The Many Shades of Design
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Fabio Novembre, multi-disciplinary designer, Italy
n Utopia, comes from a Latin word, which means "not a place" or "nowhere". I like this word because it gives me a starting point as a designer to create. When I designed a table for Cappellini, I gave it a glass top but I made 171 legs for it, because for me, it's not about what's on the table, but what's under. My passion for design comes from my need to tell a story. I have to make my clients enthused about an idea and I cannot get them excited if I am not convinced. I believe we don't need more things in this world — why should we increase the noise, the pollution of images and of more products, unless we find a reason to do so. We have to make things so we can love one another, and communicate with one another. In Italy, where I grew up, we have the piazza culture, quite similar to the street culture that India has. But now it's vanishing. I made a tray that replicated a street to tell people that let's bring the piazzas back into our consciousness and let's make spaces where we can meet and make friends.
Michael Aram, industrial designer, the US
n My association with India started in 1989, and my introduction to craft began there. I rambled through the streets of Old Delhi, watching in awe as I found little shacks and hole-in-the-wall places where sand-casting was being done, metal being hammered and buckets being made. And each of the products, be it scissors or shovels, they looked like they were 100 years old. And I thought, in a machine-made world, we don't see the hand of the maker. So I set up my studio and before I knew it, we became the first company to export handmade cutlery out of India. But things had changed in India. People didn't want metal buckets — it was seen as second-class — they wanted plastic. I have always wanted my products to have soulfulness, something which shows that there is a hand behind it, an "I made it" mark. That's what my customers in America look for — something that is honest. But my biggest challenge with the skilled labour is how to teach them that a fingerprint in a bowl is good, to give it the authenticity but polishing of a product cannot be compromised.