Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Mykolas Seckus and Antonio Gandolfo ("MSAAG") 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?

MSAAG : Antonio: I have been studying Architecture since high school and since then I have decided to get specialized on small scale projects. I have then decided to attend an Industrial design degree in Turin, at the Polytechnic School of Torino which was a great school that gave me the tools to start building my skills. I have got the opportunity to attend a semester of Erasmus in Riga, Latvia, at the Art Academy of Latvia, one of the richest experiences of my life. The teachers in Riga selected one of my projects done during the semester to go to the Stockholm furniture fair and present it during Design Week. In my student career, I also worked in two different studios for internships. The first one in Turin, it was a renowned office for prefabricated houses called Leap Factory, the second and longest was in Copenhagen at BIG, Bjarke Ingels Group as Industrial Design assistant for one year. During this period I have met my partner Mykolas.

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

MSAAG : talking for me, Antonio, industrial designer, making stuff isn't really as a job but is more a way of life. When I was a kid I have been always inventing things making them with my hands. Since then, my background was starting to orient towards small scale goods. Even though I have been studying in an architectural high school keeping a wide-open view, my choice was to become an industrial designer. While for me, Mykolas, Landscape Architect, since I grew up in the suburbs with my neighbor who is now a product designer we used to build and deconstruct things. As I noticed my particular fascination in design and art, I tried my chances at the National Art School where I was able to explore a wider range of art profilation. Not surprisingly I found myself enjoying the most the design curricula with particular focus on spatial design. But what concerns the question of why Landscape Architecture and not Architecture I don't have a definitive answer, but I would assume it was the fascination of the natural environment and the opportunity of working with raw elements and aiming to adapt them or transfer those primitive but complex qualities in an urbanized setting.

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

MSAAG : Antonio: I definitely chose to be a designer, it’s been my vocation since I was a child.

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

MSAAG : Antonio: It is hard to tell, I don't really prefer something, I love to get free random inspirations. I can tell what I have more fun to design which is furniture, especially chairs. Mykolas: Well since I like to think of designer from a professional perspective as somebody with the toolset to create something. Some of us focus on small scale objects, while others on spatial design. But for me, the exploration of different scales and mediums is probably one of the most exciting things as a designer.

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

MSAAG : We think that the only way to get good results in a designer’s life is to always try and be confident with your skills. These two little things do not sound new for sure but it is really easy to forget about, sometimes you just need small rules to win...

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

MSAAG : A great designer always aims to solve problems of contemporary society, the designer is not a stylist.

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

MSAAG : Antonio: Design is to create something addressing needs for people. Design is all around us, it is invisible, sometimes we don't realize that simple things can change the world. That is design. Mykolas: Just like Antonio said, design has to address something either the needs or issues of its users. Design should alter behavioural path. I guess it could be anything physical or digital consciously made for one or another purpose.

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

MSAAG : The real value of good design is found in what we actually think is helpful for our world, solving problems and design towards a new way to think to invest in something recognized as “Good Design” is investing into the future and at the same time investing for a better life for anyone. Spending capital on developing goods that we don’t need is translated into a waste of resources and human energies.

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

MSAAG : We would love to realize an Urban Furniture system if we had the time, something modular that helps people in creating new environments for overcharging lives...wait we already designed it! We just need to get it done, the project is already award-winning...

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

MSAAG : Our dream is to actually have the possibility to build our urban furniture system for real and hopefully for the area it was specially designed for.

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

MSAAG : Antonio: I believe success is composed of a group of ingredients. The way you achieve it is primarily based on the effort you put into the development of the project, then you need to focus on one main goal you want to aim for. Your result needs to fit what the client/you decided. The success is then dictated by the public response to the design. My key ingredient is to think about the whole process related to an object since the first sketches. Sketching something you already know is not viable is a waste of time...

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?

MSAAG : Antonio: I am in love with Dieter Rams designs, he is a perfect example of what design should be, plastic is not a crime, just know how to use it. I really appreciate Scandinavian design as well, it is the same field of Dieter and the whole philosophy behind how things are lived in northern countries is also a good example we should get inspired from for our houses.

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

MSAAG : Antonio: one of my favorite designs is the “pressed chair” by Harry Thaler, an Italian designer based in Merano. I love this object simply because is the essence of sustainability and good design nowadays, it is produced using one material and 1 main process.

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

MSAAG : Look constantly around you, analyze and get your critics about what you see. Learn and remember from all the experiences.

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

MSAAG : I can’t really say, I love this job and I don’t really see myself doing something else.

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

MSAAG : Antonio: Design is to create something addressing needs for people. Design is all around us, it is invisible, sometimes we don't realize that simple things can change the world. That is design. Mykolas: Just like Antonio said, design has to address something either the needs or issues of its users. Design should alter the behavioral path. I guess it could be anything physical or digital consciously made for one or another purpose.

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

MSAAG : the people and the experiences that taught me a lot in my life were mainly my teachers in Latvia and my mentors in the office in Copenhagen.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

MSAAG : We are still working to become a great designer

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

MSAAG : I have encountered many obstacles during my short career so far. The biggest one was the challenge to change the user’s mind. Sometimes you have a vision where you think at least you could make something better for real but changing some people’s habits.

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

MSAAG : designers should present their work without filters, showing up the whole process and the path being followed during the design stage. Sometimes the client fall in love with something you did not consider important

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

MSAAG : As a duo, we would like to keep on working on our first project, 1x1. The goal is to develop it on the way we can then serve it to any situation. In our future we would love to develop new concepts directly requested by clients.

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

MSAAG : my ultimate goal as a designer is to develop products addressing real needs of people, solving XXI century’s problems.

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

MSAAG : People always expect to receive professional and complete packages of content.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

MSAAG : Antonio: Design is to create something addressing needs for people, sometimes we don't realize that simple things can change the world. Design is a word often improperly used, good design must change our way to live solving daily challenges. Mykolas: Just like Antonio said the design has to address something either the needs or issues of its users. The design should alter the behavioral path. I guess it could be anything physical or digital consciously made for one or another purpose.

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

MSAAG : As a duo, we received real satisfaction from our adaptable furniture system. It yet received two first prize in two different international competitions such as the “A design award”. We really believe in the idea behind the system and we recognize is something could really change the way we live our urban environments.

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

MSAAG : I would like to see more quality in terms of optimization of resources and better/clever designs that really follow what good design teaches us.

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

MSAAG : We can't really tell right now, Corona Virus is a game-changer

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

MSAAG : Finalize a design is a very long process it could take from a few months to even a year or more. The time you need is related to volatile factors such as the way the client behaves. Another important factor is the complexity of the product requested.

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

MSAAG : It really depends, sometimes I think about it randomly and I suddenly come up with some ideas. Other times, especially if it is a more complex project I need to start from research and different studies. I change my approach accordingly to the type of request.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

MSAAG : do it, but better

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

MSAAG : We think it is a bit of both, there are people and things in the design field that actually sets a trend, the rest is following...

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

MSAAG : Antonio: “da cosa nasce cosa” from Bruno Munari

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

MSAAG : Antonio: one word, practice


1x1 Urban Furniture System

1x1 Urban Furniture System by Mykolas Seckus and Antonio Gandolfo

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