Ingenuity – China- cover story & interview Issue n.18/Nov 2012

Interview Ingenuity (China, Issue nr 18, Date: Nov, 2012)

Special thanks to Abby for the patience and the interview

Q: What is your Design concept?

I have different approaches to create a design. Social criticism can be one reason. Another reason to design an object is the pure fascination of a form or material. In any case I try to combine movement r change into an object. But also contrasts pay an important role. Those are my ingredients for my design. I apply those ingredients either to unique pieces, small editions or open production runs.
Movements and change are intriguing and awakes someone’s curiosity. When a viewer ask him or herself: “Can it move? How can it move? Does it work?”
Simple example. Imagine you put a white box in a room with a lot of people, And in another room you put the same box with a red button on it. Well I suppose that the box with the red button will evoke much more reaction than the plain white one. I try to create white boxes with red buttons, well not literately of course.

Q: Do different experiences in Germany and Italy have influence on your design?

Germany, Italy and even the Netherlands have impact on my design. Let me shortly explain each.
Germany has a high standard on quality, which mirrors in my products. I make the prototypes myself but try to find feedback, from both craftsmen and engineers to improve technical details.
I benefit from the city Aachen where I live. Although it is relatively small, it offers a variety of technical services and manufacturers.
My sense for sustainability is rooted in my Italian origin. My family lives in south Italy. Espacially my old family members grew up in an old fashioned way from growing their own food to produce their own wine and olive oil to sell on local markets. But this generation is slowly disappearing.
I studied in the Netherlands at the Academy of Fine Arts & Design in Maastricht. Here I could develop my artistic hand writing. At this point the experiences from Germany and Italy played a major role.

Q: How do you use wood in your design?

The different kinds of wood are the most important materials.
Wood offers so many different characteristics depending on the tree and the fabrication methods, either plywood or massive soft or hard wood.
It can be used to develop a prototype and the actual product can be made of it. The most intriguing aspect of wood is that we use it mostly geometrically, but it is an organic material.
This becomes obvious as the wood changes its size and form due to the moisture that can deform the wood. The organic structures oppose the geometrical way it is used in beams or furniture. This is one of the aspects I am reflecting with my ‘Happy Tree Friend’.
But of course I also use it ‘traditionally’. I use a lot of wood. Actually I shold plant as much wood as I am using. The it would become obvious how much one is using.

Q: How to interpret the relation between functionality and formality?

Actually the balance between form und functionality is totally arbitrary.
Every design mevements uses certain elements of style. Also designers that apply the rule “form follows function” are no exception.
Simple forms are style elements themselves and show no actual relation between form and function (Attention! I am not judging it!). There are no overall rules for design.This gives every designer the freedom to do what they do. I developed my own view on design. My handwriting and my ideas fill in the gap between form and function.
And so does every designer in my opinion.

Q: How do you integrate low-carbon life concept with design?

I wish I would be able to reduce my carbon foot print. Let me give one example.
I buy my materials here in local shops but the wood has been transported and machined with engines that use electricity or fossil energy sources. This is only one example where my carbon foot print is inevitably left. I am afraid I cannot avoid it but I can reflect this consciously in my designs. My ‘wheel-lamp’ fits in here pretty well. It is a pre apocalyptic light object that I made with the means I have now made for a time where there won’t exist external energy sources.

Q: What kind of qualities does a designer must have?

Be friendly, be curious. I am not always but I appreciate to be reminded. I think it is always enriching if the inspiration for design does not come from design. Design will be more interesting if the designer is inspired by sports, technique, culture, music, nature…
Everything can be a great inspiration for design, if the designer knows ow to translae it into an object. A designer also needs a lot of perseverance.

Q: How do you think of the future development of industry design?

I believe that smaller independent designers and design labels will increasingly play a bigger role in industry. This may also have positive impact on the low-carbon-life issue. Because numerous but yet smaller design-labels with a smaller range of distribution might increase the focus on regional production and make global trade less relevant. Generally the consciousness about the finite fossil energy sources has to force us into another direction sooner or later.

Q: Is there any interesting thing in design process to share us?

The bicycle is a great product. Riding BMX for years has made me analyze and over analyze each part of my bike. This has also been a technical inspiration for me.

Q: Can you simply describe your day?

For example, a typical day can look like this. I buy or organize the materials I need for the day in the morning. I plan the major steps for the day. Eventually I meet people in order to brainstorm or discuss projects. I do some calls and check e-mails. Then I drive to my workshop and can finally work on my products. But it is also important to save yourself some free time. Free time is the time in which a lot can happen in your mind which helps reconsider decisions you are about to make.

Q: What’s the most important thing in your life? What’s your expectation for the future?

A: I cannot put it into on word. And I can say it only for myself. You will always meet people that say to you are not able to fulfill your ideas and plans. Of course you should take every criticism into consideration but at a certain point you have to believe in what you do and prove them wrong. Then people start believe in you. I hope can make more great products and projects. I am also looking forward to collaborations. I want to learn more.