A series of new collaborations including Luigi Rosselli & Evi O
Luigi Rosselli Architects is a practice which places emphasis on a humanist approach to architecture and design. He has a longstanding working relationship with William Dangar, founder of Robert Plumb.
Q&A with Design Architect: Luigi Rosselli and Project Architect: Jane McNeill
Q/ Robert Plumb started their business with letterboxes and now you have designed a new range for them. What was the brief?
A/ The original Robert Plumb letterbox range is such a well-designed product functionally and aesthetically, that it is widely specified by architects and interior designers. However, as many companies are now producing “copycat” products of inferior quality, Robert Plumb wanted to move a step ahead. They also saw the need to reassess the function of a letterbox. What is now being delivered has dramatically changed and Robert Plumb saw the need for a new product to cater for this shift.
Q/ Did you have to reassess how we use letterboxes these days?
A/ Indeed! This was a major part of the brief. The number of envelopes being delivered to letterboxes is decreasing with the trend towards paperless business and the amount of parcels increasing with the popularity of online shopping. The standard sized letterbox does not cater for the secure delivery of parcels, and although there are many secure parcel post boxes on the market, their design is often about function at the expense of form.
Q/ Did you introduce any elements that change the interaction with them as functional object?
A/ The Rosselli letterbox provides easy use for both the postie and the recipient.
Q/ With an object so timeless was it hard to introduce newness that wasn’t just for the sake of novelty?
A/ A large part of our design work is residential. When we specify letterboxes we look for a design that fits in with the ethos and finishes in rest of the project. Our design is unique in its geometry and in its choice of finishes, and we believe fills a gap that both Robert Plumb and ourselves identified in the market.
Q/ The curved metal ‘mouth’ seems to welcome mail – is that the idea?
A/ Yes, we called the letterbox slot the “mouth” and the horizontal version “smiles” at you as well.
Q/ Were there many iterations to get it right?
A/ The design came quite quickly as a progression of the original highly successful Robert Plumb design. There was no need to “reinvent the wheel” as the wheel just needed to be morphed according to the brief that we were given.
Q/ Will you be installing one at home or work?
A/ We have recently built our new studio, known as “The Beehive” in Surry Hills, and we have installed two prototype versions of the Rosselli letterbox. We are looking forward to specifying the Robert Plumb Rosselli letterbox in our future projects.
Evi O. Studio: A New Family of Letters + Numbers
Evi Oetomo is an artist and award-winning book designer, who worked with Will Dangar on his book GARDEN and whose love of type has led her to design a range of house numbers and letters exclusively for Robert Plumb.
Q/ How did this collaboration come about?
A/ Will has both a big picture and a detail driven personality. So when we worked together on the book he would ask about what fonts I had used and why. Eventually he asked me to create a new family of numbers and letters to add to the existing Robert Plumb range.
Q/ There must be thousands of fonts to choose from. What guided you in terms of starting the process?
A/ By designing his book I became familiar with his work over 15 years and I got a sense of his design sensibility. The existing number are Helvetica – a widely used font and I wanted to develop something else that is more like him and how I saw the Robert Plumb brand - more robust, raw and design led.
Q/ Is it different thinking about how a font works three-dimensionally as opposed to in two dimensions?
A/ I was very mindful of the production process and didn’t want to choose a script font that was too tricky to manufacture. We also had to take into account things like shrinkage.
Q/ You decided on a font called Knockout – why was it the right choice?
A/ This font is a long-standing favourite of mine designed by Hoefler & Frere-Jones – two world famous type designers who have since split - but were very ahead of their time.Knockout is a really versatile font with different weights, so I experimented until I found one that translates well to ceramic production and suits the brand in terms of feeling robust and confident across A-Z and 0-9.
Q/ What about how it is finished?
A/ We decided to leave it unfinished and raw – true to the honesty of the material with the philosophy that it will get wet, weather and gain patina – getting better with age.