Industrial Designer Interview
You said in an interview that: “Artist is a selfish act and design is a social act”, why? Good design can shift and change human behavior and create new social conditions. I preach about how design shapes the future and culture. I believe that design is extremely consequential to our daily lives and can positively change behaviors of humans. Products and furniture must deal with our emotional ground therefore increasing the popular imagination and experience. Bad design creates encumbrances, act as stressors, complicate tasks, and bring no beauty into the world. I let design inspire my art, and my art inspire design BUT Design is a social act, a political, act, and an economic act. Design is about ‘art of real issues’. Creativity is not enough in design. Design must answer to all the issues of use, behavior, aesthetics, manufacturing processes, material’s ecological issues, marketing, dissemination, etc. The more in tune we are with the commercial world the more relevant our work is. Design is about creating the physical utopia of our everyday life.
From your point of view, is design an art or a science? I almost consider myself more a cultural shaper than a hard-core industrial designer or artist, because there’s this weird drive internally to do something original in the world but touch many peoples experiences. There was a time when I did a lot of hardcore design that can be considered a science. I designed for Black & Decker, did Canada Post mailboxes, all these utilitarian objects. Then when I went off on my own in New York, the only projects that I could get where these objects that were more – how can I say? – more highbrow. Like you get to design a piece of furniture or ceramic plates. But you’re not really doing that everyday design, like the objects that we use every day. So I went into more artistic design and I became much more well known. But I found myself going back to what I always believed in, which was the banal stuff all around us, things I felt I could just make better. Every object in our lives could be inspiring, poetic, beautiful … but the only way that they will remain is if they really work. And this is where design loses its path, and where consumers get disappointed in design – when things look great but don’t function at that same high level.
Do you believe in sustainable design? Every good design, should replace three lesser designs, to cut down on waste, and to build long-lasting relationships with consumers and reinforcing a brand’s core value.
Can we talk a bit about your process at the beginning of a project? How do you conceive of it? How do you build it in your mind before you start? Every project is different and usually the design process is different as well. It is my diversity that affords me the ability to cross-pollinate ideas, materials, behaviors, aesthetics and language from one typology to the other. I have about 40 projects going at a time and each project perpetually inspires the next. I fill sketch books with my concepts and then I bring my designs back to the studio. It is imperative to start with the concept then develop a form around it. One can think sculpturally and conceptually of the idea. My team creates 3D renders of my ideas, as well as research materials, production processes.
When you do large projects, how do you know when it is finished? Well large projects like buildings and interiors tend to be finished when they are complete and built, but up to that point I perpetually try to improve every aspect of them even up to the last minute. I strive for perfection which although unreachable, the closer I feel I get the better the end result.
How would your life change if you were no longer allowed to create art? I would not need to exist.
Which colours, textures and techniques do you prefer in furniture design? Certain forms, line’s, colors, textures, functions, all touch and communicate to our senses and our daily experiences.I call my work sensual minimalism because it is not laboured with embellishment yet has a more human, more sensual connection with us. All objects and spaces have semantic language. I love pink and techno colors- colors that have a vibrancy and energy of our digital world. There are really millions of colors so it is ridiculous in this life to have a single favorite of anything- favorite song, favorite book. The beauty of this farrago in life is the broad diversity and choice of everything.
Describe three of your most enjoyable projects. I’m designing several hotels, condominiums, restaurants and other hospitality projects around the world. I just presented a project for a 500 room resort in Cancun as well as a 400 room budget hotel in Amsterdam
I love my design for Artemide Cadmo. With this design I set out to design an object that looks as if defined by the density of the light it contains. A solid surface is forged into a fluid shape to elegantly rise up, and embrace what appears to be a volume of light. The black and white are very simple and can fit in any décor. I would never choose red for my own home but it is very high Italian deign oriented. If it looks good in red it is a classic. Artemide were kind enough to make me a custom Cadmo for my home in baby pink.
I love bobble because it was conceived as a necessary and responsible product. In fact all products we design should have this agenda as the primary goal. I believe it can help this earth. bobble water bottle will be a global phenomenon. Across the globe it is important to conserve. Shipping costly spring water is a huge detriment to the earth. Drinking straight from the tap, using BPA free plastic and saving hundreds of bottles at a time can only help to save the world.
What is your understanding of how interior architecture and exterior architecture complete the project design? I love the immediate impact an interior can have on people lives. With interiors I know that masses of people have access to my designs, and they aren’t just looking at it, they are physically immersing themselves inside of the design.
What famous artists have influenced you, and how? As an undergraduate studying in Italy, Ettore Sottsass taught me not to be too much of an artist in order to be a great designer. I keep his vases and a few Memphis works around to remind me of this. An artist is not a designer, and a designer is not an artist. Looking at his work brings me immense joy and drives me to create objects that will bring others joy and more importantly that constantly question the status quo. Also I studied briefly with Gaetano Pesce and Adries Von Onck. I took night classes with Achille Castiglione at the Polytechnic and I worked with Rodolfo Bonetto over a year. I was very inspired and interested in Alchimia, Mendini, and Alessandro Guerrieri, Superstudio, Archizoom, Gio Ponti, and Bruno Munari. Some of my favorite designers were Luigi Colani, Raymond Lowey, and Lazlo Moholy Nagy.
What other interests do you have outside of art? Absolutely, I go to the gym for weight training 5 days a week and run 12k. I love to swim, cook and work on my mental and spiritual health by going to lots of museums and galleries. I love sketching, painting, listening to music, lying by my pool, sun tanning, sleeping, and dreaming and thinking about the world, about love, about people, about peace, about beauty, and about one romantic engaging fulgent energetic seductive inspiring place we call earth.
What advice can you give to prospective students thinking about an education and career in industrial design? Also, I always give the advice: Be smart, be patient, learn to learn, learn to be really practical but imbue poetics, aesthetics, and new paradigms of our changing product landscape. You must find new languages, new semantics, new aesthetics, experiment with new material, and behavioral approaches. Also always remember obvious HUMAN issues in the product like Emotion, ease of use, technological advances, product methods, humor, and meaning and a positive energetic and proud spirit in the product. This is what is missing! Many products have a very short shelf life, and they must capture the spirit of the time in their product lines and not worry about looking, behaving, performing like everyone else.
Share something you would like the world to know about you. I was diagnosed with cancer in early January 2011 and underwent surgery. It was quite a shock considering I eat healthy, exercise, and take care of myself. My resolution was to continue to flight my cancer with a hardcore homeopathic diet / remedies and healthplan. I am now cancer free and want to help others flight this plague.
So my new year’s resolution is to build awareness for colon cancer for both men and women. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2016 about 140,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal or colon cancer and about 50,000 people will die of the disease in the US. I was fortunate that I decided to be tested at 49 and caught it at an early stage. If I did not go I would could be dead now. I recommend that all men and women over the age of 40 get tested. Currently, only about half of people aged 50 or older, for whom screening is recommended, report having received colorectal cancer testing.