Mastering the Art of Versatility
TEXT: KIKI DEERE | PHOTO © STUDIO GORING & STRAJA
‘A jack of all trades’ may not necessarily sound like a compliment when applied to a business, but these days, versatility is much valued in a world where the skills needed to succeed are rapidly evolving. In this digital age, flexibility and versatility are synonymous with a modern workforce.
At architectural studio Goring and Straja (GaS Studio) in Milan, not having a core business is a plus. Versatility has been the firm’s hallmark since it was founded in 1997. “Creating versatile solutions allows our firm to be present in a number of spheres, from interiors and residential projects to urban planning and building renovation,” explains partner Lenka Lodo.
A Brief History
During its initial four years, GaS Studio specialised in interior design, offering services to a host of multinational clients. Along with a number of other projects, it took part in the design for major luxury brand Burberry, helping the British fashion house further position itself in the luxury market. GaS Studio quickly established itself as a leading interior design retail firm.
The firm then moved into the property and real estate sector, working with both green field and brown field projects, before moving on to student housing projects. GaS Studio soon found itself working on anything and everything, from building shopping centres and cinemas to furnishing shops, offices and private residences.
“Over the years, we have built up expertise in a variety of domains,”continues Lodo.
“Our strength is our ability to cater to a variety of clients with a wide array of projects, from designing a small jewellery cabinet at London’s Selfridges to building a vast office space in Milan. We deal with the most varied requests both in architecture and interior design. This versatile approach, coupled with our dynamic outlook, has established us as one of Italy’s leading architecture firms.”
Diversity in the Workplace
Even the team consists of a highly versatile group of professionals. Founding partner Andre Straja was born in Romania, brought up in Canada, worked in Texas and California for over a decade, before moving to France and eventually settling in Italy. Born to Italian parents, partner Lenka Lodo was raised in Paris but moved to Italy in her ’20s, while Sicilian born partner Giacomo Sicuro studied in Rome, lived in Milan and currently resides in Switzerland.
“Our international life experiences lie at the heart of our firm, giving us a forward-looking global outlook,” explains Straja. “With a dynamic and diverse team of staff, we embrace foreign cultures to create an inspiring fast-paced international environment. Our studio benefits from a diverse knowledge base with understanding of various cultures worldwide.” At GaS Studio, many employees and freelancers speak an average of three languages each.
A Global Outlook
Creativity, innovation and versatility are all key in Milan, Italy’s economic driver and the headquarters of many of the country’s multinational corporations. GaS Studio is operative worldwide, with offices in Milan, Rome, Lugano and Berkeley, California. “I had the great pleasure of working with William Turnbull in San Francisco and it was at that time that I met our U.S. partner Jim Goring. With locations in Italy, Switzerland and the US, we want to reach out to clients across the globe, offering a 24 hour service,” continues Straja.
The studio aims to create and design a variety of environments without using a specific style. “Each architectural project is unique as it adapts to our clients’ needs and requirements, reflecting the architecture of each location and improving the relationship between people and place. We want our projects to reflect our global image while recalling local architectural features. Projects in Milan, Italy’s capital of fashion and design, have a strong metropolitan design focus, for example, while a hotel project in the wine-producing Langhe area will echo local architectural traditions,” says Lodo.
Turning Ideas into Reality
In 2013, in addition to GaS, Giacomo Sicuro and his two partners founded OIL, a furniture and product design company based in Lugano. “The idea behind OIL is to convert our clients’ ideas into projects. We design furnishings based on clients’ needs and desires, helping them establish their individual style and identity.” The company works closely with clients to create new design concepts, providing bespoke support to creative brands wishing to reflect a coherent image while building credibility.