Humans of Hmlet: Simone Leonelli

Singapore Mar 28, 2023

Equipped with a deep sense of innovation and curiosity, this artist is constantly hungry for new challenges.

A change in scenery

Meet Simone Leonelli, Italian artist and interior design lecturer. When Simo (as he is more affectionately known as) first moved to Australia, he was looking for a new adventure. Not content to stay still, he wanted to break out of his comfort zone and explore new ways to develop his art.

“What brought me to Australia was the desire for change and adventure,” he says. “I wanted to experience other cultures and improve my English! Travelling around and living around the world makes me feel free, because I can apply my skill set in any country and culture, which allows me to explore more.”

After several stints as a jewellery, architecture and interior designer, he currently teaches interior design at the University of Sydney (just “down the road” from Hmlet 11 William St where he lives) while working on his side projects. Not content to stick to traditional 2D mediums, Simo ventured into the use of new technologies, because “I felt the need to create something that I can touch.”

The merits of 3D printing

As soon as he discovered 3D printing, Simo was hungry to know more about it. With the constant evolution of technology, he explains, he enjoys more freedom in his art. He is deeply fascinated by the blurred boundary between science and art, and constantly explores the sweet spot between technology, creativity, and innovation. In 2014, he set up W230 Studio, which brings together the field of design with cutting-edge manufacturing processes.

“When you see something on paper, it looks good. But I’d always wonder if this thing can become a real object that can be manufactured,” he says. “3D printing allows everyone to produce anything they want more easily and at a lower cost. Technology keeps changing, so new technologies allow for better performance in manufacturing, so I feel more free when I create.”

To Simone, technology is a tool - “like a paintbrush or pencil” - that artists can wield, and each piece of art can tell a story or send a message.  “There’s always a concept behind each project I work on,” he shares. “It could be to raise awareness on issues like the environmental crisis. Technology helps me convey that message more effectively.”

The intersection of art and science

According to Simo, 3D printing is a highly sustainable method of production. “With 3D printing, you can customise your products for specific customers at the same cost of mass-producing a hundred. Plus, with a streamlined process, it cuts out things like freight shipping and packaging. I think art should be accessible to everyone - and new technology can improve workflow, and help you achieve better results faster and more easily.”

With his palpable enthusiasm for what he calls “the intersection between science and art”, Simo draws inspiration from everything and everywhere, from biology to being outdoors. Moving to Sydney fit right into his plans, as he sees the world as his oyster.

“I like to embrace challenges, to vary. My workflow is almost always the same, I just adapt it to new challenges. This is something that keeps me alive,” he says, “because I find energy from new challenges, not achievements.”

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