De Allegri + Fogale - Mise En Abyme Installation VandA
In Conversation With

Laetitia de
Allegri: The Cadence
of Colour

Words by Lucy Siddall

The Condo speaks to Laetitia de Allegri, Designer, Colour
Consultant and Creative Director, about the musicality of colour
and how intuition guides her choices.

De Allegri - Matches Carlos Place for P. Joseph Studio

Matches Store on Carlos Place, design Laetitia de Allegri for P. Joseph Studio. Photography by Cat Garcia.

Laetitia de Allegri didn’t choose colour; colour chose her. During her early career at Barber & Osgerby, management put her in charge of selecting colours for all projects and the rest, as they say, is history. This formative experience shaped her career path and the depth of understanding she would come to have surrounding pigment and its vital role in our lives. Now, her knowledge of art and design spans continents and eras. She is an encyclopedia of art, product design and architecture, yet she speaks so eloquently about her craft, almost like her creations are music, and she is the composer. She seamlessly marries a deep understanding of the history of design with her astute eye for materiality, shape and form, and the result is poetry.

Lucy Siddall: How would you describe your design philosophy?

Laetitia de Allegri: I appreciate what feels natural, not overcomplicated. Design that brings joy, energy and lightness to life, whether through colour or shape. Also, I need to feel a connection to the work I do. I never want to design for the sake of it. I try to be as conscious and sustainable as possible, but it’s hard, and truthfully, I don’t fully grasp that part of it yet.

“I see colour as music where you have different rhymes, rhythms and sounds.”

LS: Can you tell me about colour theory and the types of colours that work well together?

LDA: There are many colour theories, but I believe there isn’t a right or wrong. It also isn’t simply a matter of colour choice; hue, saturation and contrast all play a role. It is about balance and the dialogue between space, shape and light. I see colour as music where you have different rhymes, rhythms and sounds. Sometimes, they are harmonious and sometimes not. Like in jazz, a wrong note played intentionally becomes interesting, and it’s the same with colour. You can be subtle or very loud and edgy. It all depends on the message and atmosphere you’re trying to create.

Above: Mise en Abyme Installation in the V&A by Laetitia de Allegri and Matteo Fogale.

LS: Why do you think colour is so important in design?

LDA: Colour brings a place or piece alive. It impacts the mood and atmosphere and shifts the tone. One colour can make a space energised, cosy, calm or even stressed as people react differently. Aside from their aesthetics, colours have a powerful psychological effect on humans and can trigger a variety of moods and emotions. Red can be stimulating, whereas green is more soothing. The selection process isn’t just about how something will look visually but how it will impact us on a deeper, subconscious level.

“There are many colour theories, but I believe there isn’t a right or wrong. It also isn’t simply a matter of colour choice; hue, saturation and contrast all play a role. It is about balance and the dialogue between space, shape and light.”

LS: How do you approach colour in your work?

LDA: It’s very intuitive; I don’t follow a particular theory, and it depends on the project. I like muted colours, but I can also enjoy fresh, punchy, and colourful shades. I really appreciate both and want to embrace it all, somehow. In some projects, say architecture, the designer can be very bold, and it works. Richard Rogers's Wimbledon house is a statement: vivid, striking and colourful. It’s interesting and comes together very well (even though it’s not to my taste) within the scope of that project. Another excellent execution of colour in architecture is Casa Luis Barragán. His house is a piece of art. It feels so good, and it just works despite breaking design norms at the time. Yet I also like muted colours and spaces, so it depends on the client, the people you are collaborating with and the overall scope of the topic.

De Allegri for P. Joseph Studio - Brioni on Bruton Street

Brioni Store on Bruton Street. Design by Laetitia de Allegri for P. Joseph Studio, featuring the Scarpa Leather Easy Chair and Mario Bellini Carrara Marble Dining Table for Cassina (similar here).

De Allegri - Home Esplanade

De Allegri's mezzanine level featuring her 'UNTITLED Nº02' ceramic Magazine Rack, created for the exhibition “No function – no Sense?” at DEPOT BASEL in August 2012.

LS: How do you approach the colour selection process in a new project?

LDA: It varies a lot depending on the project. With furniture or products, first, I consider the concept and the environment in which the piece will sit, and then I look at design and shape. Colour is often the final step. With interiors, however, colour is at the centre of the design. I start with initial inspiration, create a narrative, and find references for mood and atmosphere. Then, I begin to gather materials and start a colour palette. I look at the location's history and consider its surroundings. I prioritise natural materials (glass, ceramic or metal) and aim to leave them in their natural state. I work with similar tones but love to contrast with fresh, bold colours sometimes. Occasionally, I will lead a project from a colour point of view. In these instances, I already have a theme or intention in mind and then build on it from there. When I was the Lead Designer on the Established & Sons Iris Tables by Barber & Osgerby, I approached the colour aspect of the project as a musician would. I searched for the best combination and played with the rhythm of colour using anodised aluminium swatches. Once we finalised the colours, we worked on the shape.

De Allegri + Fogale - Nebbia Collection

The Nebbia Collection by de Allegri & Fogale. Photography by Laila Pozzo for Doppia Firma.

LS: Can you talk me through a specific project and explain how you reached your ultimate colour decision? Perhaps the inimitable London Design Festival V & A installation or the Ace Hotel tableware.

LDA: The V&A Mise-en-abyme installation was on the bridge over the museum's Medieval and Renaissance sculpture gallery. We took inspiration for the project from the surrounding V&A Museum—the Renaissance room and the glass room next door. Due to weight restrictions, we worked with acrylic rather than glass, creating a passage that felt like you were heading to a mysterious and mythical place. We wanted it to feel surreal, like a dream, so the colours played an essential role in the design. The palette started very light, with electric colours, one by one subtly becoming darker and darker the further you went. The installation felt like a tunnel from outer space, almost like you were floating.

The Ace Hotel tableware was more straightforward, yet the colour decision came last. I designed The SECANT Collection for special events on the 7th floor, so they needed to work in various contexts and be functional enough to travel through the hotel during use. The collection is crafted from thin stainless steel sheets and welded together. I played with basic geometry and experimented with circles and squares, intersecting lines and curves and cutting parts away like slicing a cake, creating rhythm and volume. I didn't want to leave the stainless steel bare but had a limited colour palette as I had to work within the boundaries of the RAL colour chart (a manufacturing industry standard). I selected a deep blue colour that would look elegant across the various events held at the hotel yet stand the test of time for longevity and sustainability.

De Allegri - Home Shelving

De Allegri's home - featuring the Snoopy Lamp by Flos and Nereidi Vase by de Allegri & Fogale.

De Allegri - Brioni on Bruton Street for P. Joseph Studio

Brioni Store on Bruton Street. Design by Laetitia de Allegri for P. Joseph Studio.

LS: What and who inspires you?

LDA: Nature and art inspire me the most. However, inspiration comes from whatever surrounds you, so it varies daily. In terms of who, the list is long… but I would say one of my favourites is the sculptor Isamu Noguchi. Also, I find a lot of inspiration in the work of architect and designer Charlotte Perriand, architects Carlo Scarpa and Ettore Sottsass and artist James Turrell. Several years ago, I had the honour of visiting the James Turrell Museum in Colomé, Argentina. It’s a space dedicated entirely to his vast light installations—a powerful, sensory experience. Considering younger designers, I really appreciate the art and process of Max Lamb and Formafantasma.

LS: Finally, can you share some colour tips with us?

LDA: Putting colour into furniture or objects is most accessible at first. Paint is also an excellent way to experiment with colour. But with paint, you must try it first. Test multiple samples on the wall before committing, as the shade and tone will change according to the light—also, the more premium the paint, the better the quality. You pay for the depth and intensity of colour, which makes it more elegant and sophisticated. If you paint one of your main rooms, like the living room, start with one wall, not all of them. You can have fun with a smaller space such as a bathroom or toilet; you can be wilder there!

Discover de Allegri's work here.

De Allegri - Brioni on Bruton Street for P. Joseph Studio 02

The Brioni Store on Bruton Street, London. Laetitia de Allegri for P. Joseph Studio.