DOMENICO SANTORO: UNLEASH THE DESIGN




Domenico Santoro is an Italian designer and co-founder of the Pastina Design Studio with his work and life partner, Francesca Puddu. In his work, Domenico is eccentric, thoughtful and bold: he has devoted his professional life to unchain the design from the furnishing world and let it free to expand towards every aspect of reality. Thanks to his smooth and delicate lines, Domenico’s design elements go beyond furniture and light on accessories, jewels and masks, which are the leading items of his project "Aria", realized in March 2020 in order to raise funds for the Covid-19 emergency.


We had a pleasant talk with Domenico to learn more about his work, his fanciful ideas and his vision of a boundless design.



We aim to eradicate Pastina Studio from a physical address because, in our opinion, this will be the natural evolution for most professional activities in the future and we don’t want to be caught unprepared.

Hello Domenico, tell us a bit about yourself.


I'm Domenico Santoro, I’m an Italian designer and creative director of studio Pastina (learn more at www.pastinaisgood.com). Pastina is a studio operating with a global and boundless approach to design. Our activity is focused on the development of design, architecture, fashion and art projects and we have customers from Europe, Asia and North America.




How are you doing and how did you spend the lockdown?


I’m doing very well, considering the circumstances. I spent the lockdown in my holiday house and love nest on the Lucanian Dolomites with my work and life partner, Francesca Puddu.

Mobility and remotely are the keywords in our work approach. Francesca and I have always been used to work on the go, so the lockdown hasn't changed our modus operandi (at least in practical terms), and our collaborators work almost exclusively remotely. We aim to eradicate Pastina Studio from a physical address because, in our opinion, this will be the natural evolution for most professional activities in the future and we don’t want to be caught unprepared.

The quarantine has imposed a stop to many of our work activities, but this gave us the opportunity to work on several projects put aside and waiting to be dusted off: in June, in fact, we filed three patents for industrial invention.

Beyond that, during the first days of the emergency we created "Aria". Aria is a project launched in March 2020 with the aim of giving our contribution as designers to fight the Covid-19 emergency.

The first tool people needed but couldn’t find were masks, so, by the end of March, we produced and put on the market our personalized ones. This lead us to create "Aria": a step by step online guide that allows people (needing a basic knowledge of how to use needle and thread) to create their own DIY emergency mask, even using their old clothes’ fabrics (have a look and learn more on the dedicated page: www.pastinaisgood.com/aria-project). And Aria is not over yet: it is still possible to download the guide with templates and instructions for making your personalized emergency mask.






Tell us about your art.


I read, process and rewrite. Not literally, of course.

I mean, my job follows this pattern: first, I deeply look into a specific context; then, I process the information collected; finally, I translate it into a project.




How did "Pastina" project start?

Francesca and I met while attending the Università "La Sapienza" in Rome, Italy, and we have been together ever since. We attended the very same academic courses and we even graduated the same day, both for our bachelor’s degree and our master’s degree, in 2006 in Industrial Design and in 2009 in Architecture.

Afterwards, we worked with different studios and in 2012 we finally thought it was time to start our own one.






“How do I explain to my wife that when I look out the window I'm working?”, Joseph Conrad said. It is kind of the same for me.


Do you have a preferred material that you like to work with?


I don't have any specific favorite materials: sometimes, I happen to have a crush on a specific material but, when it comes to work with companies, I like being able to use new materials and technologies and even experimenting, when possible.

This is a key aspect of my work, that's why I always try to follow closely the prototyping and product engineering phases of the companies I work with.


We have to say that your work conveys a sense of simplicity and elegance at the same time. What's on your mind when you are working?


“How do I explain to my wife that when I look out the window I'm working?”, Joseph Conrad said. It is kind of the same for me.


Who or what do you find inspiring?

Many people told me I have an almost morbid curiosity about "human activities", that is human activities in the broadest possible meaning. And it's true. This is my greatest source of inspiration, if you can call it that, and I think it is a quite common interest among people in my working field.






Design though is so much more than a mere way of improving furniture, and it should be considered as a useful tool for many other economic sectors.

Do you think that design will suffer a severe crisis due to C

ovid-19 emergency, just like other fields? If so, how do you think it would overcome it?


According to many experts, since this crisis isn’t due to an economic collapse like in 2008, we should be expecting a quick restart.

In support of this thesis, I have to admit we are receiving encouraging feedbacks from our customers, especially from international markets major players. Anyways, speaking of furnishing, a crisis had already been going on since before the emergency, and it was due to much bigger systemic problems, mostly related to the environment, climate and society.


In this perspective, Covid-19 emergency has had the merit of being a turning point to start from exploring new ways of business.

You ask me how I think design field could get over this difficult situation, but I honestly cannot give you an answer. It is a matter of very complex problems and dynamics, so it is difficult to find out what strategy might be helpful for particular sector and how.


We think a winning strategy might be start acting globally stopping narrowing the perspective on design. In Italy, for example, design has always gone hand in hand with furniture. This is not wrong; we actually work mostly with furnishing companies. Design though is so much more than a mere way of improving furniture, and it should be considered as a useful tool for many other economic sectors.











What's so special about you, Domenico, that other people lack?


The skill I’m most proud of is that I can shave my hair myself, even in the back, without looking. I am sure nobody else in the world can do the same.







Do you have any future plans you can tell us about?


We think design to be such an important process for companies, because it is not only something to apply to the development of a product, but it is also and mostly a helpful mindset to address issues not directly related to production.

We have just started showing this approach to design to some companies we are working with, and it would be nice to being able to unchain the design from the development process and let it free to expand towards other production aspects.


Follow more projects by Pastina Studio on Instagram.









Interview & Article by

Vivian di Lorenzo


Images from

Domenico Santoro

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