Interview with Alessandra D'Alessio & Alyssa Vani

Winner of Toy Design Awards

Award Winning Designer Alessandra D'Alessio & Alyssa Vani shares insights


Interview with Alessandra D'Alessio & Alyssa Vani at Wednesday 26th of October 2016:

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
AV : Alessandra: Visual arts is my greatest passion, it has always played such a defining role in my life and has had such an incredible impact on me as a person. My favourite hobby growing up was drawing and continues to be today. I am now currently studying Interior Design at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada and am in my third year of studies. Alyssa: When I was younger I did not always envision myself in a career with design. I have always had a love and talent for it, but it was not until my later high school years that I decided to pursue it. Currently, I am enrolled in my third year at Ryerson University studying interior design and I could not be happier with my choice. I feel like I am doing exactly what I should be, drawing, designing, and creating graphics, while constantly finding new ways to be inspired.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
AV : Alessandra: Throughout my childhood I experimented with painting, sewing and countless other mediums to express my creativity. Choosing an undergraduate degree that would lead me to a design related career was an easy choice, as it was something I always knew I would pursue. I became a designer because it is something I have always wanted to become. Alyssa: I've always had a love for interior design. I would always find myself watching the W Network and HGTV shows, eagerly waiting to see the final transformations. Working with my hands is one of my favourite things to do, whether it be sketching, physically making models, or anything computer related. Being an interior design student has allowed me to broaden my horizons and work on many projects using a variety of mediums to express my designs.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
AV : Alessandra: I design a variety of things, especially now that I am Studying at the Ryerson School of Interior Design, which has allowed me to try out woodworking, advanced model making and 3d computer modeling as well. Mainly I design interiors for school, in addition to wood, or laser cut models that have to do with special relationships, overall concepts and the interaction of different materials. I wish to design more products, such as the braille blocks. I have become more and more interested in product design since I began my studies at Ryerson and hope to pursue the product design feel after my undergraduate degree. Alyssa: As an interior design student, the majority of my designs are of the interiors and exteriors of spaces. These designs include a wide range of things such as floor plans, sections, 3D renderings and models. In addition to this I have designed some products including a light modulator and Braille Blocks, as well as some posters for graphic design. I wish to design more products as well as some furniture as I have a strong interest for them both and believe that it would provide me with more experience and insight in the ever-growing design field.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
AV : Alyssa: My best advice for young designers would be to stick with it. Find what inspires you and try to work that into your designs in order to keep yourself motivated and interested. Concentrate and put loads of time into it. When you throw all your time into a design, you want it to be the best it could possibly be, causing you to produce some fantastic work.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
AV : Alessandra: Anyone has the potential to go from being a good designer to a great designer. You must be dedicated to your work and love the project! If you are passionate about your work it will speak for itself. Put your heart into it and revise it as many times as necessary. Be dedicated to it and put in the time that it requires. No great project is an easy one, and no great project has a quick solution. Your proudest creations will take the longest to create.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
AV : Alyssa: I believe that a good design is a well thought out design. The concept is the most important stage in any design project. Figuring out what the design is intended to do, who it is intended for, and all the problems that could be associated with it, is the best way to start. Once a design's thought process has been broken down, the design concept can then begin to grow, as solutions arise and ideas flow. In order to evaluate if a design is "good", the main things to look at would be: Does it do what it is intended to? Does it cater to the right target market? Was it executed in the most efficient way? Any design that can say yes to all of these points would be considered good design to me,

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
AV : Alessandra: My secret recipe for success in design is definitely my left hand. My ability to draw has helped me communicate my ideas in every project I have ever created. Sketching out the project countless times is what helps me work through design complications. Drawing out the project in stages and understanding how each piece will work with another to create something. Sketching out the game plan has always been my secret weapon.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
AV : Alessandra: I always wanted to pursue a career in the design field and truly do not know what I would be doing if I did not go to Ryerson and find the creative, design program that I am currently in now. Alyssa: If I hadn't become a designer, by back-up career would have been something in mathematics or even a teacher. Ideally a teacher in the creative subjects would have been the best choice. Thankfully, I made the right choice pursing the career path that I did, as I could not see myself doing anything else.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?
AV : Alessandra: Design is everything! It has no limitations. Every aspect of our lives has been designed by someone and that is what I find so inspiring about the field. It is endless and it is universal. Design is its own language. Alyssa: I have to agree with Alessandra here. Design is endless. Limitations do not exist as the number of possibilities are constantly growing more and more as the world evolves.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
AV : Alessandra:My biggest supporters are my parents. They have always encouraged my artistic dreams and have helped me along the way. They bought me every art supply in the world. Thank you Mom and Dad for providing me with the most extensive art supply collection, I love it. Alyssa: My biggest supporters would definitely have to be my family, especially my parents. Through every late night and minor panic attack, my parents were by my side asking how they could help. Allowing me to participate in every great opportunity that has come my way has allowed me to evolve into the designer that I am today and I could never thank them enough for it.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?
AV : Alessandra: My ultimate goal, I don’t even know where to begin. The goal is to create amazing things always. I want to start my own firm that focuses on a variety of design projects.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?
AV : Alyssa: The presentation of designs will always vary depending on what the design is. I am a huge supporter of graphics when it comes to explaining a design and how it works. As a visual person, I enjoy being able to see the design and it's concept first hand. For others who may not be used to understanding projects like other designers would, it helps to have graphics that break down the concept with diagrams that illustrate the process.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?
AV : Alessandra: Any design project of mine begins in my notebook as a basic sketch. I work through my ideas on paper with words and a variety of drawings, which always help me come up with solutions and ways to move forward. Alyssa: The first thing I do is sketch out my ideas, whether it be something quick or a drawing roughly to scale. I am a huge fan of computers and the graphics that can be created with them, but I will always be a physical person. I need to have a paper copy that I can touch, manipulate, and scribble my ideas all over.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?
AV : Alessandra: I have a few life mottos as a designer. These are words that I live by: 1. Don’t go to bed until you have worked it out, or until it is done. I am never the person that takes a break or goes to sleep if they are stuck. I always stay up to do the work; this does not work for everyone, but it has always worked for me. 2. Let the project take over your life. Any great design project will require an extremely large portion of your time. It will inevitably take over your life with all the work it will require, so embrace the crazy and let it take over. 3. Never get your heart set on your first design. Revise it three times before you fall in love with it. Anything I have ever created has always turned out better because I took the time to revise it. The first draft is never the end result. 4. Believe in your work, develop a thick skin. Have confidence in what you have made, it is a reflection of who you are. Some people may not appreciate your work, that's normal. 5. Love it or you will hate it. Love the project you are working on, otherwise you will not be proud of the outcome. Spend the time making something you will be proud of.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
AV : Alessandra: Design sets the trends. Always

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?
AV : Alyssa: When I design, I always try to involve technology when it comes to my final drafts. There are so many programs these days that allow you to do things that you would never think of with just a pen on paper.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
AV : Alessandra: I always switch between the following programs to make diagrams, plans, 3d models or computer models. AutoCAD, Rhino, Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign. However, pen and paper are just as important. Alyssa: Some of the programs I use are AutoCAD, Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat), Rhino with VRay, and SketchUp.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
AV : Alessandra: Practice! I spent my entire childhood drawing pictures. Strong skills take years to perfect. Drawings is something you need to work at, it requires dedication and a love for it.

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
AV : Alessandra & Alyssa: We are overjoyed and grateful. We are so happy to be recognized for a project that we absolutely love.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
AV : Alessandra: Favourite colour: Red Favourite season: Summer. Alyssa: My favourite colour would have to be navy blue. I dream to travel to Greece and my favourite season is Fall.

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
AV : Alessandra: I cannot tell you how many times I have cried over projects when I was stuck. This is a common event, which is quite funny to think about looking back. Alyssa: Late nights in the design studio at school will always be something that I'll remember. When everyone is stressed, tired and brains/eyes feel like mush from staring at a screen for too long, the funniest things can happen.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
AV : Alyssa: My main motivator is my excitement for my current projects. When I love what I am designing, I see myself always finding a way and time to work on it. I also love looking for inspiration on sites such as Pinterest in order to give myself that extra boost.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
AV : Alessandra: As a child, it was obvious that I would pursue design. I always hoped it would continue to be such a relevant part of my life and who I would become.