Emilio Cassani is an award-winning designer, educated in Milan Italy. We invited him to speak to us about his background and education, his creative process, and how he uses various design tools to achieve consistently high quality industrial and product design.
Anthony Frausto-Robledo (AFR): Emilio, can you tell me a little about what led you into industrial design as a career? Did you grow up always wanting to design objects and things, or did you have other ideas about what you might do when you grew up?
Emilio Cassani (EC): I always wanted to design objects and things since I was a kid. My first desire (when I used to play Lego) was to become an “engineer” for Lego products. Then I entered mechanical engineering when I went to university, but I soon realized that it wasn’t my real desire. By chance I then saw the advertisement of Scuola Politecnica di Design in Milan underground trains. I visited the school and I realized that industrial design, which I had never heard of before, was my real interest.
AFR: Going to school in Milan would have put you in the center of action in the design world, what influences did Milan play on you as a young designer in college?
EC: Milano is the center of the world when you speak about design. I started meeting people from all over the world since my first day at the design school and I liked it a lot: attending to lessons with students from very different cultures was a continuously stimulating experience.
AFR: You began collaborating with Isao Hosoe Design in Milan very early after graduating from college, what did you take away from that collaboration and how has that contributed to your success being on your own?
EC: I first entered Isao Hosoe Design in Milano on an internship during summer vacations before the last school year. I then continued frequenting Isao’s studio during the last school year so I started my full time collaboration the day after my final exam and it lasted for seven years. I then made a few projects as an external consultant for IHD. Again the most important aspect was the international pattern that led me to work with people from all over the world enriching my experience. That collaboration was fundamental to create my whole ability of designing.
AFR: You have won several design awards for your industrial design. How important are design awards for obtaining new work in the field of industrial design?
EC: I am afraid I must say very little. Company owners and managers are very practical people that judge on their own the quality of the project you show to them.
AFR: You involve yourself in many parts of industrial design, such as packaging, lighting, appliances, furniture and industry. Do you have a favorite activity? And have you ever been interested in car and transportation design, for example?
EC: My favorite activity is industrial machine design as often it is a completely virgin territory for design and the designer has the chance to really improve the quality of the products in all design aspects: ergonomics, usability, communication and so on. I faced car design only in a school project, unfortunately, but I found some of my unripe ideas implemented by other designers the next years. At Isao Hosoe Design I was part of teams to design twisting seats for Japan Rail West and a concept of car interiors for Fiat.
AFR: Your work on the BRIO, QIK and FBP are really quite fascinating. How would you describe your challenges and successes with those projects? Those systems seem very complicated compared to designing a table or light, how does that complexity change the design process or your way of thinking and working?