Bespoke By Design
Interior designer Albano Daminato’s newly launched AD2012 shows just why the devil is in the details when it comes to beautifully designed and crafted furnishings
There are two kinds of interior designers in this world. One will flip the pages of a furniture catalogue, rummage around flea markets, haunt estate auctions, visit furniture showrooms and, from there, piece together a look for a room.
The other, representing a much smaller group of practitioners, certainly does a little of this, but in the main, prefers to design most of the furnishings themselves. Whether a couch, a side table, a lamp or even a serving board, the obsessive need to give voice to an individual aesthetic precludes the inclusion into the final design of all but the most classic of designs to accent his own creations.
Albano Daminato fits firmly into the latter category. In a long career that has taken in Sydney, Singapore and now Bangkok, the Australian-born designer has always held fast to a design approach that is steely in its individualism as it cleaves to an aesthetic of purity, where there is not a single unnecessary object.
Whether a hotel suite in Bhutan, a swanky restaurant in Singapore, or a private North American residence, the detailing is obvious to the untrained eye—even if it may not be immediately obvious just how much thought and care have gone into making a space feel like a comforting cocoon.
One of the last of a generation of designers who still designs by hand rather than by computer, Daminato has, in many cases, extended that thoughtfulness to even designing his own fabric pattern. Not because he can, but because it’s necessary.
“Although the international design market is saturated with furniture and fittings, I have often found that they simply don’t meet my or my clients’ modes of use or requirements,” he explains. “Perhaps it involves finding a sofa of a particular dimension or proportion, or a piece of furniture that would fit a multiple-use requirement, or simply finding furniture that would work holistically with my approach to interior design, furnishings that would blend seamlessly into my interiors from an aesthetic and material point of view.”
More often than not, the designer is called upon to design every single facet of an interior—from the entire shell down to its fixed cabinetry, furniture, lamp fittings, rugs, accessories and even specially woven textiles. This tailored approach has meant that while each project is assured a very individual language that is assigned for each client, it has also resulted in Daminato’s distinctive MO being imprinted on every item he designs. Over the years, he has accumulated an impressive catalogue of designs that, with a bit of bespoke tweaking, could be made commercially available.
Enter P5, a furniture boutique in Singapore that specialises in a small stable of classic and contemporary designs by the likes of Serge Mouille and BD Barcelona. Daminato is working with the company to produce AD2012, a by-appointment-only collection of furniture and accessories.
While it’s convenient to say that AD2012 is a neat summary of Daminato’s oeuvre to date, he is careful to point out that it is not a repackaging of past hits. “The designs within the collection may have had their embryonic beginnings in a particular project, either for a private residence or hotel interior, but the items themselves are inspired by or re-workings of those designs. Some items were produced expressly for a particular client or setting and are not reproduced. Others, however, have become part of the collection and will continue to be developed as part of the entire family of pieces.”
The exclusivity of AD2012 is reflected in the fact that a price list is not available. As each item is bespoke, the cost of base materials, fabrics and finishes varies greatly, affecting the final retail price. Production time, too, varies. Rugs, for instance, are hand-knotted and require three to four months from final colour approval, while sofas and fabrics generally require two to six months, depending on the complexity of the piece.
If it’s not already clear, owning a piece from AD2012 is not for someone in a hurry. Both time and the devil are in the details. “Finding the right craftspeople, upholsterers and tailors to match our eye for detail,” says Daminato, “has been our biggest challenge. To this end, we try and source each piece from where a particular craft is their specialty.”
For now, the core range is almost capsule-like, but enough to form the nucleus of a very distinctive look. Besides several fabric upholstered sofas, armchairs and daybeds, Daminato has included credenza units with integrated lamps, seat benches and stools, bronze side tables of various dimensions and finishes, and brass bowls and candle stands.
True to form, the designer is in no rush to add to the collection. Some things, especially the good ones, take time. “I don’t see it as a seasonal, fashionable or rapidly expanding brand. I prefer to design pieces that are essential for quality living and that will be timeless and age appropriately with their use. We will add gradually to our core collection, altering proportions, angles, dimensions and totally new pieces as required for each new project.
“Whilst I am not a fan of labelling my work, the direction for the collection is certainly elegance, quality, timelessness and tranquillity. We like to think that these pieces will form part of a relaxed, welcoming and sophisticated way of living.”