Interview with designer Giulio Iacchetti

We meet Giulio Iacchetti in front of the church of St. Stefano Rotondo in Rome, where he is inaugurating his exhibition “Cruciale”, curated by Beppe Finassi and Domitilla Dardi. The subject matter revolves around the highly symbolic figure of the cross, at an intersection between art, architecture and design, which provides the perfect excuse to ask him some questions about other central themes that characterize his philosophy. But also to discuss the civil commitment that animates his projects, able to suggest visual emotions and new critical viewpoints of reality. Crucial matters, to which Giulio responds with precision and depth.

What’s the main challenge you faced when confronting such a vast (and central) theme such as the cross?
The aspect of research is fundamental and for any work to be authentic it has to be free of direct involvement with respect to what is being done every day. I began my investigation of the cross theme autonomously, focusing on the symbol and not so much on the religious implications. It was a pretext to examine, from a technical point of view, the multiple mechanisms through which a vertical and a horizontal line can intersect. An investigation I then extended to different materials and technologies on a path that has given way to a series of declinations of the cross and that then took the shape of objects of large or small dimensions.

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale

Excess is a key word when speaking of the modern era. What importance do you attribute to editing out what is "too much" in the design process?
We all try to give concrete form to the word "essential": to create something that truly does add to the quality of life. In my opinion it isn’t a point of departure but one of arrival, the result of a personal investigation.
The Salone in Milan is a topical moment of exploration and exposition. This shouldn’t translate however in the need to constantly add more volume, more shapes, more colors, because this would only create useless redundancy.

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale

In your book Italianità, you write of objects that contributed to the creation of a "visual conscience" in Italy. Where would you place your projects with regards to this concept?
In the book I talk not only of objects but also of odors, sounds, colors, architecture that express the Italian spirit. They are all part of a recent past and have become recognizable, tangible, sedimented. It’s my hope that one of my projects may encounter this magic circumstance and become an object that describes what it means to be Italian. But it is a very rare sort of alchemy and one must know how to wait.

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale

Aesthetic trends: how do you dose them in your projects?
We are surrounded and barraged by trends dictated by fashion. It would appear we cannot do without them and it would be wise to exercise a distance, because the risk is to end up in total obedience, uniformity, conformity. This kills the originality and uniqueness that each of us should be able to express. Of course we cannot completely abstract ourselves from everything, but we should be careful about dosing and recognizing the element of style and trend that is present in projects, components I always look to with suspicion.

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale

Disobedience: you did an exhibition on this subject. Who or what should the designer be defying?
I think each of us, regardless of what he or she does, may find contexts in which disobedience is not only desirable but a real civic duty. I cannot speak for others, but to my team and I it is immediately obvious when something is too standardized, in the sense that it doesn’t strive to be essential, to find a personal path and not conform. That said, I believe real disobedience can be experimented only by those who have authentically lived a state of obedience and feel the urge to release their spirit in other directions, usually uphill.

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale

What annoying but valuable seed do you think you were able to sow through any of your projects?
I discovered that the state of doubt holds formidable importance for us designers. To doubt something is the first step to start designing. Those who doubt make a clean slate of all that is sedimented and considered untouchable by all, it creates fertile ground to plant new ideas. Because doubt is a form of more or less veiled criticism to everything that has been done before.
For Guzzini I designed the "Lingotto" ice tray. Here the doubt is: can an object tell a different story, a sort-of immune carrier of narration – in this case also of a political nature – by provocatively correlating the value of water with the value of gold? For those that know the object, the message is evident.

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale

You described your father (an ex factory worker at Olivetti) as “committed in precariousness”. What do these conditions and limitations entail for a designer today?
If it were true that there are less resources, something of which I am not convinced, I think it would be the ideal condition in which to design. Everything that is in excess can create problems because it puts you in a context of saturation.
Once precariousness was the default state, now we have to invent it. To me the path of designing entails starting from a precarious situation. We have nothing? Then how can we do everything with nothing? You have to show some ingenuity. But when there’s everything you can do nothing. It may seem an oxymoron but it’s the way it is.

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale

Hand-crafting and customizing seem to be making a big comeback…
It will be a positive tendency of the next few years: a new way of rethinking the distribution of wealth and goods, of reasoning in terms of moderation. We have lost a sense of measure in these years of opulence: choosing what is good, before what is beautiful or flashy, means deciding to take the path of objects that express high quality, function and essentiality. It appears to me that this historic time has all the necessary elements to rewrite the terms of our relationship with material things.
I would like to put man and his decisions back at the center of things, accompanied by good, fair and durable objects. The opposite of fashion, that submits something new every 6 months and makes what we already have seem old.

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale

Craftsmanship in Italy is often developed outside of didactic circuits, is there a return to wanting to do without big companies, a return to craftsmanship without marketing?
I believe there is the need to recover this ability of making, of moving hands in synch with intellect and knowledge.
Universities provide an intellectual and cultural mediation and I don’t think this is wrong per say. In any case, when a student understands the limits of his college education (when it doesn’t transmit concrete values that can be felt and breathed), the time has come to abandon it.
One shouldn’t be so obedient to the course of study. Perhaps another type of research can be undertaken, such as an apprenticeship, formative experiences…
We have all been very arrogant to believe that 5 years of college could allow us to create important works of architecture or design. This is not the case and it never has been in the past. When you finished studying you would go learn the real tools of the trade in the workshop. This is my hope: the idea of a permanent formation, of always being vigilant and sensitive towards everything that can contribute to developing our cultural background.

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale
"Moscardino", a project for Pandora Design by Giulio Iacchetti and Matteo Ragni which won the Compasso d'Oro 2001


Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale
"Moscardino", a project for Pandora Design by Giulio Iacchetti and Matteo Ragni which won the Compasso d'Oro 2001



Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale
"Odnom", a globe created by Giulio Iacchetti for Palomar

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale
"Odnom", a globe created by Giulio Iacchetti for Palomar

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale
"Pollicino", cutting board for crumbs created by Giulio Iacchetti.

Lancia TrendVisions, LTVs, Giulio Iacchetti, Cruciale
"Ai piedi della memoria" by Giulio Iacchetti, created for the prize "Ossigeno italiano"

giulioiacchetti.com

We'd like to thank Domitilla Dardi, curator of the Cruciale exhibition.
23 March 2012
2 Comments
Lancia TrendVisions

Thanks a lot Maddalena!

2 April 2012

maddalena rocco

La croce è un archetipo interessante! Un terreno fertile di ricerca, mai banale! Complimenti anche per i contenuti dell\'intervista!

31 March 2012