Do you know what I love? Being happily surprised… first impressions can always be misleading. This past week at my abroad university, Politecnico di Milano, held a workshop. All of the students at the design campus were assigned to a company depending on their major. My program was assigned to do the workshop with the Italian company, Tucano. It is a company based in Milano that designs accessories for computers, ipads, iphones, etcera.
When I walked into the room, sat down, and looked at all the people around me, I was kind of intimidated. Once the workshop leader began to speak, and I realized, oh, this is all in Italian, I thought I was screwed for sure. I guess it was silly of me to think it would be in English, I mean I’m studying in Italy, I should be expected to speak Italian, no?
Gino Finizio was the workshop leader, he is a designer based in Milano, who has written books and lectured in many different countries on the subject of design, marketing and communication. He really has a passion for educating young people, as we are the future of the design world.
I thought that being a fashion designer would never mean that I would be designing a product for technology, but when I think about it now, how could I assume that? The world of design is a vast one, architecture, apparel, product design; they all overlap and influence one another. The world we live in today depends on design, we’re always digging deeper for innovation, creativity, to go more forward with an idea, to improve and look beyond what has already been done. I had believed that most accessories for technological products had been designed before, but in reality the possibilities will always be endless.
Our task was to, in one week, design an innovative type of carrying case for Tucan, with a particular technological product in mind. I ended up meeting two lovely Italian girls from Naples and working with them, it really was a great experience. They come from a different background of design; their program is a lot more about conceptual thinking, where my program at FIT is more about construction. It was a nice balance. We were able to bounce ideas off of one another well. They were extremely patient with me and my (poooor) Italian, and I even got to learn some Napolitano dialect! Like, statt buono/buona, it means stay well.
We had to stay up the entire night before the project was due to finish, but it was worth it. In the Italian culture, it is extremely important to them to make a figura bella, meaning, a good figure, the way they present themselves is something of upmost importance. So we pulled through the night, filled with a lot of laughter, tea, and some delicious pasta! I definitely dozed off a few times, but in the end we got it done.
They encouraged me to say my part of the presentation in Italian, reassuring me that I am well spoken, and it took a lot of courage, but I did it. My presentation wasn’t a hundred-perfect grammatically correct, but it was nice to see how supportive everyone in the room was. The son of the owner of Tucano shook my hand after my group’s presentation, and told me that I had officially received a honorary degree in Italian from the presentation. It was a gesture that I will always remember. Sometimes, being a little bit afraid and putting your self out there is a positive thing. I’m trying to figure out this whole experience one little brave American step at a time..
So overall from this past week, I have a few new friends, good memories, and a great innovative project to add to my portfolio. This is the photo of the product we designed called the IPhand, specifically for the Ipad 2, oh and that's my hand! They woke me up at 3 in the morning to take the photos, ha..
P. S.. here's the company's website if you're curious...