Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Ana Maria Gonzalez Londono ("AMGL") 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.
AMGL : I studied design in Colombia at Universidad de Los Andes. I was lucky to find a program that allowed me to explore design from different perspectives, it was just “Design”, with no “second” name as it is common, says fashion, industrial, graphic design; it was design of a bit of everything with a strong strategic direction. Although I focused on product, I also had the chance to explore more graphic aspects like illustration, now a hobby I enjoy, and other aspects like strategy and business design. In fact, after graduation I have also explored the different focuses professionally, but keeping as a constant the enjoyment of craft and handmade things. As a way to continue to go more in-depth on this passion I recently started a Master in Product Design in Italy at the Politecnico di Milano.
AMGL : I was always the creative type since a young age. My decision to focus on design as a career was further influenced by my high school days when I moved from Colombia to the US. Here I took an AP 3D art class where I had the opportunity to encounter a very inspiring professor and peers, the detailed requirements of this advanced class, like having to build a portfolio, helped me to understand art/design as a valuable and structured discipline and helped me discover I enjoyed the process of making things with my own hands, going beyond 2D representations which is what I was used to. I think in general what motivates me to design is a constant desire to create and materialize ideas inspired by the things that happen around me.
AMGL : Few people are forced to be designers, for sure I wasn’t. I believe in fact there was an unspoken insecurity in my house about my decision at first.
AMGL : I design in many areas, I enjoy the diverse directions of design and don't want to particularly limit myself on this since I think it also provides cohesiveness to projects, but what I am most interested on at the moment is home products. I would love to do more product design that is craft oriented, hopefully rescuing artisanal knowledge from traditional communities from my country Colombia, and why not of around the world. I have also been interested on the field of positive psychology so emotional/mindful design is something I want to explore more.
AMGL : I think dedication and compromise are a powerful drive that in the ends is made visible through good work. This is also only possible when you really enjoy what you do.
AMGL : Great designs are integral in every aspect and add new layers of meaning beyond the evident.
AMGL : I believe sense making is important to judge whether a design is good or bad. Regardless, I think every good design has some sort of “wow” factor that leads people to stop and take a closer to look, be it because of interesting targets, functionalities, simplicities, or even just innovative aesthetics and feelings. I think the wow is an “emotional” effect of design.
AMGL : I am firm believer of the power of design to influence our daily lives, our feelings and sensations. Objects can have a big impact on how we live situations and can become conversation starters and also become representations of our personality. There is meaning behind what and why we own things and good design helps make those meanings more visible.
AMGL : If I had the opportunity I would love to design for some dream companies like Poltrona Frau, Alessi or Rosenthal
AMGL : I am not sure a have dream project right now just a million ideas that keep coming I would like to have to more free time to organize and focus on some of these. One example is to continue to develop the project I did for my bachelor theses, related to illustration and mindfulness.
AMGL : Love of learning, dedication and high standards to push yourself to improve and go beyond.
AMGL : Cultivate a love for learning, learn to observe and be critical of the world that surrounds you and yourself and your works.
AMGL : I always wonder, perhaps I would have gone into art. But I have many different interests I have discovered along the years, like psychology and also business oriented disciplines, but i wouldn't have known at the time.
AMGL : I believe design is about building connections and reinterpreting the world. It is a permanent lens that allows to see life through a constantly adapting vision based on the environments you are exposed to, and different social-cultural contexts and needs, hopefully with the purpose of improving how things exist and people’s interaction with them.
AMGL : My family, in particular my mom, she is my biggest fan. I have also been lucky to come across wonderful professors along the way that have really inspired and motivated me.
AMGL : I think a great part I owe to the fact that I have moved a lot since childhood. Change gives you the capacity to see things from different perspectives, connect experiences, adapt, learn about yourself, it drives curiosity and brings you to meet lots of interesting and inspiring people and contexts. In the end, everything we make is a reflection of our experiences and visions of the world.
AMGL : There is always more you can learn and space for improvement so sometimes you become your own obstacles by creating lots of doubts. Doubts can come from the outside as well, specially because design isn't yet so well appreciated and recognized as something worth investing in.
AMGL : When possible I think its important to present work in tangible ways even at prototype stage. Today it is easier to present highly realistic digital versions of concepts but the materialization of a design can enhance and exalt its properties and capabilities as well as prove assumptions. I guess it depends on the context you are presenting it and degree of definition.
AMGL : I want to focus more on home/interior product and explore crafts and artisanal knowledge from traditional communities, for instance from my country, Colombia.
AMGL : I would like to inspire people and make more evident the potential of design disciplines. Perhaps develop my personal brand or company one day.
AMGL : This is just my first price with a design I have been working on for some years now, so the expectations are set on what will come next, what I will continue to make.
AMGL : I think the vision of a designer can pollinate other more rigid worlds with new outlooks with a reduced fear of innovation and uncertainty.
AMGL : The Innato Tableware Set for sure has a more special place since it was my first personal, in-depth exploration and it got to be recognized with the Bronze A’ Design Award, but in general I think the ones on which I'm involved in the making of final results give me the most satisfaction. I love being in the workshop, making prototypes, etc. Getting your hands dirty increases the satisfaction in the end.
AMGL : I would like to see more spaces for new talents and independent designers and a stronger connection between large companies, designers and communities.
AMGL : I believe design is gaining a key position in life and a greater understanding of what it is by the general public and institutions. Through this pandemic we have seen design gain a very important position for example, because design allows space to think quick, adapt, explore, go into the future and respond to context needs. The profile of what a designer is is changing and expanding beyond the enclosed artist like perspective to a more down-to-earth-visionary type with value for society. Somewhat a contradiction, but I believe this profile of a holistic strategist will drive the profession forward.
AMGL : It really depends on the kind of project and definition.
AMGL : I always begin by doing preliminary inspiration research, contextual understanding and defining the brief.
AMGL : “Build connections”
AMGL : It’s a reciprocal relationship, trends provide a context and can help you visualize what is coming in a way that makes sense. If you push the limits of a what a design is within a trend you might possibly end up developing a new trend.
AMGL : I have a hard time connecting with hard tech and very digital products but for this same reason I think its important to understand how to use them not as something that drives away from the materiality of design but as a medium to enhance and exalt its properties and capabilities.
AMGL : Mostly photoshop, Illustrator, and Rhinoceros. And my Mac and Wacom tablet.
AMGL : Their main role is about aesthetics, perceptions, sensibility and emotional connections. They can also enhance experience and comfort and communicate product features.
AMGL : I would like feedback before questions :) The “how did you make it?” question is always interesting to reply because it evidences the backstage process, time and thought behind the making of something.
AMGL : Most of the times I will wonder how was it made. It helps reason, reflect and be critical of the decisions made to reach to a final design and the real purpose.
AMGL : Co-design is very valuable, it helps drive expertise and ideas from different fields and the user itself to potentialize designs. Others, from their own experiences, might see what we might not.
AMGL : I wouldn't point to anyone in particular, I think its more about the contexts and social dynamics that we are exposed to in our daily lives, be it family, professors, colleagues, friends, etc.
AMGL : Im very into positive psychology and creativity books that I think influence me on a personal level and on the way I face design processes and perhaps also the topics for my designs. To name a few: Flow, the Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, In praise of Slow by Carl Honorè, A Curious Mind by Brain Grazer, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, Living with complexity by Donald Norman.
AMGL : Still working on that. But I try to stay active and curious by finding new opportunities to learn, practice and improve.
AMGL : People who have knowledge of traditional crafts, ancient pottery workers topping the list.
AMGL : The Bronze A’ Design Award if my first one in the field so I'm still a long way from fame. I feel very honored and proud of course, and motivated to continue to grow.
AMGL : Colors: Red Wine color (vino tinto) and Military green. Place: many remote, very autochthonous locations in Colombia, or any place with lots of nature. Food: pizza & chocolate. Season: No seasons or summer. Thing: my sleeping robe, Brand: not a brand person.
AMGL : Im not very chatty so this is funnier for people who know me, but I used to drink coffee with the workshop owner where I produced my ceramics. Like we say in Colombia “tomar tintico” and gossip about life and work with this old man as a young person is not a common sight but a very enriching one.
AMGL : When ideas or solutions suddenly come to you or are flowing easily. When you work in a “flow” state and get deep into work without even feeling it. I motivate my self by setting small manageable tasks I can gradually accomplish. Being outside or close to sunny spots also has great impact on my motivation levels.
AMGL : Looking back I think it was. You start seeing it in school when you become the designated artists and you enjoy art class above all, and then you start doodling all the time.
AMGL : At the moment we are living it is hard to imagine futures, anything is possible and 1000 years too much! I would like a back to basics kind of future where human connection and nature are the main thing, I totally hope technology does not dominate and is just a smooth background support of human activity.
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