CONVERSATION

Gustavo Martini

The Diary of Gustavo Martini, product designer, professor at Marangoni and MM Award 2022 Jury member. Welcome to Caleido, an inspirational diary, that narrates many stories: about creative people, trends, travels, objects. / Read the Editor’s letter here

Diary of: @gustavomartini

Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
1. I can only start with your stylistic DNA: Brazilian by origin, Northern European by adoption. How do you manage to make room in such a maximalist stylistic background for such an essential aesthetic?

I love Brazilian culture, but we all know that a beautiful dress doesn’t always look good on everyone. It works the same way with my native culture: I appreciate every form of design, but when it comes to creativity I prefer my personal vision. Part of this choice is dictated by my dyslexia. This difficulty has inevitably shaped the way I create and see the world around me. My mind constantly battles with chaos to find new ways to simplify things.

Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
2. Your work oscillates between industrial design and art. What are the aspects of each that fascinate you most?

Making art means giving space to the maximum expression of the self, free and personal. Dealing instead with industrial design is something completely different: it is about approaching collective projects, with exchanges of ideas, which inevitably involve compromises.

Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
3. Caleido is a kaleidoscopic observatory, made up of various voices. We often come across creatives whose universe is crowded with many identity elements (colours, shapes, imagery, characters). How does an aesthetic as minimalist as yours manage to be just as iconic? What are its identity elements? Have they always been these or have they changed over time?

Surely a creative’s identity needs time to mature. Taking a step back to when I graduated in Brazil, I needed time to detach myself from the identity traits that are viscerally present in Brazilian design. From the beginning I felt I wanted to simplify things, to belong to a minimalist aesthetic that started from the choice of reducing the use of materials. And this is still a distinctive trait of mine. My first design project was the GANA stool, which shows this desire to work with very precise lines, but in this case I still felt the need to add solid wood to feel more Brazilian. With time I have moved away from this “obligation” that I felt, although I hope in the future to return to work with wood, perhaps mono-material. I like to work with materials in their purest state, adding at most a layer of black paint, because it is a neutral color that works well in any environment. In addition, I prefer to simplify forms, letting the focus shift to perception and not to added decorative aspects. Even though the designs look like seemingly simple objects, they stem from very complex thinking. Before designing I always spend a lot of time investigating and studying the context of the project.

Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
4. Thanks to your volumes, we can define you as an experimenter in solid geometry. Why this choice? Are there other “worlds” you are exploring? How do these volumes live between physical and digital?

It’s not just a choice geared towards the geometry of solids, but also the exploration of planes and lines. I belong to a generation that has experienced the digital changes firsthand and fallen in love with their endless possibilities. You can clearly see this in 2016 with the EDGE space in the satellite lounge which was very innovative at the time. It was a physical representation of an intangible space. The design in this case looks just like a drawing, done in cad.

Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
5. Are you a solitary person or do you like working in a group? And, apart from work, what are the things you like to share the most?

Both. I don’t have a single way of designing; I think we don’t always have to follow the same rules and this can help us create new ways to come up with new concepts. Sometimes it’s nice to design by myself and get lost in my own thoughts, sometimes there’s no better thing than sharing ideas and letting different opinions shape a new vision.

Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
6. You recently became a father. What do you like to pass on to your little O. from Brazil? If you think back to your childhood, what is one memory that particularly moves you?

The sympathy and positivity of Brazilians. In Brazil, when we ask someone “how are you?”, the answer is always positive – even if it’s a bad day – because, as we well know, words have the power to influence our soul. Rio definitely has its faults but having spent my childhood in that city was the best thing for me. Life in a big city by the sea gives a feeling of perfect balance. Who wouldn’t love to take a dip in the sea before going to school. Water and salt act as a renewed of our energy.

Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
7. You teach at Istituto Marangoni, of which you are now an ambassador. What aspects of being a teacher do you enjoy most? Is there an adjective that your students most often use to describe you? If you were to explore a new discipline as a student, what would it be?

What I like most is that Marangoni has students from all over the world. Introducing any theme opens up a debate that is always interesting because of the cultural diversity. A designer can’t just look at his or her own Country, and at Marangoni we have the possibility to create a dialogue with the whole world. If I were a student, I would want to study as many disciplines as possible. I love learning new things and I’ve been curious since birth.

Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
8. You often talk about ‘freedom of expression’ in your professional life. What makes you feel free in your private life?

I can find this freedom in surfing, maybe because this discipline also has its creative aspect and personal expression. I like to experiment with waves, places, and even different boards, almost like a research study. In fact, I’ve already built my own board. I never stop thinking about designing because that’s where I find my freedom.

Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
9. In your career, you have won various awards, which have helped you to become known all over the world. As a MM Award 2022 Jury member, what will you be looking for from the contestants?

Surely, they will have to come up with an interesting concept and be consistent in every single choice. I would also like to say that there is no concern about maximalists, because these are necessary characteristics for any project.

Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
Gustavo Martini
@gustavomartini
10. What is an object in your home that you would never give up? What is the memory attached to it? Can you send us a photo taken by you?

Usually I’m not too attached to objects, but a few months ago I made an Italic in wood painted black to be placed in the Navigli area (Milan, Italy) – as I had already done with the posters hanging around the city of Milan – but this time when I finished the piece I thought I’d keep it because I particularly liked it. For now, I’ll keep it, but I don’t exclude that one day Caleido’s readers will be able to find the work hanging somewhere on the Naviglio river stairs.

Gustavo Martini

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