Passion for the Territory and Greenery: Mediterranean Design between Roots and Innovation

Interview with members of the Ismo group: Nico Devito, Rocco Mele and Carmine De Renzi

In the world of design, there are creative entities capable of skillfully combining tradition and innovation, giving life to unique and surprising works. Gruppo Ismo is one of these design collectives that, under the auspices of this suffix, has managed to embody a passion for the territory and native materials, creating design objects that tell the story of their land. In this exclusive interview, Nico Devito, Rocco Mele, and Carmine De Renzi, three of the creative minds behind Gruppo Ismo, reveal the secret of their success and the philosophy that guides their design.

YouTube player

Let's start with Ismo, what is it? What is a design collective?

Nico Devito (Designer): Ismo was born from the common passion of five people who came together to create design objects that reflect our territorial identity. This year, at the Milan Furniture Fair, we achieved great success, demonstrating our ability to express ourselves and highlight local artisanal forms.

For this experience, we collaborated with a southern company specializing in marble. Each of us designed products that tell stories related to our region.


Since we're talking about projects, what would you like to tell us today?

Rocco Mele (Architect): Ismo's projects start with an idea for a product that reflects the typical processes of our region but with an industrial profile. We want to create objects that are in harmony with local productions.


Regarding Mediterranean design, how do you combine contemporary design with the production capabilities of tradition?

Carmine De Renzio (Architect): We are very connected to our land and our way of life. Our products are designed to be used outdoors, taking into account the favorable climate of our region, Puglia.


Greenery has become a design tool. Do you also work in relation to greenery, especially since we are guests of Verde Profilo?

Rocco Mele (Architect): Design starts with the idea of this important relationship between architecture and greenery, but I believe it is a fundamental aspect of all types of design. This relationship also somehow influences the world of design because there are objects that are directly or indirectly linked to greenery and nature.


Is there a reference to masters like Buti or bolide design in your way of working?

Carmine De Renzio (Architect): Remo Buti has definitely been my absolute master. I also had the privilege of meeting Stefano Giovannoni and Guido Venturin with whom I shared my early experiences. Remo taught us to understand many things, many formal balances that I perhaps didn't have clear in my mind before then. So, this reference exists and is strong in my design.


I sensed a connection with the sea, you mentioned Mediterranean design. Would you like to add something regarding this great theme?

Nico Devito (Designer): Our passion for the sea is in our blood, we live our relationship with the sea every day. In our projects, but also in the products designed for this collection, the outdoors. The salinity that could ruin any element has been adapted into a product made of stainless steel and surfaces that withstand the outdoors well. It's a continuous osmosis with the sea and therefore with the salinity and brine that truly distinguish all our thoughts.


There's a very interesting theme emerging, and greenery plays a major role in this, which is related to the aging of the artifact.

In your opinion, are there other dynamics of this kind that you are implementing regarding the passage of time, patina, and the aging of the project?

Nico Devito (Designer): I'll give you an interesting example in this regard. Following the lockdown, a client I had designed a spectacular penthouse for ten years ago in the Umbertina area of Bari contacted me. During the pandemic, he decided to create a garden but still had space available, so he wanted an extension of this already executed project, dedicated to the garden.

Urban gardening is certainly becoming an important element, combining the beauty of greenery, the hands-on aspect of cultivating and maintaining small crops, care, passion, and love. So, in my opinion, greenery is playing a significant role in creativity, even on a personal level.


So "care" can be your keyword? What is the keyword for all of you?

Nico Devito (Designer): "Care" and "dedication" are the mantras of our work. We have always been driven by the desire to take care of every detail.

Rocco Mele (Architect): I believe that, alongside "tradition," we look to innovation, sustainable innovation. I think this duality is fundamental for every design approach, especially regarding contemporary sustainability in design and the lifecycles of objects.

Carmine De Renzio (Architect): I have always told my collaborators, "Surprise without overdoing it," and my motto is "beyond" in the sense of going beyond easy imagination.

Gruppo Ismo is an extraordinary example of how tradition and innovation can be combined in the world of design. The creative minds of Nico Devito, Rocco Mele, and Carmine De Renzio have taken us on a journey to discover their design philosophy, emphasizing the importance of their connection to the territory and nature. Ismo continues to amaze with its unique projects, demonstrating that design can be an art form that embraces the past and looks to the future with creativity and passion.

Interview conducted by Giorgio Tartaro.

Related articles

All articles
Would you like to receive our Newsletter?

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Via Fratelli Cervi, 2
20875 Burago di Molgora (MB)


T +39 039 653081

SWISS Headquarters

Via G. Calgari 2,
6900 Lugano


T +41 091 9859064

© 2023 © Verde Profilo Srl PI/CF: 06947710965 sede legale: via valletta 13 - Usmate Velate 20865 MB - Italia