Outdoor Space Designer

World renowned Landscape designer, Derek Castiglioni combines an all-italian background in construction and a know-how of the ‘green’ with a culture and awareness of digital media through which he conveys his work. Its hanging gardens and installations for the great names of international luxury reproduce exotic atmospheres and suggestions with a postcard effect of the early 1900s.

1 – Where did you study?

I studied architecture in Milan and I had an experience in Australia in the field of urban planning. I started working in the family business, which deals with construction and nursery: in particular in the development of green roofs and roof gardens. Mandelli was the first Italian company to create hanging gardens, from which we also developed the part of the nursery. In the beginning I felt lost, I did not see this design of green spaces as a real architecture. I looked for an approach, a cut, an idea to get closer to the world of green, developing the design part and linking myself to design studies and fashion brands. Today I design green spaces starting from scratch, creating all that is the world of the “outside” as if it were an interior, choosing details, materials and essences.

2 – How did your project start? Do you have a particular creative process?

I always start with architecture and design. If I see, for example, a courtyard I imagine how it could have been at another historical moment. I get influenced by the suggestions that the place gives me and I imagine special situations that could have happened in that space. For each project I start from historical research which, however, I reinterpret in my own way.

3 – Are there any architects or designers who inspire you?

I look at the designs of Mathieu Matégot until the most contemporary India Mahdavi.

4 – And any places?

Los Angeles and its 50s architecture inspires me, but also the Vienna of the 1930s. I love the romantic and melancholic spirit of the gardens, for example the colonial Indian gardens revised with homegrown essences. Mine is a fantastic garden, in which I combine tropical plants with native plants with an exotic jungle effect. It is interesting to see how plants react, their incredible ability to adapt: they are born in one place and must remain in that place for a lifetime, so they have an incredible ability to adapt. They are special beings you can interact with and experiment with.

5 – Is there a turning point in your career?

When I started making set-ups with important architectural firms: this allowed me to understand that my work could be closely related to the world of design and architectural design.

6 – How would you define your work?

There is no definition in Italian, I would not call it either ‘landscape architect’ or ‘architect’. ‘Landscape Designer’ is perhaps the most correct expression.

7 – Who are your clients?

Many private clients: companies especially in the fashion sector such as Stella Mc Cartney, Boglioli, Alexander McQueen and many foreign showrooms for which I have created installations. I work a lot in the United Arab Emirates, especially in Doha, Qatar, with private clients for residential gardens and homes; while working well in the United States for furniture design. Foreign customers always give me more space and freedom of expression.

8 – How was the furniture project born?

It was an idea that I had in mind for a long time, because I couldn’t find outdoor furniture as I wanted. This is how my furniture brand was born, to offer special and unique items on the market. They are high-end furniture, which bring together precious materials, I do exhaustive research on fabrics to create unusual outdoor prints. The first release was a collaboration with Santoni, we made a presentation in Rome and Milan. We are still at the beginning of distribution, but we are aiming for an online sales network. I manage the design and production carried out by small and medium craftsmen, with whom I follow the various stages of creation.

PPM the talent of mr derek castiglioni

9 – How much did Instagram influence your work?

I think it’s the most important and greatest ‘window’ we can have in the world nowadays. Truly a revolutionary means of promoting one’s work.

10 – What is your talent?

To put passion and believe strongly in what I do, always going my way. Passion counts as much as love: they always come to people. It is essential to have your eyes open to the world, to understand what is happening without being static. The world is running and we must run with it, we must always be ready for change. I had great examples in my family: my father was always in the office at 6.30 am to start at 7. Discipline and perseverance, dedication for what we do, being changeable in a positive sense: these are other important aspects.

11 – The biggest project you’ve done so far?

It is a project that I carried out in the United Arab Emirates, for which, however, I have a confidentiality pact, and which gave me totally the opportunity to express my creativity.

12 – Projects for the future?

Carry on the furniture project that is still at the beginning and must be developed through a commercial network.

Interview by Alessio De’ Navasques
Photo by Andrea Buccella