Today, June 29th, we celebrate Industrial Design Day!
For this occasion, we interviewed Federico Bonan from the R&D department at Metalco, a talented designer who makes our world more functional, aesthetically pleasing, and sustainable!
Industrial design plays a fundamental role in creating innovative products and transforming ideas into tangible reality. Through attention to detail, creativity, and awareness of user needs, industrial designers shape our everyday environment, enhancing our experience and making our lives easier. In this interview, we will explore the challenges, inspirations, and opportunities of industrial design in the modern era.
- How did you discover your passion for industrial design and what drove you to pursue this career?
I discovered my passion for industrial design thanks to the inspiration provided by my father. He was very skilled with his hands, and that unconsciously led me to pursue a career where I could express my inventiveness and creativity. Additionally, my early work experiences were not the best. I felt suffocated in a monotonous and unoriginal environment. I wanted to find a job where I could actively contribute, and that’s why I chose to pursue this career
- What are your sources of inspiration when working on a new industrial design project?
I have always considered myself a very pragmatic person, so in the products I design, I always aim to maximize their practicality, envisioning the experience of the end-user who will use them. Practicality is therefore my main source of inspiration, and even in my personal life, I tend to avoid unnecessary things.
- Can you describe your creative process, from ideation to the implementation of a design project?
The first step in every project is the study and analysis of it. I try to imagine how it will be once realized. From there, the working process begins, and with each phase, the image of the final product becomes more defined.
To make a comparison, it’s like a sculptor facing a block of marble and envisioning what the statue will look like when finished. The original idea is slightly modified and redefined with each chisel stroke, until the final result.
- How do you balance functionality and aesthetics in your work as an industrial designer?
It depends on the target of each product. In the past year, I have primarily focused on products aimed at creating an emotional response, so aesthetics and refinement were the main focus. However, this does not mean neglecting functionality, which should always be taken into consideration in every project.
- What are the common challenges you face in your role as an industrial designer, and how do you overcome them?
In my everyday work, there are several challenges. The first and most important one is to create a functional and emotional product while staying within a certain budget and fully utilizing the potential of our production department. To overcome this challenge, I rely heavily on direct collaboration with production staff, in order to better understand possible issues and receive direct feedback from those working on the physical production. This way, I alternate between theory and practice.
- How do you consider sustainability and environmental aspects in your work as an industrial designer?
Sustainability is a topic that is very important to me, both in my work and personal life. At work, I aim to reduce any material waste, whether it’s wood, concrete, or metal, and I strive to create products that have a long lifespan, requiring fewer replacements over time and therefore having a lower impact on the environment. These choices greatly guide my industrial design process.
In my personal life, I do the same by avoiding the use of plastics or other polluting materials, and I try to repair things that are broken or damaged rather than replacing them directly.
- What are the current trends in the field of industrial design that you consider important to follow?
The main trend in my field revolves around sustainability and environmental consciousness. In my department, we aim to go beyond greenwashing, unlike many other companies, by creating truly sustainable and durable products.
- How do you approach collaboration with other professionals such as engineers or manufacturers to carry out an industrial design project?
Personally, I believe that for collaboration to be fruitful, everyone involved needs to have the ability to listen and understand. You can always learn from others, whether they are world-renowned designers or industry professionals, as long as you are open to dialogue. One should not start thinking they know more than the other; instead, it’s important to engage in productive discussions, leveraging everyone’s experiences and keeping the final goal in mind.
- What advice would you give to someone starting a career in industrial design and aiming for success?
The advice I would give to anyone aspiring to pursue this career is to get their hands dirty, gain direct experience in the working world, especially in the realm of production. Here in Veneto, we are fortunate to have a rich artisanal-production heritage from which people can gain a lot of experience. Before diving into the creative and design phases, it’s beneficial for aspiring industrial designers to learn the practical side of product realization.