Born in Padova, Paola Petrobelli had an insatiable curiosity to understand how things work. As a small child she built basic circuits and made lamps from household objects with batteries and bulbs, later she could be found taking apart her motocross bike in a need to understand how the components worked as a whole.
This curiosity led her to gain an MSc as a molecular biologist allowing her to explore the workings that underpin the world in intricate detail, this process of systematic investigation and an understanding of how nature strips back form to the most basic function can now be seen in her work.
The scientific and the creative process are often considered to be in opposition however Paola uses the reductive linear process to create works of breathtaking simplicity and elegance with each part and form fighting hard to justify its existence in her pieces, as it would in nature.
Her early works were functional glassworks that she insisted needed to be handled and interacted with, not to be simply observed but to act as functional containers.
Growing up close to Venice it was perhaps natural she was drawn to work with glass. Glass as a natural material can take organic forms with ease but these forms are not of interest to Petrobelli and her work. She insists on forming it and controlling to take the forms she demands, the medium has a set of rules and limitations that force parameters on form, especially when hand worked as with her pieces.
As her work progressed this non-permanence of objects remained a theme, her stacking lamps are made from components that can be re-ordered by the owner and in fact, demand it, as they are shipped as components rather than a defined pattern or form.
Petrobelli has worked on commissions for prestigious domestic projects in the United Kingdom and Italy, often connected to major players of the contemporary art world.
She has collaborated with Wallpaper Magazine for their “handmade” series, she has also collaborated with Christian Dior, Peroni and The Other Criteria.
Her work has been exhibited at the Triennale Design Museum as part of the exhibition: Il design Italiano dopo le Crisi, Autarchia, Austerita’ e Autoproduzione in 2014-2015; and as part of the exhibition: 21st Dentury, Design after Design in 2016-2017.
She has developed projects with the French Gallery Perimeter Art and Design, and the English Gallery Libby Sellers, she has collaborated with the Italian Gallery Nilufar, Siegfried Contemporary in London and Angela Weber in Zurich.
Her work has been exhibited at “PAD” Pavilion of Art and Design in London and Paris, Design Miami-Basel, The London Design Festival, Salone del Mobile Milan and Nomad Capri and St Moritz.
2004 “Paola Petrobelli” Galleria Paolo Marcolongo, Padova
2009 “Verre contemporain, London” Perimeter Art and Design, Paris
2009 Collaboration with Other Criteria, London
2010 “Inside-Out, Paola Petrobelli”, London Design Festival, Perimeter Art and Design, Paris
2011 “Paola Petrobelli: Officina Insetto et Autres Histoires” Perimeter Art and Design, Paris
2011 “What’s on the table” Perimeter Art and Design, Paris
2012 “Wallpaper, Handmade III” Salone del Mobile, Milano
2012 “Unlimited” Galleria Nilufar, Milano
2012 Christian Dior “Lady Dior Seen By”
2013 “24” Gallery Libby Sellers, London
2014 Peroni “House of Peroni”
2014 Triennale Design Museum, Milan. “AUTO DA SÉ Il design italiano tra autarchia, austerità e autoproduzione"
2016 “Astronauts of Inner Space” 50 Golborne, London
2016 Triennale Design Museum, Milan. “W WOMAN in Italian Design"
2022 “ii!!ii!” Siegfried Contemporary, London
2023 “Aurora” Siegfried Contemporary, Gstaad