Occupation: I'm an architect and the art director of Cappellini.
Current projects: I'm working on some new products for Cappellini, and also on two new showrooms for the company—one in Rome and the other in London.
Mission: I always say that my mission is to try to make people dream. That means that we try to do products that are good and nice and useful for others—but I think that really we have to work a lot on beauty, because nobody needs useful but horrible products. So I think that the most important thing in my mission is to try to make people smiling and dreaming.
The Peg sofa and table by Nendo are two of several new furnishings launched by Cappellini during last April's Salone Milan
Jasper Morrison's Elan sofa system was first released in 1999. Cappellini has now expanded the range for its 15th anniversary.
When did you decide to pursue a career in design? Since I was a kid. I think it started when I was six or seven years old, playing with Legos and making small drawings of architectural buildings or furniture. So, really, this passion started when I was very small.
Education: I studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, and during university I had the opportunity to work for one year in Gio Ponti's studio, which was a fantastic experience. I always say that one year with Gio Ponti was worth five years at the university. Then, after the Politecnico, I studied marketing at Bocconi University in Milan for one year.
First design job: When I entered the Cappellini company, it was a very small company, not working on design, just producing furniture. So I started by asking Rodolfo Dordoni to design some products for us, and I also began to take care of the art direction for the company.
Who is your design hero? Definitely Ray and Charles Eames, because when I see the Eames products after 50 or 60 years, they are still so contemporary and so beautiful. Also, when I look at the Eames house and studio—today, people like to mix different products and different styles, with different designs by different people, and really the Eameses started to do this 50 years ago, mixing traditional and contemporary design products. This idea of freedom was for me very, very strong.
This year, Cappellini began producing Shiro Kuramata's Steel Pipe Drink Trolley, designed in 1968.
Describe your workspace: Chaos. My desk is always full of small objects and papers and books. I like to surround myself with a lot of color and with many books, which I use as references.
Other than the computer, what is your most important tool? For me, paper and pencil is my life; I always need to have them with me.
What is the best part of your job? For sure, the creativity. Many times, people say that everything has been done in design. I absolutely disagree, because I think that, really, we have to invent so many new things. There are still a lot of things to do.
What is the worst part of your job? The hardest part is to try to do good projects while staying in a reasonable budget. Today this is very important. If the company tells me that I can spend one hundred, I have to do my best to have a good result with that one hundred. Or if the company tells me that I can spend one thousand, then I try to have the best results spending one thousand. So it's to control, very strictly, the budget.
Above and below: Cappellini's booth at the 2014 Salone
What time do you get up and go to bed? I get up very early in the morning, at 6:30 a.m. And if I'm not traveling—and I'm travelling, more or less, 200 days a year—then I go to bed at 11:00 or 11:30 p.m.
How do you procrastinate? Normally, I try to decide what is necessary to be decided very soon. But I also like to read books and look at magazines and so on. Because by being curious, you can always find new ideas.
What is your favorite productivity tip or trick? I think that it's to try to do a few things but good things, and always to try to work on innovation—to try to do today something better than what I made ten years ago.
What is the most important quality in a designer? I think that it's very important to be professional. For sure, to be a good designer you need a lot of creativity and a lot of passion for your job. But you also have to be very professional. To realize a new project is not just to make a sketch or design it on the computer, but to follow it from the beginning to the end of the project, like a baby.
What is the most widespread misunderstanding about design or designers? I think that people are sometimes still afraid of design products. They like to see them in the permanent collection of contemporary art museums or through the shining windows of beautiful design showrooms, but they say, "OK, this is beautiful but I cannot imagine it in my home." So I think that we have to work a lot at communication, to make people more friendly toward design products. People have to understand that designers are creating good products for their everyday life.
For 2014, Johan Lindstén has created new floor and table versions of his Meltdown pendant.
Also new for Cappellini: a bronze version of Jakob Wagner's Branch Table and a new version of the Brest cabinet, designed by Giulio Cappellini
What is your most prized design possession? In my house, I have the S-Chair designed by Tom Dixon. This chair is really still a classic of contemporary design.
What is exciting you in design right now? The market is moving very fast. So in the past, being in Italy, we were thinking of the Italian market or the European market. Today we have to think that the market is going everywhere in the world. We have to think of South America, the Middle East, the Far East, and do something that is understood by all these people.
If you could redesign anything, what would you choose? Maybe just a coffee cup. Or a glass. Something very simple that we use every day. I like very much to work on very simple items.
What do you hope to be doing in ten years? I think that we have to take care of the real needs of the end consumers. Today, people like to mix different products designed by different people, produced by different companies in different periods and in different parts of the world. I think that the new concept of design is this new freedom of the end consumer, and that design will evolve in this direction in the next years. So we will try to create products that can fit in very different environments—classic environments or very modern environments, environments that you can find in the States or in Italy or the Far East.
Lastly, who's more fun to have a drink with: architects, industrial designers or graphic designers? Well, today there are a lot of people who are at the same time architects, industrial designers and graphic designers. But, for my job, I always really like to discuss new projects with industrial designers.
Mason Currey is a former Core77 editor and the author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. Previously, he was the executive editor of Print and the managing editor of Metropolis. His freelance writing has appeared in the New York Times and Slate, among other publications. He lives in Los Angeles.