Vincenzo De Cotiis, who operates a namesake gallery, architecture firm, and interiors practice in Milan, has developed a distinctive approach that he calls "anti-design." His sculptural furniture, which populates the gallery, juxtaposes old and new—salvaged materials coexist with precious metals in the same piece, revealing textural nuances and patinas. His creations, usually one-off or limited edition, are highly collectible—and he works to ensure none prioritize function over beauty. De Cotiis is currently showcasing Archeo Black, a never-before-seen collection of marble and fiberglass furnishings at New York–based Carpenters Workshop Gallery, in tandem with Baroquisme, a collection released under his Progetto Domestico line during Salone del Mobile. Here, De Cotiis sheds light on his unconventional approach.
Interior Design: How did your design process start for the pieces in Archeo Black?
Vincenzo De Cotiis: For Archeo Black, perhaps more so than in other collections, I started working with the material first to generate the primary shapes. The layering of materials and the association between recovery and the new are often central elements in my creations.
ID: How do you determine when one of your objects is finished?
VDC: In reality, my pieces are never finished. The materials I work with change over time, reacting to the atmosphere, and they continue to evolve.
ID: What is it like working and living in Milan?
VDC: Milan is a place full of contradictions and culture. You have to really search to seek out the best places, and for this reason it’s a very inspiring city.
ID: You operate a Milan-based gallery, De Cotiis Gallery. What’s that like?
VDC: The gallery has existed for many years, but recently it has been closely connected to my interior design studies. It’s a very light space, which is unusual for Milan; it has big windows and is reminiscent of an industrial past. We exhibit pieces from my Progetto Domestico line, and we change them out at least four times a year.
ID: You describe your work as anti-design. What do you mean by that?
VDC: Withdrawing from the idea of functional design is part of my process. My pieces always maintain a rule or a function, but not in their original sense. Often a table can be something else, even if just as a gesture of art, such as a sculpture.
ID: Do you prefer designing interiors or objects, and why?
VDC: The two expressions are always interconnected; one feeds the other. In interior design, often it is necessary to remain anchored to some functional ways of thinking, but in both cases I feel it’s my duty to make a defense for artistic thinking.
ID: What are a few recent projects?
VDC: My most recent collection for Progetto Domestico, presented during Salone del Mobile, is Baroquisme. It is an expression of “liquid dizziness” and reflective surfaces. I also recently finished a house which was an all-encompassing project. I designed everything, from facades to fixtures, sofas to sinks.
ID: Latest design obsession?
VDC: Primitive sculptures.
ID: Latest interiors pet peeve?
VDC: Too much vintage decoration.
ID: A secret source you're willing to share?
VDC: Walking around with my eyes open, conducting continuous research.
Tour De Cotiis's Milan residence below: