LEGENDARY INTERVIEW

Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Monica Oddone ("MO") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?

MO : I started my artistic and creative career in high school, attending Art School with a "designer of architecture and furniture" curriculum. Unfortunately, in Italy, this kind of school no longer exists, but the training I received in this context was fundamental to lay the foundations of my work as a designer. Every day, I was in contact with drawing (strictly by hand, at that time), art history, modelling, wood and metal workshops, discovering from the beginning the relationship between design and know-how. I pursued my path by graduating in Industrial Design and in Eco Design at the Politecnico di Torino, acquiring the necessary skills to deal professionally with the job world.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?

MO : I decided to become a designer to "change things, starting from things". I believe that a large part of our life quality depends on the objects and services that surround us, giving them the ability to influence our well-being. I am convinced that designers have a social responsibility towards people and the environment, so I always try to focus on them in my projects.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?

MO : Becoming a designer was a fairly natural choice, due to my studies and the presence, in my family, of other creative professionals who immediately made me appreciate this kind of work.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?

MO : I am a versatile designer, by choice and nature. I have never wanted to devote myself to a single specific sector because I believe that the possibility of dealing with various topics is a more stimulating and enriching experience, which gives value to different projects thanks to contamination and technology transfer. Personally, I prefer designing physical objects, products not only industrial, but also linked to the artisan dimension and limited editions. I will never get tired of designing objects that question standards and stereotypes, with the aim of giving something more, in terms of experience, using something less, in terms of resources.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?

MO : A good designer is someone who designs to meet needs, balancing form and function, and guaranteeing results in line with the client objectives. A great designer is someone who does the same thing, with personality and strong critical spirit, driven by curiosity and in constant search for added value.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?

MO : I really admire all those objects that can suggest new uses and new approaches in an extremely simple and intuitive way. Knowing firsthand the difficulty encountered in the ideation process, I appreciate solutions that make synthesis and self-explanation their strong point. For example, I really like the Japanese studio Nendo because it has a design approach that manages to give great value even to everyday objects that we usually consider trivial.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?

MO : I don't think there is an universal rule, but given the nature of the designer work, it is important to never stop designing and "learning by doing". Each project is unique and when you tackle different themes it is always like the first time. You have to be disciplined, meticulous and try to work with an open mind, leaving yourself different paths to explore and the opportunity to always learn something new.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?

MO : It's hard for me to imagine doing another job, but I probably would have just applied my creative side to some other areas. I am very fascinated by the didactic and education field, I find very important the role of those who nurture and encourage other people's creativity.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?

MO : For me, design is the tool we have to create everything we need to improve the quality of our lives. That's why design should produce objects that are honest, empathetic and respectful of people and the environment.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?

MO : Designers should always present their work at its best. There are no methods or tools to privilege, because the goal is to be able to effectively communicate one's design vision, enhancing strengths and what distinguishes us from the others. Being unique as people and professionals guarantees an infinite range of possibilities.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?

MO : My ultimate goal is to be able to design honest and empathic products that can enter into the daily life of many people, helping them in their work or simply in their everyday activities.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

MO : Design underlies most of the products and services we use on a daily basis, influencing our relationship with them, our actions and our perception of effectiveness, safety and reliability. It often happens to find complex products, designed more for the interests of those who produce them than those who buy and use them. Design can create a better society by shifting its focus, becoming more sensitive and attentive to real needs, freeing itself of superstructures and the superfluous, accompanying each of us in everyday life.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?

MO : The MinMax foldable bicycle project was certainly the most complex to manage because it tested me from different points of view, allowing me to explore every single aspect of it. So far it has been the most rewarding, and not only for the prizes it has received.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?

MO : The development time of a project depends on several factors such as its complexity, the degree of definition required and the constraints. Usually, for the definition of a concept starting from the research and analysis of the context up to the development of the first forms, it can take from 2 to 4 weeks. For more elaborate projects that require detailed technical drawings, 3D modeling and rendering, it can take from 2 to 6 months.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?

MO : The first step is always research. Depending on the topic, it may be interesting to analyze the anthropological and historical aspects of re-design objects or to evaluate data and regulations related to the specific context. Very often, it is useful to make a benchmarking analysis of competitors' products to identify their strengths and weaknesses. It is essential to be informed about all possible aspects that influence the product in order to be more aware of the consequent design choices. When you are sufficiently prepared on the subject, then you can grab the pencil.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?

MO : I'd like to say that design sets the trends, but I'm afraid it's the other way around. I find it a paradoxical situation because this generates a lot of identical objects, where the top-quality ones are confused among the bad copies with little value. I believe that a design that seeks diversity and quality can become the basis of virtuous market trends.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?

MO : I have always thought that colour and material are not an additional aspect to the project, linked only to the aesthetic dimension, but that they are fully part of it. In many cases, the design theme starts from a single material with the aim of enhancing it, exalting its physical-chemical characteristics, looking for new applications and giving it an identity. In the same way, colour is not just a refinement, but a very powerful means of communication that must be motivated and integrated into the project.

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?

MO : Every book we read influences the way we design, even those not strictly related to design, like essays and novels, because they force us to visualize different worlds in our minds, studded with imaginary objects that we try to shape. But I can mention three books that all designers should read: "Da cosa nasce cosa" by Bruno Munari, "The Design of Everyday Things" by Donald A. Norman and "The Laws of Simplicity" by John Maeda.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?

MO : When I work, my favorite days are when I learn something new during my research. Whether they are anecdotes, scientific principles or new information of any kind, it's nice to think of them as pieces of a puzzle that go together and build our identity as people and designers, every day.

LEGENDARY DESIGNER

INDUSTRIAL DESIGNER, GRADUATED WITH HONOURS IN ECODESIGN AT POLITECNICO DI TORINO, WHO BELIEVES IN DESIGN AS A NARRATIVE FORM THAT CONVEYS MESSAGES AND SHARED VALUES, CAPABLE OF CHALLENGE THE ROLE OF EVERYDAY OBJECTS. SHE RECEIVED SEVERAL AWARDS FROM INTERNATIONAL DESIGN COMPETITIONS AND SHE IS CURRENTLY INVOLVED IN DIFFERENT UNIVERSITY RESEARCH PROJECTS. FOR HER FREELANCE WORK, SHE IMAGINES HONEST AND EMPATHETIC PRODUCTS, RESPECTFUL OF MANKIND AND THE ENVIRONMENT, MADE IN ACCORDANCE OF BEST PRACTICE, TECHNOLOGIES AND DIGITAL DIMENSION. HER INTERESTS INCLUDE DESIGN FOR BOTH INDUSTRIAL AND ARTISANAL CONTEXT AND THE NEW EXPLORATION TOOLS GIVEN BY SELF-PRODUCTION AND CROWDSOURCING.


MinMax Folding Bicycle

MinMax Folding Bicycle by Monica Oddone

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