The multi-talented Italian designer Giorgio Biscaro leaves no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring a design or product’s success. In this interview, he reveals the secrets of his success.
Taking on the role as designer, art director and businessman, Italian talent Giorgio Biscaro is renowned as one of the most successful names in the contemporary Italian design scene. Since graduating from the IUAV in Venice, he joined FontanaArte as an Art Director. Described as one of the most representative Italian designers of the new millennium, in 2012 he co-founded SomethingGood, a brand that today he manages with his other partners, marketing high-quality articles made locally in Italy with the aim of promoting and developing artisanship and Italian knowhow. He is featured frequently in the international press and during exhibitions and design shows (including, among others, MoMA and the Triennale in Milan), and has lectured in various Italian universities, holding workshops, conferences and post-graduate courses. He was also in Kuala Lumpur in 2015 as one of the mentors for the Professional Designers Programme (PDP). Creative Home caught up with him to learn more about his design experiences.
Can you tell us about your background?
I got my bachelor degree in Design and Arts at the IUAV (Venice Architecture Faculty) in 2002 and, from the very beginning, I started working inside companies because I thought it would help me understand design workflow and the usually hidden part of the design process. Anyway, even though I was working for them, I was also busy with my own practice through which I engage in design techniques, materials and processes.
In 2012 I was appointed Art Director of one of the “Big Four” Italian lighting companies, FontanaArte, and in three years I managed to reshape it with three new collections and a brand new approach to market. I also founded a design brand called SomethingGood, which edits high-quality home-décor design products. This aside, I teach and hold lectures in many universities, from Politecnico di Milano and DomusAcademy to the Italian School of Design. Thus, my background in design is quite wide, because I always have a multiple approach: one from inside companies, and one from outside of them. I think this is one of my best professional values.
Can you briefly tell us about your company as well as your current and upcoming works? What are the projects that you have undertaken and those that are in the pipeline?
My design practice is based in Treviso, 20 minutes from Venice because many of my clients, suppliers and stakeholders are in that area. I will be focusing primarily on FontanaArte and SomethingGood: next year, under my direction, FontanaArte will present another full collection of lamps and I’m working closely with designers and the R&D team to deliver an excellent range of products. SomethingGood will see many changes in the near future and even if it’s young I think it will become a reference in the design world.
You are one of the mentors for PDP (Professional Designers Programme). Can you tell us more about your role in this?
PDP is a furniture design development programme organized by the Malaysian Furniture Promotion Council (MFPC) in collaboration with the Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) and it’s supported by the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC). The aim is very clear. The point is sharing an approach to design system, instead of just merely designing objects, because today this is not enough to ensure a company’s success. Of course we will also discuss about design languages, styles, trends and production techniques, but these are common knowledge and somehow they could be learnt easily. Instead, I’d like to transfer to all my mentees how much a designer must deal with the different aspects of business in order to deliver an organic and coherent project: it’s unconceivable for me to think about a product without caring also about how the brand will communicate it, produce it, ship it and all other implications that may arise. A design product is an organism, living in a specific ecosystem which has its own set of rules and inhabitants. We cannot forget this.
What do you think of the current design scene in Asia, specifically Malaysia.?
I’ve only been in Malaysia and Japan, but as far as I can see the former has really a lively and sparkling mood, which is the base for every change process. I think the first step has been properly made; now we should all work towards brand awareness and company culture. This is crucial in starting a process that would take companies from being suppliers to become international brands with a set of values that will result in self-support and progress. Brand culture makes sure everybody involved has a commitment: you don’t have to check with your employee about the quality of a product or service, because she/he already has this focus, because it’s among her/his values.
Finally any advice to established as well as upcoming designers and those involved in the design industry?
The ones I keep telling my students: first don’t make “object maquillage” and always ask yourself if a certain product has a reason to be in existence. Then, keep in mind, design is a cultural switch because it starts from our society and gives back to it, creating progress, values and wealth. Be curious about anything. Lastly, more pragmatically, is to remember design is about planning and strategy, not about nice shapes and colours: it would be like being a warlord and just caring about the armours’ decorations!