CMF designer is an expert that is able to identify, define and propose concepts for products, spaces, interiors, experiences etc, through the main elementary characteristics. Traditionally textures, surface finishing, colors, and materials are the main drivers of a product, as they constitute and enhance their sensorial features, ultimately considered fundamental to define strategies and determine the success and desirability of any product on the market place. Having a strong relation with the technological and materic aspect, they are considered also main drives for innovation.
What did you study to undertake this profession?
I studied textile design in Florence, and hen I moved to London to attend a Master in Design for textile Future, where I focus specifically on material innovation, and specialized on surfaces for interior and exterior applications.
How would you describe your work?
I work as a freelance, on a variety of projects, and for different clients, beyond promoting my own line of material surfaces for interior and limited edition of furniture. I am collaborating with a research centre based at CSM, university of the arts in London, and I have been delivering works for design studios and architects like CAPS, Lumieres Studio, Peter Marino, HMKM.
My work varies from design research, material sourcing, concept development, mapping and identifying future trends, pattern and motif design, color mapping, consumer and user research etc..
Being “Color and Material” designer involves a great responsibility within a company. But it is still unclear how this figure occurs during the design of a product. Tell us how you get involved?
I never worked for a company, but rather worked as independent freelance designer. The service I offered varied according to the nature and state of the project I got each time involved with, and the client I worked for. I did in different occasions material research, on the prototyping phase of a product development and/or implementation, but also market, trend and cultural research, at an earlier stage. When I worked for brands, I first analyzed brands values and market placement of the same, and then through my knowledge of trends and innovation, I proposed and designed solutions, for interior, products, window display, brand communication campaign, and I contributed to defined color strategy.
A designer CMF must be up to date on trends. How do you collect information to inspire the design for new product?
I collect information from everywhere! From design fairs, art exhibitions, websites, blogs, trend forecasting platform I can access, magazines, news, films, fashion, taking part to talk, conferences, lectures, as much as possible. Travelling! Living in London is a great help too! It is a wonderful city, particularly sensitive to new trends and innovation, to ‘newness’ in general! Living the city, observing the people, what is going on in food, music, art, shopping etc, is giving you already a great glimpse of what new trends and movements are taking shapes.
Tell us about a project you are particularly proud?
I am particularly proud of my own projects on architectural surfaces for exterior applications and interiors. In the first case I developed a technique, where I applied nanotech cement with screen-printing process. Gaining a good recognition and appreciation, it gave me the chance to be selected and take part to an international art exhibition, to collaborate with Italcementi, the Italian cement manufacture that patented the material I have been using, and furthermore to be invited and host lectures in University in Taiwan, Italy and London. Last but not least I toke part to a conference on scientific data visualization in Copenhagen and collaborated with a nanotech institute in Aarhus, that allow me to win thereafter a start up program in Italy. What I love the most of my job is the multidisciplinary approach. A crossover of different disciplines, and a reasonably big and diverse network of relationships is what I proudly achieved in my project.
What difficulties can meet a designer working CMF? Do you remember a particular experience?
I think it is still difficult to work as a C&M designer nowadays. Few industries include this figure in their design teams, and that is mainly automotive industry, or electronic components. Whilst I believe any other product, interior, architecture, fashion and creative company should effectively count on us too.
In my own experience sometimes I had to undertake different roles, and carry out different tasks, in order to be recognized as a designer, or getting projects to work on.
It is not clear not only in my family, ignorant in the field, but also within design experts. It is not so common to find C&M positions, or it is very constraining, while we should be define strategies and generating concepts. Overall it is a figure, which is underestimated and underrated, often absorbed or absorbed by product or interior designers.
What suggestions would you give to those who would like to pursue your career?
To pioneer the field, spread knowledge, make a statement through more tangible artifacts and recognizable outcomes. Specialize more, define and insist on the importance of specialization, make it unique, make it clear. To demonstrate how effective would be to invest more time and resources on specialization, rather than fragmentation (of different roles, within one figure).
In Italy sexism is still very strong and women find hard to succeed, have you ever encountered this kind of issues or other discrimination in your career?
I don’t think so. Perhaps because since I started my profession, I lived and worked in London, where I still work at the moment and where I didn’t see any forms of sexism or discrimination, especially on the work environment. It is a ‘free place for free minds’ , and that is what I love the most.