GIOPATO & COOMBES - We explore differences, Milan/ London and the concept of contamination. (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)
To Cristiana and Christopher design means finding the synthesis between the emotion behind conception and the pragmatism of innovation. In every product rationality, essential condition for the development of the project, meets intuition and emotion, in the research of a constant balance. We find out more:
You have some surface differences: (woman/man, architect/designer, Italian/British). What are the similarities?
We both love challenges, three years ago we dived into our independent design adventure with no doubts. We are not afraid to take new ways, and we are both very positive thinkers. We share a great passion and special attitude toward design that leads us to express our visions, and also our different characters, in a unique project. We have a great respect of each other’s skills and visions, and we believe in differences.
What are the key philosophies behind your work?
We work especially in the light eld, and the light has a big power: it arises deep emotions. Our mission is to create contemporary lights, which drive emotions; we look for a balance between technologic innovation and the highest artisanal manufacture.
Your description reads: “Christopher works logically and calmly while Cristiana works passionately and instinctively” . . . together you create beautiful results with both calm and passionate aspects combined. How does the process of collaborating work itself out?
We’ve worked together since 2006, we have learnt to work together and give us the freedom to express each other. We start working on a project just chatting about it. We investigate rst what’s the aim of it, in any sense. Then we immerse ourselves into it, passing the project to each other’s hand in different stages.
A true collaboration, where both parts are involved with the same roles, results from a strong alchemy and a creative tension that evolves continuously.
You have an eclectic list of projects including lighting, furniture, and even the interior of a helicopter. What is your approach to new design projects?
We tend not to impose ourselves any boundaries when it comes to experimenting with new projects. We try to study hard the constraints and we work hardly on those to create new solutions!
What differentiates Great from Good design?
Good design is functional, great design is both functional and beautiful, and it arrives to people’s hearts.
Something we have read a couple of times from you – “contamination of ideas?” What does that mean?
We hate to close a project into a box; we love instead when a project encloses different aspects that belong from elds very far away.
It becomes rich and unexpected. Both our inspirations and ideas for a project don’t come from an only source; they are the result of a process, of contents that, with time, elaboration and experience, are enriched with other content, becoming something else.
Cristiana you have mentioned the importance of balancing function with aesthetics because it ultimately gets you into the hearts of people - how do you know when you have achieved the right balance?
You don’t know it when you design it. That’s the frustrating part of our job. You realize if you have achieved it, when someone looks at your product and his/her eyes start shining! That’s when the magic comes, and you think “GOT IT!” Then you can take a deep breath.
Christopher – “Pushes industrial processes to their sculptural limits and tries to reduce the impact of industrial repetition”. Tell us more.
While working, I respect the motto of always stressing things and going beyond the established to find new expressive languages, through investing time in experimentation and research...
Please describe your thinking behind the – simply impossible to resist – Giopato & Coombes Editions?
We push our boundaries, not being afraid to “look in the dark”, hoping to bring back the magic of daydreams.
We aim to design projects that, both for quality of the piece itself and quality in manufacturing, result to be unique and that can become bespoke pieces.
You worked with some similarly talented people in your early years - Cristiana with Makio Hasuike and Patricia Urquiola. Christopher with George Sowden and Sebastian Bergne. What were those experiences like?
We both had the luck to meet and collaborate with very talented designers, from which we learnt a lot. It was a fundamental experience for our formation and to put the bases of what we are today.
But once we started our own projects we were very focused to get free and far from their vision and create our own language.
We are still in touch with them, and when we show them a new product, we still feel the same butterflies in the stomach that you feel when you present an idea to your mentor.
You both met while at University in London – you have lived in Milan for a long time. How do the two cities compare for you?
Both are very dynamic and interesting cities, and both have a stimulating design scene. We were in London at the start of the Millennium and we remember a unique and liberating explosion of style and energy. For us London represents extreme classicism and the breakthrough youth culture. It’s a lively, inspiring city that’s always in motion. Milan is a workaholic city; always busy, never stopping except the weekends when everyone leaves. It’s stylish and classic, and for the Design scene is definitely the “place to be”, but it’s more conformist than London.
What projects are you launching now and what can we look forward to from you in the next year?
We are exploring once again the concept of contamination, of things that become something else when merged with others, working on some extensions and variants of existing projects.
We are also working on an architectural project, our new headquarters! It will be a place where the exchange of ideas is central, where antique and contemporary coexist, where the lights will be the protagonists, where our collaborators will be happy to come and spend their time, where the green will delight our days and will remember us the change of the seasons. A human place, first of all.
Check out Cirque, Gioielli and Lace (pictured) now at www.giopatocoombes.com
It is known that Italy is the land of the beautiful form. Whether in fashion or furniture or automobiles – this much is known. What happens when beautiful Japanese simplicity contributes to the Italian idea as far back as 1963?
You were born and raised in Tokyo – you graduated from the City’s University of Arts, why did you choose a life in design?
At that time I wanted to follow an idealist thought, typical of youth. It seemed possible to me, through the design, to improve the quality of life in a democratic way, exploiting the power of industry and technology. Driven by a youthful sense of justice, I wanted to be useful to the social development. Operating in design seemed suitable to my sensitivity because combining my artistic attitude to my pragmatic side.
While working for Seiko you designed a set of clocks that were used at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, how did you feel about that at the time?
While attending the last university period, I won an important design contest, which brought me some job assignments like this. I was very proud of developing a project for the Tokyo Olympics. Unfortunately, however, once I nished it, I decided to leave for Italy, so I could not attend the great Olympics event.
In 1963 you moved to Italy – why did you choose this country?
When I was in Japan I often used to watch architecture and design magazines like
Casabella, Domus. The sensations that the images of the Italian magazines conveyed to me had an incomparable charm. So I decided that Italy was my destination.
You set up one of Italy’s rst studios for industrial design – what did you notice was the gap in the market?
When I arrived in Italy, I worked for the first 4 years at the Bonetto studio. There, I had a professional experience that allowed me to develop various aspects (improvement of my sensorial perception, search for authenticity ...). When I founded my own studio, I was able to express my vision about design, more focused on the social sense. My personal feelings and vision have been very important.
In 1982 you launched the very successful MH Way – what do you think was the key to the rare success you achieved as a design company?
After four years of activity with my design studio, so with quite a knowledge about the process around a new product development process, I founded MHWay. The key of its success has probably been my will to perceive the value of the project and follow it freely. There are always many doubts before nishing a project, but if despite everything your belief about it still wins, it’s worth trying.
Makio Hasuike & Co. is truly interdisciplinary – what is needed to deliver successfully in Architecture, Product and Communication design?
First, a vision of the future and tomorrow. A constant mix of input that stimulate my imagination and a deep research to understand what can make the environment and life better. In addition, it is necessary to be continuously updated with technology.
What would you say have been your design philosophies and approach?
Simplify and lighten. Be stimulated by new events and discoveries, and at the same time re ect on things that don’t change. Follow the instinct, what I like or not.
In over 40 years of working with leading Italian and International companies – what has been the key for you to staying ahead?
Everything is the result of the work done with companies and the good relationships grown with customers during collaborations.
“Directing an orchestra, a composition made of space and light, constraints and needs, dreams and visions. Whether for a unique occasion or for everyday purpose, architecture is an evolving idea.” Please explain more:
Situations, thoughts, possibilities ... nothing stops. Each project is a combination of many factors. There are not two that are the same. Each project is a unique opportunity.
Makio Hasuike & Co. has provided internship to some of today’s major design stars – what does your company look for in its design employees?
Each employee has different qualities. In general, they should be curious, should have the capacity to listen and analyze, should have patience and pay attention to their work. In addition, in recent years, the knowledge and the ability to use software has become important.
A LIFE IN DESIGN
Makio Hasuike was born on 20th January 1938 in Tokyo. Graduating from the Tokyo University of the Arts in 1962, Makio Hasuike began his professional career in Japan by working for one year with Seiko: he designed a set of clocks and timers for the Tokyo Olympic Games, held in 1964. In 1963 he established himself in Italy, working in different elds of industrial design. In 1968 he set up his own studio in Milan, one of the rst studios of Industrial Design in Italy. In 1982 he created MH Way, an experimental project aimed at conceiving and marketing some innovative products such as bags and briefcases. This thorough design activity directly confronted him with all the aspects connected with production and distribution. The company, still active today, is a rare example of a successful “design company”. In over 50 years of activity he has been collaborating with several Italian and international companies, in various elds, contributing to their success through design solutions that are innovative in terms of appearance and contents.
Makio Hasuike & Co. works in a wide range of design: from high technology instruments and tools to work and spare time accessories, from small and large household appliances to furniture and home accessories, from brand identity and packaging to Exhibition Design. Clients include 3M, BVLGARI, Chicco, Gaggia, Kohler, Lavazza, NEC, Nescafe, Panasonic, WMF and Villeroy & Boch. Its projects have obtained many prestigious prizes and acknowledgements, such as “Compasso d’oro”, “Macef”, “Triennale”, “Smau”, “Bio” (Ljubljana), “Design plus” (Frankfurt), “Design Preis” (Stuttgart), “Design Innovation” (Essen), and they continue to be displayed in permanent exhibitions like the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) of New York.
Makio Hasuike is one of the members of the founding committee of the Master in Strategic Design at the Polytechnic of Milan. In 2016 he received the Compasso d’Oro Lifetime Achievement Award.
7 Quotes from MAKIO HASUIKE