Expert Insights: Giulio Iacchetti

Designer and founder of Giulio Iacchetti Studio and Internoitaliano

Giulio Iacchetti, industrial designer since 1992, designs for many famous brands including Alessi, Artemide, Danese, Fontana Arte, Foscarini, Magis, Moleskine and Pandora design. The distinctive characteristics of his work is the research and definition of new object typologies, like the Moscardino, the biodegradable spoon/fork designed with Matteo Ragni and for which, in 2001, he has been awarded the Compasso d’Oro. In November 2012 he launches Internoitaliano, the “factory network” featuring numerous craftsmen labs with whom he signs and produces furniture and accessories inspired by the Italian way of living. In 2014, he wins his second Compasso d’Oro for the design of the manhole covers Sfera, designed with Matteo Ragni for Montini.

When and why did you choose to become an industrial designer and not an architect?

First of all, I’m not an architect, or at least neither I became an architect, nor I ever made a real choice. Actually, after attending part of my course of studies in architecture, I discovered a local school of industrial design, and I realized that that was the right way for me, I just didn’t know it. It was a great discovery, especially if I think about me when at home, I used to create things with my hands, answering to the need for new objects simply by making them.

What can your professional career – mostly as a self-taught – teach to a young designer who is approaching the profession?

It teaches that everyone must choose ones own path: there is no model, no standard to follow, no preset format. In my opinion life can be described as a great project, a project that is ours, personal, tailor-made, in which we are the tailors, and we should not expect to live in ready-to-wear situations. When you discover this enchantment, there is an incredible surprise, because you understand that this project can only come from you and no one else: this project involves great responsibility and commitment, but also great satisfaction.

What do you think design schools can offer young designers to prepare them for the job market?

I recently heard a very fascinating metaphor about school, which describes it as a sports shoes dealer. The sports shoes dealer gives you the chance to rent the best shoes to have all the means to win the race. Nevertheless, what we must not forget is that there are people in the world who won many races, running barefoot; of course this does not mean that having a good pair of shoes is a bad thing.

How does your work combine creativity, design and entrepreneurship?

In my experience, a designer face with a spirit of planning spirit anything that happens to him. Nowadays our work is a mix of activities and actions, from the design of spaces, objects, sometimes even clothing, to text editing and teaching, while following a craftsman in the development of a collection facing at the same time different materials and industries of reference. In the same way, a designer approaches entrepreneurship with a planning perspective.

How important is the relationship between craftsmanship, design and digital? How did the idea of Internoitaliano come about and how is this project evolving?

The relationship was born very naturally, since staying close to a craftsman leads you to immediately get what you conceived, what you designed, with something more: craftsmen will make changes to the project, most of the times they naturally improve what you imagined. A relationship of equality, mutual improvement and compromise develops. It is not like the work of a sculptor or an artist, who imagines, models and creates his work without any interferences. Interferences are always very interesting for us.

Internoitaliano was born as a consequence of my attention to craftsmanship, at a time when the quality of Italian craftsmanship, mainly linked to manual activity, seemed to be a burden for the development of the country. I think exactly the opposite: with this small project I wanted to demonstrate that the relationship with craftsmen could bring about important projects, and to remind that craftsmen collaboration with designers always existed. Even big names, such as Ettore Sottsass for example, found a way to express themselves at their best in their relationship with artisans. This means that the work of craftsmen represents a great value for Italy, and that it should never be forgotten or limited.

The digital world for me can help in doing the job faster and in a more effective way, though it is never a goal.

What skills do you look for in your employees? Could you identify the profile of the ideal candidate?

I always look for people I can learn something from, and I say this without false humility. Participating in the life of my studio means contributing with ones own qualities and inclinations. There are no subordinate or employer-employee relationships. Obviously I am the boss here, but I am very interested in people able to contrast me with intelligence, people who know how to express exactly what they are, who are different from me, who are not mere clones.

Salone Del Mobile and Fuorisalone: how important is it for a designer to take part in them?

For me it’s essential because it is a great and unique event, a sort of celebration of design in all its forms, in all its expressive modes. Missing this appointment means to avoid something special, which gets you in contact with quality, with the best projects in the world, which are all concentrated in Milan in a week. Of course, you can be a designer even without living in Milan, but not participating to Milan Design Week means escaping – as I said – a unique occasion.

What does winning a Compasso D’Oro mean today? What do you recommend to young designers to achieve such a goal?

We won two Compasso d’Oro “by chance”; as it often happens, life surprises you! I can say that we had some good ideas and the intuition of addressing worlds quite far from ours, such as a biodegradable cutlery or manholes. Winning a Compasso d’Oro is not a premeditated action, it happens, it’s difficult to set it as a goal. For sure you need to work well, in an authentic and genuine way, getting satisfaction from your job. The real Compasso d’Oro is the one you receive every day when you work on a new stimulating project that fully represents yourself. It is a gratifying sensation, nevertheless I felt the same emotion yesterday, while observing for the first time a mandolin I designed, in the hands of a luthier… I was very touched! This is the real epiphany moment: the moment in which you see that the idea you had, which was paper, passed on a computer monitor, then was a small prototype, now it is concrete. And I will hear it played on Saturday.

 

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