One of Italy’s successful contemporary designers, Odo Fioravanti graduates the Industrial Design Department of Milan Polytechnic. Since 2003 he’s been working mainly in the field of product design for the mass industries and develops projects for Foscarini, COOP, Normann Copenhagen, Segis, Pedrali, Toshiba, Casamania, Olivetti etc. Winner of multiple international awads, Fioravanti exhibits his works around the world and gets his inspiration from his writing and teaching careers. His design philosophy is based on the beauty of shapes and the attention to the detail which makes the products functional, desirable and democratic.
After all of those years of doing the job, what do you think is the best approach to design? Can you describe your working process?
I believe that the best approach is starting thinking deeply and slowly about the project. At the end is the opposite of a real method: it’s like taking nothing for granted. Every time I try to make my mind and give it a new shape, somehow. When my ideas are clear and “dry” usually I use some really simple sketches to focus on shapes, then I go back and forward from phisical draft models to sketches to 3D files, until I find the right shape for the idea. At that point I try to find the right way to tell this story to my clients. Transferring an idea from your mind to another person is always the most difficult thing, specially if you want to preserve the magic…
Apart from designing objects, do you engage in other activities in the field of design? Can you describe one of them?
I write a lot and teach in two universities in Milan (Politecnico di Milano and Domus Academy) and this is a fundamental part of my work because it helps me to put some order in my philosophy as a designer. Explaining your job, for example, pushes you to deeply understand yourself, what you do and what you think. Is like a mental trip in which you try to look back to what you did and find in all your work some common meanings, guidelines, directions. Teaching is also a way to stay in contact with young people that keeps you updated and strictly related with what’s going on in the society. It’s like looking trough a fantastic window on a definitely busy street.
What properties does a well designed object have?
I would say honesty. For many years we had on the market objects related to false messages, like tree dimensional lies. It was related to an idea of design objects like something that make things be expensive, unuseful, strange and coloured. This is what some marketing people made to the design field, but the crysis brought back an idea of design as a discipline that makes the everyday life’s objects be intelligent, beatiful, accessible to all, as cheap as possible. This is bringing back the idea of an honest approach to design, with a deep loyalty to final users.
What about the properties of a good designer?
Passion, a strong passion, is the starting point. Designers, most of the times are convincing people to make some idea become real and that effort need to be grounded in a really strong convinction and powered by a firm will. Second I would say patience, because design is also about waiting things to happen without getting tired or bored. A really large part of this work is about waiting for the companies to decide, prepare prototypes or moulds, put products on the market, or waiting o see if your products sell well. My tecnique is to put me always in a new project, so waiting is definitely different from sitting on a chair, but is putting myself in a new adventure…
What makes you tick? (What is your driving force?)
I think that I keep looking for Beauty, with a capital letter. Is what makes me happy and feel satisfied. Beauty is the only message I’m really interested in, and s the only message that doesn’t need any explanation. I keep using shapes as a language to bring beauty to people in the largest way I can. That’s why I prefer mass market products, to limited editions. Beauty is my driving force, and also my obsession…
Which part of our modern life do you think should be designed in a better way?
I think that transportation is still designed with an old approach. Moving our bodies from a place to another is going to be one of the key points of the future, and we can already see something changing bt most of the innovation is still to come.
What do you think the future will be like? How will design evolve?
My daughter, two years aged, just broke my glass ball, so I cant read the future anymore. Maybe she did it to remind me that she is the future and I’m just the past…
Interview by Maya Ivanova, published in issue 3/14