Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Patrizia Donà ("PD") 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?

PD : Patrizia Donà is a successor of the long family tradition originating from the island of Murano, Venice. During her childhood, she used to spend many summers in a family manufacture, helping putting together crystal parts of Venetian chandeliers, whose production is a unique and unsurpassed process. Patrizia's father, a born Venetian from Murano, worked as a craftsman in Zagreb, where he moved for love to Patrizia's mother. His metal work was much appreciated and people used to say he had mani d'oro (golden hands). So Patrizia grew up surrounded by lavorazioni artigianali, artisanal work, in an atmosphere where striving for perfection and continuous improvement came to her naturally. Later in life, Patrizia Donà graduated from the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Philosophy, Department of Art History and Ethnology. Soon after, she moved to Rotterdam where she studied Fashion Design at the Willem de Kooning Academy. She graduated Cum Laude in 2006 whereby her final collection “Souvenirs d'Enfance – La Manufacture des Automates” was nominated for Drempelprijs Academy Award. Among her first working experiences was the one for A.F. Vandervorst in Antwerp, for whom she also worked as a stylist at fashion shows in Paris. In 2012, Patrizia started her own label Laboratio Donà (later renamed Donà), which soon gained attention and appraisal for the “Hommage a Remington” bags, inspired by a famous typewriter.

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

PD : I remember being a child, I had an impulse to demolish goods (chairs, lamps, clothes, toys) that I found not properly aesthetically made and I put the pieces back together in a way I thought they had to be done.

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

PD : I was not forced nor I chose to be a designer….it came naturally, like a predestined path.

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

PD : My creations are a confluence of visual art and design, and all of my fashion projects are also research and experiments as well as being suitable for production in smaller or larger series of wearable objects and accessories.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?

PD : To work hard, believe in yourself, be passionate, be consistent and never compromise no matter what

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

PD : I think the difference between good designer and a great designer is like difference between job vs. vocation. A good designer provides accurate design with overall good quality whereas a great designer is fully “IN”. It is fascinating how the great designers, like the Eames, are obsessed with the details…they had been working over the course of 6 years refining the foot/glide on their now-classic upholstered wire chair!

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?

PD : Craftsmanship, heritage, innovation and sustainability

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?

PD : My stubbornness and desire to see the final product is bigger than all the obstacles I will likely face during the designing process…I never give up

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

PD : I found for myself that there are 2 paths in one’s life - the inner path and the external path. The inner path is to discover who we are, our true nature, that we are all equal because we come from the same source. The external path is to discover what is your unique gift and to nourish it, cultivate and extend it to the fullest potential. My external path is design.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?

PD : I will reveal my secret. My biggest dream is to design a collection dedicated to Olivetti. Few years ago I came across Negozio Olivetti (Olivetti showroom) in Venice. It was a love at the first sight. In that small place is condensed everything I admire in design: every detail speaks, while mixture of colors, materials, and forms creates a visual symphony. I want to do a project that will show my deepest appreciation for the work of two masters: Adriano Olivetti and Carlo Scarpa.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?

PD : I am afraid we cannot stop the turning wheel of quick-consumption culture and mass production. I would like to see more meaningful and durable design, the revitalization of handcraft. Respect and integration of old traditional technics in contemporary language of modern technology, something that Hella Jongerius does in her projects.

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

PD : To finalize a certain project means sometimes working for years on it. Doing researches, testing how a certain material behaves in a long term (after many years of use) and making constant improvement.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

PD : I strive for excellence. I always want my next project to be an inch better than a previous one.

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

PD : I think that nowadays trends set a design and that makes me sad. It should be the opposite. It is designer’s duty and responsibility to communicate the true values and educate the society what a good quality design is and why one should buy it. In that way designers improve the quality of life of society.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?

PD : I have never co-worked with other designers. I am the “one woman show” which means that I am involved in all aspects within a project. I direct and design everything: the product (bag), graphic design, packaging, presentation… and I often use my self even as a model. I do co-working with various artisans. Without their meticulously handwork my design would not be that great.

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

PD : I was an introvert in my teenage years and I used to spend most of the time by myself reading bunch of books. I am still in love with literature, next to the books on design and art, I reed writers like: F.M. Dostoevsky, O. Fallaci, M. Duras…One of my collections, “Qwerty Limited” is inspired and dedicated to American poet E.E. Cummings. I made typewriter keys with fragments from his poetry and inserted them into a perforated front layer of the bag that evokes the keyboard layout.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?

PD : Midnight blue, Murano, all kind of fruits, spring, silk pantyhose from ‘50s, Loewe

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?

PD : I would say I have a cultivated eye and an innate impeccable taste. I remember in my childhood mother and I would go shopping in Venice. I usually stopped in a front of a display widow of a luxury store showing with the finger-this is what I want. My mother tried to explain that the doll or the dress was too expensive but I stubbornly insisted until she gave up. Nothing else and nothing less would not have satisfied me.


Qwerty Elemental Handbags

Qwerty Elemental Handbags by Patrizia Donà

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