And when do you want to hold your next exhibition? MDLS : We have not done an exhibition yet, we are however planning to put together one. We will publish our first book next year and after that, work on exhibiting the works featured in the book. We are also thinking of including my sculptures in the exhibition, as part of more cohesive creative forces that work as a total solution for projects of any scale, from urban planning to industrial products.
FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations? The early Latin comedy writers Plauto, Ennio and Terenzio were taking large portions of their inspiration from the Greek authors that had a great presence in the Mediterranean cultures. Instead of creating entirely original plots, they took scripts from Greek comedies and contaminated them with Latin bits of culture or at times, did the opposite by contaminating traditional Latin stories with Greek scenes and sketches — a brilliant way to greatly enhance creativity and be far more productive.
When Callimacus wrote his version of the story of the Argonauts, he proudly pronounced that he was imitating Apollonius Rodio not to subtly copy him, but to openly challenge his book Not ut lateat sed ut pateat imitatio. We just need to take great ideas and redraw them in concrete. We have at our disposal the entire knowledge of mankind when we need to draw inspiration, and if that does not suffice the best designer of all, Mother Nature can surely come to our aid.
The very framework that allows our universe to exist is an amazing place for discovery. Physics, Geometry and Mathematics, they all offer insights in our physical world and the mechanics that are underlying its existence.
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They offer so much inspiration on how to forge volumes, the massing of three-dimensional constructs and objects, and receive and withstand the forces of nature while evoking beauty and awe. FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style?
What's your approach to design? MDLS : I like to think of myself as a futurist. I need to believe that I can push the envelope of contemporary aesthetic beyond the comfort boundaries into new territories. My approach to design is simplicity, like in mathematical formulas where their elegance and power often is a reflection of their disarming simplicity. It is rather satisfying to forge volumetric composition, to bend the low of gravity along simple yet powerful geometries. FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs?
What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country? My cultural roots have definitely affected what I am today and I am proud to believe so. Just walking around the streets of Rome you are continuously immersed in such an inspiring environment that aesthetically sensitive characters cannot avoid grooming an artistic side. Both the classical elements and contemporary ideas of the Italian artistic and design scene are continuously engaging us on a multitude of levels and give an endless fuel for the sustenance of cultural discourse.
Moving to Singapore has definitely provided me the opportunity to test and employ my creative abilities more than I would have done in Italy. Unfortunately, in my own country, less is built than in the developing areas of the world. Additionally, the Italian social scene is naturally very antagonistic, people tend to always be destructive and never supportive with the work of others.
Individuality is rampant and there is not much belief in team work. Probably the same reason that historically created such a conducive environment for the nourishment of creativity and the artistic mind is also the reason why it is so difficult today to make things happen in a such beautiful country. FS: How do you work with companies? They each have a very profound difference in approaching the planning and construction of a building, since the first group uses the buildings as the primary source of their income, while for the second group, buildings are just a place from where to operate and conduct their business, and are normally not their primary source of income.
Developers, on the other hand, probably because they make of building a primary business, have always much to say of every aspect of the building process. Often, it is because they believe that they can do a better job than us — a belief that is in most of the case just a fantasy, but unfortunately a fantasy we need to respect them for since they are the clients. Working with developers is often a difficult experience and requires plenty of dedication and patience, but it is a necessary evil as a large portion of the industry is made by their investments.
It is exactly because of their arrogance in providing the industry with products that are developed more to suit their wallet, rather than to benefit the society and people, that we need to keep making an effort to balance the greed with the necessity of a better environment. This can be done with clever and ingenious design, one that satisfies the need of the greedy, but also respects the canon of the necessary beauty.
FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer? MDLS : It might appear obvious on how to structure a selection process for a good designer but it is not as simple as it might seem especially because many companies are not looking for a good designer in the first place. The most important question is if these companies want to work with a good designer or not.
I have seen many companies or individuals that hire designers to tell them how to do their work. That is, in its definition, a badly-posed proposition. If you want to tell a designer what to do and how to do it, you might as well design it yourself. If you have a good or great designer working for you, let them freely unleash their creativity and be amazed at what they can achieve.
What matters is to give a clear brief on what the final product is expected to achieve, and leave the rest to the creative mind to work out. Once this is established, the actual selection of the proper candidate for the creative work is simpler and fundamentally relies on the stylistic approach that is required for the project. You need to match the two styles, if you need a cutting-edge design for a certain project you need a cutting-edge designer for it.source site
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FS: Can you talk a little about your design process? Within this unit, I keep the most creative people. We have devised a concept design process that is structured in a few phases. I am normally fully engaged in the first phase, where the basic idea is conceived.
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Here, we follow a few steps: firstly I work on the guiding principles that are supposed to keep the entire design together, which normally consist of identifying the purpose that can often have a very focused commercial perspective. Once the purpose has been clearly defined, I then move to express it into a hypothesis with a volumetric solution, where the spatial experience is the primary guiding element both from the perspective of the user, and the onlooker — basically the way the space is viewed from the inside and outs.
The second phase of our conceptualisation commences once I pass this cohesive set of ideas to the design director, who then elaborates it further into a documented concept, which with the help of our think tank team, gets visualised and properly drafted. Once the concept has been finalised and eventually approved by the client, we then move the design development to a project team that carries out the duties of seeing it to completion. Obviously, our think tank unit continues to supervise the development of the project to the end, to ensure the consistency and adherence of the completed work to the original design intent.
FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home? The two Ernesto Gismondi Miconos lamps that I switch off in amazement every night when I go to sleep, and finally, my own coffee table, the first thing I actually designed. FS: Can you describe a day in your life? I have always envied those who start the day at 6am, go to the gym, and are at work by 8am. I have tried the regime but it does not work for me. I am more of a nocturnal animal. After the lengthy process of awakening my brain function, I try to hit the gym when I have time as the blood pumping does make the day more productive.
The working day unfortunately is more about project and human resources management, than sitting at the drafting table spinning ideas on tracing paper. I wish I could always be doing that but our job is largely about facilitating projects rather than actually designing them. FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers? MDLS : Embarking on the journey of being a professional designer is a courageous choice and often, people that choose this path are not aware of it.
As good design is not measurable, it is very difficult for good designers to prove themselves and they will find many obstacles along the way. They will need to pack a lot of resolution and confidence if they want to have a real chance to succeed on this journey. At the same time, they need to learn about balance and strategic thinking as managing clients and people expectation in general is a crafty skill that requires patience and long-term views.
Sometimes, we need to follow the more Machiavellian way rather than the heroic one, as at times only a compromise might lead to a long-term victory.
Probably the most difficult moments of my career have been when I had to choose between design integrity and a commercial solution. At times, clients do not understand design well enough.
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That is a difficult position to deal with and it does not come with an obvious suggestion. Compromising the design might lead to signing a project that is substandard by your measure, but not signing it might lead you to lose the project and have financial issues. It feels a bit like a Zen story but the gist of it is that this path needs lots of strength and patience. If you are looking for immediate satisfaction, it might not be the best path for you. But it can, on the long run, bring a great sense of accomplishment with the feeling of having really made your contribution to mankind and its betterment.
FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer? MDLS : The good side of being a designer is the great sense of accomplishment it can bring and the feeling of making your contribution. The negative side finds their roots in the issues I have discussed earlier on. It is also a career that usually underperforms in comparison with other professions, especially if you weigh the amount of effort you need to do to obtain tangible results. On the other hand, the satisfaction you can harvest from it are greater than what you find in other industries and that kind of composes the overall balance.
FS: What is your "golden rule" in design? MDLS : The beginning of a journey should be setting its destination, or at least a direction, otherwise we end up not going anywhere. I believe the destination for a design project is its own meaning, its symbology. Significance confers to any work we do an overall indication of its formal solution; formality becomes a semantic connection with symbology.
When a design solution becomes a vessel of an idea, its strength as a solution multiplies enormously and it affirms itself, proving its validity. Not only, this process of binding significance to a design often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way that the significance itself is bound to a certain ineluctable solution.