Banda CEO Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi discusses the underlying parallels between Noël Coward's work and his own company's approach to design
Impeccably dressed and brilliantly eloquent, Noël Coward was the epitome of English wit and sophistication, with more than a dash of showbiz extravagance. As well as being one of the 20th century’s most iconic playwrights, he was also the ultimate creative polymath, turning his hand to acting, directing, singing and choreography.
Despite his humble beginnings as the son of a piano salesman, it was Coward’s introduction to, and affinity for, British high society that would shape his career. The complicated relationships and eccentricity of the upper classes would be the basis of his most famous works, and their trademark wit is as biting today as it was more than half a century ago. Private Lives, Hay Fever and Blithe Spirit are still some of the most-performed plays in the world.
When Banda decided to create a new advertising campaign, it was the essence of Noël Coward, as well as his 1932 play Design for Living, that proved a rich source of inspiration. For Banda CEO Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, this intriguing choice of theme expresses the intrinsic link between the famous playwright and his company’s philosophy, as he explains here.
Why did you choose Coward’s play for your advertising campaign? And how does its title and plot relate to Banda?
‘At Banda, we focus on designing spaces that perform on both an aesthetic and interactive level. In today’s market, it is not enough to create a home that just looks great; it has to function at the highest possible level, too.
‘Design for Living operates on the same two-tier approach: Coward’s real achievement is in writing a play that works beautifully on a structural level, while being open to interpretation from several angles. The way he builds on small details to create an effect that is subtle but layered is similar to our own approach at Banda. Once I became aware of these parallels, the idea of using the play for the campaign became too good an opportunity to ignore.’
What do you love about Coward and why do you think his plays are still so popular?
‘Coward had the ability to create fantastically layered scripts, offering a unique yet honest portrayal of early 20th-century society and, although his plays were frequently ahead of their time, they have remained modern and relevant to today.’
What is the significance of quoting the stage directions, particularly the last line, ‘the furniture may be left to the producer’s discrimination‘?
‘The power of suggestion in Coward’s work is one of the reasons for its enduring success. We thought it would be interesting to demonstrate that another way to view our company would be that we are akin to theatre producers while our clients play the part of the protagonists. It isn’t much of a stretch to see that the homes we design are real sets used by actual characters as the backdrop to their lives.
‘We quoted Coward’s stage directions to highlight the fact that we design turnkey homes in which every scenario has already been considered, every element already thought out and provided for. In our developments, everything from the choice of architect to the finish of the ironmongery has been selected with the end user in mind.
‘I feel the last line here is important because it demonstrates that no matter how well our spaces have been designed or equipped, until someone decides to move in and make it their home, it is only at best a very beautiful set.’
What do you want people to take away from this campaign?
‘What Coward proved was the importance of being able to break out of the mould and challenge industry standards. We have always understood the importance of standing out from the crowd, and this campaign allows us to engage with our target market using a different set of rules. We wanted to move away from the typical marketing approach and demonstrate our ability to think and act independently. Our aim is to be considered ahead of our time for many years to come – exactly like Noël Coward.’
‘Design for Living’ campaign featured in: