As you grew up riding bicycles and motorbikes, and then you focused on the study of transportation design after finishing the industrial design, what is your feeling towards transportation vehicles?
Studying transportation design (and management) at Milan Polytechnic was the logic result (for me and for those all who know me) of a path that started when I was a little kid. I was only 4 or 5 years old when I realized that TRANSPORTATION (moving from A to B) can be fun, it SHOULD BE fun.
…And on 2 wheels it’s always more fun, with your body & mind challenging the laws of physics. Obviously, I don’t expect all humans to be racers or to possess the same fun&danger-oriented nature, therefore I imagine and DESIGN a future where the non-fun part of moving/commuting is reduced to the minimum and for those fun-seeking ones like me there will be more and more opportunities to produce adrenaline in a safer and more eco-friendly way.
除了交通工具领域，您还涉足了医疗设备的设计，如VINNO Compact family 和 VINNO 80 family，这两者还分别获得了A’ Design Award的金奖和铂金奖，可以谈谈它们的设计历程吗？
Apart from the transportation area, you are also involved in the area of medical devices, such as the VINNO Compact family and VINNO 80 family and these two works win the Golden and Platinum A’ Design Award. Can you tell us about their design process?
Design is a state of mind, an attitude that can be applied to all fields of manufacturing.
By putting the FINAL USER(S) and their users’ experience at the very center of the creative process, a designer must be able to understand their needs and eventual problems and come up with an innovative solution. When me and my team first started working with VINNO, back in 2010, we spent plenty of time on the field (in hospitals, clinics and dedicated exhibitions around the world) in order to gain direct experience on the problematics and opportunities that real-life scenarios might offer. At the same time, we had to understand the state-of-the-art of the industry, by benchmarking the leading brands and their winning products.
The actual design of VINNO 80 series and all the following ultrasound scanning devices (including the brand new portable and some more extreme concepts still to be revealed) are the logic result of this patient-doctor-experience-centered process, with the added value of fresh ideas and elements of design borrowed from other fields.
In 2011, you led a team to take part in the FERRARI world design contest, winning the MOST UNEXPECTED TECHNICAL SOLUTION award. According to a report, you described that as “half of us are maniac, and half of us are genius”, I am not sure your exact words, but what is your meaning? Do you think design is a kind of thing full of madness and genius?
法拉利世界设计大赛对我以及我的一些学生来说都是一个很好的机会：法拉利和我先前在米兰理工大学的教授 Gino Finizio（他对于设计管理学科贡献巨大，非常有名）为江南大学设计学院提供了机会，与世界上一些最好的交通工具设计院校进行比赛。尽管学院没有开设专门的汽车设计专业，我和曹鸣教授还是挑选了一些最为热情专注的学生组建了两个团队参加比赛。我的团队最后取得了最“出人意料技术解决方案”奖（潘岱、巫佳、周一民 ）。
Ferrari World Design Contest was a great opportunity for me and some of my students: FERRARI and my former Milan Polytechnic professor Gino Finizio (famous worldwide for his amazing and constant contribution to the discipline of design management) gave JiangNan University School of Design the opportunity to compete with the best transportation design Universities all over the world. Although the school didn’t offer a specific major in CAR design, me and professor Cao Ming selected the most passionate and dedicated students to set up two teams and enter the design competition. The result is the award for most unexpected technical solution achieved by my team (Pan Dai, Wu Jia, Zhou Yi Ming).
Following the original design brief, we designed a concept hypercar offering an innovative sensorial experience to the driver – transforming him in a demon of speed. Yes, we had to think like “maniacs” in order to break the rules and come up with REAL innovation. At the same time, we couldn’t just create a fantasy-vehicle. The genius of our effort was to combine existing technologies and materials in order to give credibility to our concept.
FERRARI recognized this effort and invited us to Maranello (their famous headquarter in Italy) to share our vision with the other winning Universities and the rest of the automotive Nirvana.
At the very first beginning, you were a freelance designer. Why you came to China and became a teacher of Industrial Design in Jiangnan University?
Moving to China was an act of love.
Love for design and love for motorcycles. It was also very crazy (or very brave, as you prefer).
R&D in Europe moves extremely slowly and in 2005 - for my still young designer’s brain, it was frustrating to spend weeks and weeks working on tiny details of a complex product development (such a motorcycle) without having a clear view nor any responsibility related to the overall project. When the CEO of an American motorcycle company asked me to join them and guide their DESIGN department I just grabbed the opportunity and I surprised everyone (including myself) by leaving Milan and moving to Hong Kong. In 2006 we decided to set up a new R&D center in Wuxi – closer to some strategic suppliers. In 2009 that Company shut down all Chinese operations but I decided to stay. The first time I visited JiangNan University School of Design I was actually studying Chinese at the School of Languages: the decision to start teaching there was a very natural process. I was happy to share with young (and very curious) students my experience as an Italian designer in China and it was a strategic move for the School to hire me to give a more International education to tomorrow’s Chinese designers.
In your opinion, what is the difference between the design education in China and Italy? Would you combine these two together in your teaching method?
Combining Italian way and Chinese way of teaching is the natural result of my new multicultural identity: all the years I spent outside of Italy allowed me to remove the virtual barrier between “the way things work in Italy” and “the way things work in other Countries”. The result – I hope, it’s a neutral/multifaceted teaching method that can be equally applied to Chinese students of design as well as Italian or American or…
Nowadays, education should be global – good teachers must be able to prepare young designers to face a worldwide challenge of product design, integrating a personal+local+cultural point of view in the process of creating innovation. The fact that BUTTIstile signed cooperation agreements with both Jiangnan University and Milan Polytechnic is a clear example of this multicultural integration process.
Besides being a teacher, you are also a real entrepreneur. During these years, you have being switching the role of teacher and CEO. What do you think is the connection between the two roles?
Teaching keeps me young and forces me to be constantly up to date in terms of design-oriented trends and news. At the same time, finding good designers that can join my team is quite a hard task, so my cooperation with the School of Design of Jiangnan university, here in Wuxi, allows me to select and train my “future teammates” from the very beginning of their career, offering them an international working environment and a very good standard of living.
What kind of situation or opportunity that allowed you to establish Buttistile? Tell us about its concept?
成年后我就致力于做设计：BUTTIstile是我所有和设计相关的经历的一个产物。我想有自己的团队，我想有自己的风格（还在努力中……），我还想向世界表明：物体是有灵魂的，是有意义的，物体设计出来是要被爱的，并且尽可能多地被使用。我发现无锡的环境非常好：这个城市仍在寻求着它的现代身份，与古文化又紧密联系（它的园林和建筑，还有传统的手工艺品如陶器和丝绸），还有与它的未来也是（它的创新型公司比如Suntech, Aima, Midea等等很多）。我喜欢住在这儿，所以我决定在这里成立自己的公司，在这里生活的品质比GDP来得重要……
I dedicated my whole adult life to design: BUTTIstile is the logic consequence of all the design-related adventures I lived. I wanted to have my own team, I wanted to create my own style (strill working on this…) and I wanted to offer leave a sign in the world: objects that have a soul, objects with a meaning, objects designed to be loved and used for as much time as possible.
I found in Wuxi a very fertile environment: it’s a city still fighting to find its modern identity, very much connected to its ancient culture (with its garden and buildings, but also traditional handcrafts such as pottery and silk) and also to its future (with innovative Companies such as Suntech, Aima, Midea and many more). I like living here and I decided to set up my Company here, where the quality of living is more important than GDP…
Based upon an International view, Buttistile makes full use of the advantages of different regions, such as China’s manufacturing and expanding market, Italy’s advance in design trends. So what is the positioning of it?
We act as a bridge, we connect different cultures. You can also think about our work as a GLUE: design-driven innovation requires teams from all over the world to get together and discuss, fight, propose, test, validate new ideas. Design can be the coordinator of this process and BUTTIstile now has the experience and the right contacts to make this happen.
At present, China is slowly taking its step of transformation from manufacturing to innovation, putting efforts on developing the innovation industries. What kind of influence will it have on Buttistile?
The added value of BUTTIstile – the reason why our customers chose to work with us even if our design fee is higher than most (local) competitors, is our ability to create VALUE for our customers. Instead of being influenced by this change in China economics, we actively take part in this transformation, helping our customers to shape up their own future, creating together a logic of constant innovation that translates into brand desirability.
Our happy customers and their good-selling products that we designed are the signal that we’re moving in the right direction, designing GOOD everyday solutions for consumers, that also represent value for manufacturers and sustainable growth for the whole society.
Thank you for accepting our interview!
You are welcome!