Disclaimer: among other places, the mugs are on sale in the shops of United Colors of Benetton, and I’m pleased to say that they are also doing very well with the public.
Design of a simple daily object. How was your approach?
A simple daily object is maybe one of the hardest things to design since simplicity is never easy to achieve. With Benetton, thinking about a concept actually comes with a lot of fun and a trip down memory lane: it’s a brand that talks about the whole world, about color and pattern, about different landscapes and different people. I always start from complexity to reach simplicity. This is how I started breaking down complex traditional patterns into little graphic shapes, and then I took those shapes and multiplied, aligned, played around with them. I played around with shades and contemporary variations of Benetton’s core palette: green, red, blue and yellow. It can’t get more universal than that.
Is the mug a generation symbol?
It can be associated with a new contemporary way of living. Looking back we see how sharing a tea or a coffee was an important social event, surrounded by rules and rituals, and specially by beautiful and refined objects. Nowadays the rules have changed, but I think that a mug still represents the same paradigms: it is used while sharing conversations at the breakfast table with our family or after a night out with our friends, and even through emails or online chats. There is a more informal tone than the five o’clock teatime — but I wouldn’t call it generational because I think that a mug doesn’t reflect new rituals: it represents that same familiar ritual of being cozy and sharing simple moments with one another.
Can a simple object become a design piece?
Definitely yes… A mug can be a very boring and ordinary item, but it is also a great canvas and an excuse to design something different that people want to have and share with someone they love. Design objects are not made to be kept in museums, they are made so that people can imprint stories on them, simple stories about real life events and daily details that we all have in common.
How do you match aesthetic with utility?
I am not a product designer so for me utility is a very abstract quality and I struggle with it quite often. The ultimate goal for me is to make something already defined as useful more appealing, through aesthetics.