product Design at INDACO Politecnico di Milano, Italy, Santilli initiated a major collaborative project between the design schools of Brighton, Lund and Milano that was showcased during the Salone del Mobile 2006.
Santilli, Stefano (2013) The Bodging Project [Artefact]
Santilli, Stefano (2011) Abundance [Artefact]
Santilli, Stefano (2010) Hands On Stefano Santilli (online), Brighton, UK. (Unpublished)
Santilli, Stefano (2010) Lightmetre [Artefact]