Ciao Mario & welcome to our creative family! You design furniture, lightning and other objects. Can you share what it is to actually be in your profession: how do you plan things, what’s your work process & how do projects start, change and finish in real life? We’re exited to know more :)
My profession is a bit different than how I imagined it when I was a student, actually I spend more time traveling and meeting people than in the studio designing. But it is very interesting because everything starts from a relation with someone else with an objective or a dream, my role is about to make that dream take shape. What comes next is very related with production, spending a lot of time with the guys that will make my drawings a real thing. Once we have a prototype it comes the hard part that is to plan how to tell what we have done to the world.
So if not the creative process of the object, then what is the biggest challenge you face professionally?
To let others understand the value of what I do and the importance of a meaning in what you do.
How would you describe your profession in 5 words?
Challenging, twisted, tiring, but inspiring and beautiful.
Have you found a favorite material to work with on a product design?
I love metal, when I design with it I feel like it is something natural to me.
How many projects do you work on at the same time?
I try to manage no more than 5 projects at the same time, I want to work on quality more than quantity.
And this is why we like working with you. How many hours per week you usually spend working, including planning things?
It is difficult to say how many hours I work, I am a full time designer, I can say that I am working every second I am awake.
Think, when you’re an independent creative, it’s always like this. How do you decide what to charge? Do you count price per project or based on hourly rate?
I hate hourly rates, I work on goals. I prefer to charge per project.
We’re on the same page! Tell us about the project you’re mostly proud of as an independent designer?
I am never proud of a project, but I am proud of the people that worked on it. I work surrounded by talented people, so I can say that my best project is the net I have created around me.
That’s lovely! And what was the first product you designed?
It was something very complicated, a picking elevator platform for an international company. I did it when I was 23, I still can not believe how I did it!
You have your own design studio, right? How many ‘hats’ do you wear to run your own business? Does someone helping you? How do you combine creative work with business handling, PR, marketing, accounting etc.?
I am a one-man band at the moment, so I am the manager and the designer of my studio. But I have a lot of friends that helps me to grow. I have a PR office, accountant and some artisans that help me to do what I cannot do or I do not have time to spend on. It’s great to work with people from other fields because you can have different opinions from professionals that do other interesting things.
Do you have any projects/collaborations you work on aside for free?
My work is based on collaboration, I never do things by myself, but sometimes I do some research in the studio and if I am satisfied with the result I do some pictures and share it with my online community.
In general, is it possible to financially survive from being an independent designer in your profession or do you need to have a regular work on aside? What is your experience?
I have done just one job in my life since I was 21, and it is the designer. It is bloody complicated to make a living with it, especially if you are an independent or you have your own studio. I do not have a formula on how to make money, what I can say is that if you give all your self to your passion, you can find a way. However doing something else while looking after the money to come is noble and helps you to understand the value of money and how to manage your time.
Passion & influence
How much, you think, location affect work & career in general?
Location is very important, but nowadays you can fly easily everywhere and talk to people on internet. So I think the best choice is to be where you want to be and work with who you want to work, even if it takes 9 hours of fly. I chose to stay in a calm city where I can work quietly on my designs and take rest between travels.
You’re from a creative family, right? How big of a role did that play in your life? Do you think creativity is in your genes?
My both parents are architects, so I did grow up surrounded by architecture, and I think that it influenced my sensibility for creativity, but not necessarily. Creativity is not about generating an idea, but it is about reflecting on it and developing it, everyone can learn it by studying and browsing.
Do you remember when you felt a crush on creativity for the very first time?
I am also a guitar player since I was in high-school. I used to write songs with my friends and it was great when I first heard one of our songs recorded professionally on a stereo. Then I realised that creating things is the most satisfying.
Cool! And what was the moment when did you, as a guitar player, realise that design is your niche?
I went into design because my teacher told me „You are good, why don’t you try design?“. I did not even know what was it by then, I just did it and loved it. Now it is my life.
You also specialized in science while you was in sec. school, right? How this influenced you to study industrial product design after all? In retrospect would you choose studies or practice/internship?
Science school was totally useless for me actually for the notions I had, but it helped me to understand how to study and take seriously design studies with method. In retrospect I would choose studies + practice at the same time :)
And what was your creative path right till up to your own design studio? Did you have a regular job?
I started first internships and then jobs in design studios and companies since I was a design student. When I felt ready I started working on my own.
The idea, start & lessons
And how it happened? Did you take a lot of time to plan things or did you have the idea and jump in right away?
I just started, no money and no ideas. I asked companies if they needed my ideas, some believed in me and I started.
Cool! And what were the main things you have done to convert your idea into reality?
Cardboard prototypes, cardboard prototypes everywhere…
How did you find your creative style?
Attitude, I was very good at making things simpler. That’s why my objects are very (apparently) simple.
Was it so simple with payments too or did you have unpaid projects/collaborations when you started as an independent?
Yes, dozens… It is totally bad, but when you are young you need to learn how the real world goes and that is the price to pay.
So how much did you know how to run your own business when you started?
Nothing, zero, I was like a rabbit in a Savannah.
Really? So how did you got your first projects/clients?
It was like that:
„Hi, I am a designer“
„Cool, show me something“
I showed things and the guy I spoke to liked it and then produced it.
And what about nowadays? How media, social media and exhibitions play a part in getting clients for your studio?
Some years ago my work was published a lot on blogs and webzines and it helped my reputation, but it doesn’t work anymore. Now the only thing that works is to stand and go find collaboration in person.
What are the best lessons you had learn so far and what encourage you not to give up even if you fail?
You need to find the positive part in failing, because failure is the best teacher that helps you to understand where to improve. Passion is the key to not give up.
Someone said ‘fake it till you make it’. Agree or disagree?
Disagree, value is the most important thing. It’s better to make less but honestly and with quality.
Indeed! What are your top resources that helped you with your career?
Internet was the best at the start because it connected me with people that I would never reach otherwise. Also blogs like Dezeen and Designboom helped me to understand where design was going. Then my 3D programs where my saviors because I am very bad in sketching and it helps me to explain what I want to do. To conclude I can give a nomination to my pen that does terrible sketches everyday and my cutter that met tons of cardboard during the way.
What, you think, is the best path to your profession?
No idea, just follow what happens and do it great!
How far you allow yourself to plan things ahead? Are holidays one of them?
I plan every 3 months what to do in the studio and then I go deeper in weeks and days specifically when they come closer. Holidays are the must to plan! If you work hard, you need a prize :-)
Truth! Where do you want to go with your career & how do you figure your studio will develop in the future? Is there something you really dream of creating?
Things changes year by year. What I want is to gather more people around me, I am planning to grow, but not too much, I want to find a few but good ones.
Yes, quality first! OK, let’s imagine… If you weren’t in your profession, what would you do & where would you live?
In another life I want to be a bartender in some sunny forgotten South America island.
We feel very honored that you joined /neim/ creative family and designed an exclusive version of ‘Carati’ that can be found only at our shop. Apart of ‘Carati’, what is your most favorite object from the collection so far?
How would you describe /neim/ in your own words?
I think that /neim/ is a natural consequence of very passionate founders, something born from the passion to design, they love this topic so much that decided to share with other creators.
As a tradition, a question from creative family member: Richard Gaston wondering “Which of your products was the most challenging to design and why?”
Banchetto K, an open computer case. When I started to design it, I did not even know what a graphic card was… I had to learn how to build a computer.
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