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PARIS — For a while it seemed that Ora-ito, a publicity-savvy industrial designer here, would only ever exist in virtual reality. Redesigning products made by such brands as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Apple, then posting his results on the Web, the 26-year-old Parisian caught the attention of design-loving cyber-surfers — and drew threats of legal action.

Meanwhile, the designer amped up his own image, turning up everywhere, from fashion parties to trade shows, while still hoping to maintain his illusory world.

This story first appeared in the July 31, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I didn’t want to make real objects,” he says. “I wanted the dream to last.”

But suddenly the designer found the virtual knocked out of his reality. The Italian firm Cappellini entrusted Ora-ito with its new advertising campaign, a computer-generated image of an apartment filled with Capellini’s designs, and the company produced several pieces of Ora-ito-designed furniture, including his Petal chair, a colorful flower-shaped lounge chair and the Swing-Pod, a playful boxy swing.

Ora-ito, whose name is a play on his surname, Morabito, also is working on fragrance bottles for Adidas’ upcoming 3 perfume and those for Muse by Joop. And come spring, the trendy Parisian nightclub Cabaret will boast an Ora-ito-designed interior spaced out with a labyrinth of neon-lit alcoves, red leather banquettes and tables shaped like flying saucers. “I was inspired by James Bond, ‘Tron’ and Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001,’” he says.

While Ora-ito’s emergence in the real world came suddenly, it’s no surprise that lately he’s been busy dreaming up the set for a European sci-fi movie. What better to suit a virtual junkie?

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