When sustainable architecture meets leather: an interview with AquiliAlberg Architects


Several architecture and design projects have been created by AquiliAlberg Architects for Conceria Superior. Ergian Alberg tells us what it means to combine their stylistic research with leather, in search of elegance and sustainability.

Superior is a company that has amazed us from the start. Behind a company that works leather there are hot topics, like sustainability. This industry will need to overcome many challenges in the future, and Superior knows it has to face them” tells us Ergian Alberg, owner together with Laura Aquili of AquiliAlberg Architects. The two architects met at the international offices of Zaha Hadid, then worked in London, Holland, China and Rome for prestigious companies, like Oma, Unstudio and Fuksas. In 2006 they decided to found the their studio, first in Milan, then in Lugano, to pursue an approach in which architecture and design blend with art and graphics.

In recent years, AquiliAlberg Architects has worked alongside Conceria Superior to complete several architectural and design projects related to our luxury leathers. Specifically, the studio has conceived and designed the stand for Première Vision (built in 2018 and still in use), the renovation of the showroom in Via Quintino Sella in Milan (inaugurated in December 2018) and the new stand for Lineapelle (2020).

Ergian, what was the challenge for you while working on these projects?
To transform the DNA of Superior into an architectural style. We were inspired by the softness of the leather and the fact that, during the tanning process, the hides are dried on elements in constant movement. These vertical lines are the same as the ones found in the stands and the showroom. We combined our own idea of movement to that of Superior.

On a creative level, what was the most interesting part of the work?
Seeing how our research work and our style can enhance the particular product that is leather. In the showroom, for example, you can understand the style, its simplicity, and how it goes with the product: Superior’s leathers always remain the protagonists.

Sustainability is central to Superior’s work, but also to AquiliAlberg’s…
Yes, we always try to use recycled and recyclable materials, bought from certified suppliers: a choice that’s consistent with the times. In Superior’s showroom we introduced aluminium bars, a material that is recyclable. For the stands we mainly used wood, which is always recyclable, and non-toxic paints. In addition, the stands are used for several events, which helps not to waste. We also have used the idea of vertical elements spaced out from each other: this way there are voids without using any extra material and we were able to reduce by 1/2 the amount of materials employed. 

What can you say about the collaboration with Superior?
In general we can say that the CEO of Superior Stefano Caponi and the Creative Director Massimiliano Schiavini were far-sighted. They understood the value of approaching young architects, but with a solid international experience. There’s definitely chemistry and throughout the years we both benefited from the work carried out together.