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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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