LEGENDARY INTERVIEW

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

AMGL : Great designs are integral in every aspect and add new layers of meaning beyond the evident.

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

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.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good 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.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?

AMGL : If I had the opportunity I would love to design for some dream companies like Poltrona Frau, Alessi or Rosenthal

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?

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.

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

AMGL : Love of learning, dedication and high standards to push yourself to improve and go beyond.

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

AMGL : Cultivate a love for learning, learn to observe and be critical of the world that surrounds you and yourself and your works.

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

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.

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

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.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?

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.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

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.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?

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.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

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.

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

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.

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

AMGL : I would like to see more spaces for new talents and independent designers and a stronger connection between large companies, designers and communities.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?

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.

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

AMGL : It really depends on the kind of project and definition.

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

AMGL : I always begin by doing preliminary inspiration research, contextual understanding and defining the brief.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

AMGL : “Build connections”

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

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.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?

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.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?

AMGL : Mostly photoshop, Illustrator, and Rhinoceros. And my Mac and Wacom tablet.

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

AMGL : Their main role is about aesthetics, perceptions, sensibility and emotional connections. They can also enhance experience and comfort and communicate product features.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?

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.

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?

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.

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

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.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?

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.

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

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.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?

AMGL : Still working on that. But I try to stay active and curious by finding new opportunities to learn, practice and improve.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?

AMGL : People who have knowledge of traditional crafts, ancient pottery workers topping the list.

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?

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.

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

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.

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?

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.

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

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.

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

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.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?

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.

LEGENDARY DESIGNER

ANA MARIA GONZALEZ IS AN ECLECTIC DESIGNER. WEAVING PAST LEARNINGS FROM A DIVERSE BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE WITH EVERYDAY RENEWED AWARENESS. SHE COMPLETED HER DESIGN STUDIES AT UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES IN COLOMBIA, WITH FOCUSED ON STRATEGY, INNOVATION AND PRODUCT DESIGN. CURRENTLY SHE IS A MSC. CANDIDATE AT POLITECNICO DI MILANO IN INTEGRATED PRODUCT DESIGN. ANA HAS DEVELOPED MY CAREER IN DIVERSE PROFESSIONAL FIELDS RANGING FROM THE FURNITURE INDUSTRY IN COLOMBIA, TO THE ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM IN NYC, AND THE ADVERTISING WORLD WHILE WORKING FOR CHEIL COLOMBIA, AND MOST RECENTLY SHE IMMERSED INTO YET ANOTHER FIELD: STRATEGIC AND INNOVATION CONSULTING. WITH AN OPEN MIND AND A BROAD PERSPECTIVE, SHE STRIVES TO BRING VALUE FROM THIS INTERACTION AMONG DISCIPLINES AND INTENTIONALLY APPLY HER KNOWLEDGE OF DESIGN THINKING AND HUMAN CENTERED DESIGN TO MAKE SENSE OF PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS. ANA IS A FIRM BELIEVER OF THE POWER OF DESIGN TO INFLUENCE OUR DAILY LIVES MAKING THE OBJECTS THAT SURROUND US A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO CREATE EVERYDAY UTOPIAS. ITS ABOUT GIVING PEOPLE A CHANCE TO FIND PLEASURE AND PERFECTION IN SMALL, EVERYDAY THINGS AND BRING THEM A FEELING OF PRIDE/SERENITY FOR THE LIFESTYLES THEY CREATE AND MAKE TANGIBLE IN THEIR HOME, ONE THAT ELEVATES THE ORDINARY TO SUIT THEIR CREATIVE AND SPIRITUAL DEMANDS.


Innato Collection Tableware Set

Innato Collection Tableware Set by Ana Maria Gonzalez Londono

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