Giulio Iacchetti: the design from all points of view
By Andrea Carloni & Carlotta Ferrati
By Andrea Carloni & Carlotta Ferrati
Giulio Iacchetti does not need many presentations. During his career, started in the 90s, he was twice awarded with the Compasso d’Oro. In 2009 the Triennale di Milano dedicated a solo show to him. He has worked for some of the most important Italian company including Alessi, Magis, Artemide and Molteni just to name a few. He is artistic director of various brands such as Moleskine and Myhome. In 2012 launches Internoitaliano which becomes a new way to produce objects.
You work for many brands and you have designed many objects. Usually what is the first thing that companies ask to a designer?
There is not a precise procedure when dealing with a new project. What we are going to do is an investigation into the future which by its nature is unknown. The real theme is that in the beginning it is all a game of roles between the company and the designer, who sign an assignment with specific requests. In reality both know that this is only the beginning of a journey that they don’t know where it will lead them.
Is the approach to designing an object similar to a startup?
Companies often don’t know what they are looking for. Indeed, even if it is an oxymoron, what a company expects is precisely the unexpected. From a certain point of view it is also obvious that this is the case, because if they already knew what they needed, they could do the projects themselves.
Twenty years ago with the Moscardino project, which allowed you to win the Compasso d’Oro and other important prizes, you paid attention to the environment. Today the respect for our planet is on everyone’s lips, what do you think?
It will sound a little cheeky, but all these topics bore me a lot. Today designers are asked to pay attention to these issues, as if the fate of the planet depended on us. In reality we know that true sustainability can be achieved if everyone behaves correctly. Just think of the immense and often useless use of plastic. Real and important steps towards sustainability are not the single biodegradable cutlery, but agreements between states to stipulate laws that regularize and limit on a large scale some company processes and productions. The European law that excludes the use of plastic for disposable tableware is an important step for the environment. It would be nice to know that everything can be traced back to the magical world of design, but it isn’t!
What is InternoItaliano?
It can be defined in many ways. For me it is a widespread factory born with respect for craftsmanship. When Internoitaliano was born many thought that Italian craftsmanship was almost a kind of ballast compared to the most sophisticated solutions in the digital world.
Today we know very well that this is not the case. Indeed craftsmanship is our fortune, it is a heritage formed by centuries of know-how. In Internoitaliano the craftsmanship is put at the center and on the usual plan of the project.
To better understand the company approach, I am going to ask you this question. Have you selected a group of designers that involve specific artisans to carry out their projects together?
Yes, this is the theme. But one thing must be underlined. Today most companies sell products that are not built by them, but by, in a slightly derogatory way, the subcontractors. In Internoitaliano this does not happen so that the name of the craftsman and his activity is not forgotten. For Internoitaliano the activity of the designer and the skills of the craftsman are put on the same level. What results are “happy” objects, that’s how I like to call them, because they are made with respect for all those who collaborated in the project. At the beginning we adopted a radical formula in which the object was signed by both the designer and the craftsman.
You’ve had the opportunity to design several sessions; I’m thinking of Bek in 2007 for Casamania, of Stia in 2013 for Internoitaliano, up to Norma for Molteni in 2019. For many designers designing a chair is really difficult, in your case it wouldn’t seem.
I made my first chair after almost 15 years of working. This is to tell you that the chair is a project of great complexity because we all use it and we all judge it. During most of the day everyone has something to do with a chair and if it is not well done it is uncomfortable or not performing.
My first session is the 2007 Bek folding chair for Casamania. Here we have really challenged the technique in fact it is the result of two years of work. There are some very specific hidden technical solutions that make me very proud of this project even if nobody can see them. The chair is a testing ground for all designers, one of the most difficult.
When you started working, the Internet almost didn’t exist; how did your work change with the advent of the digital age?
I write a lot less letters and send very few faxes, but in reality it hasn’t changed so much! Everything is much faster and more practical, but the network and the ability to share for me is just a middle element. I have to tell you the truth, I like to feel like a man of the past century.
What you just said is about your approach to work. What do you think of the fact that today many objects are bought on the Internet without even being touched and viewed three-dimensionally? Does this approach to the buying influence designers?
For some types of objects, and in particular all those that cost less than 100 euros, a very strong emotional appeal is required. They have to tell their third dimension from a monitor that we know has only two. Obviously this can be very stimulating but I believe that the fascination of being able to see and touch an object in reality is not comparable.