Self-made design: interview to Luisa Bocchietto

Luisa Bocchietto is an architect, a designer and the President of ADI – Association for the Industrial Design. In 1985 she graduated with Marco Zanuso in Milan and at IED in architecture and interior design. Actually, She has a studio on her own in Biella and Milan and collaborates as a visiting professor and tutor with Universities and Design Schools.


From his dual perspective, as a designer and as the president of ADI (Association for Industrial Design), what “self-made design” mean to you?


For professional bias, I think about design primarily as industrial design. From my point of view, there is a clear difference between design, art and craft. With respect to this triangle of expressions concerning human intelligence, Italy has always been a country made of transformers, a country where self-produced design has been expressed primarily as a natural creative tension of the territory and its people. It differs from the do-it-yourself movement, typical of the American and Anglo-Saxon world, oriented to the creation of a purely functional object.

Nowadays, self-produced design links to a newfound love for “doing things” that is often associated with the attempt to reclaim to own the production chain:  considering a lamp, knowing of which materials it is made of or how do you achieve it, are legitimate questions that people have begun to ask themselves and which seek to give answers.


Compared to industrial design, the phenomenon of self -made design is often interpreted in two opposing universes of meaning: competition vs avant-guard. Which of these fronts, according to you, does it belong to?


With respect to this dichotomy of interpretation, I think there is a kind of false problem: many of the designers who make by themselves, actually do self-promotion. From my point of view, on many occasions, self-made design helps to shine and find companies producing in the traditional way.

Moreover, today self-made design confronts with a real problem: to well manage all the steps of the process and earn enough. To survive, you still must work for the few major companies that make products for the market.

Then young designers self-made as a passing phase. Unless the designer intends to pursue a form of artistic expression or a particular niche, relevant to the intrinsic value of the project, possessing a kind of quality that only a limited production can provide. In that case it opens up other perspectives: the artistic one which means to make the product the carrier of a philosophical value, or the craft of a particular method or practice of excellence.

In more complex cases instead self made design is reflecting an evolutionary logic that involves the whole creative process in search of new interrelationships between the various actors who today must interface to promote innovation.


Looking to the national territory, which are the most interesting places from the self-made design point of view?


Normally, self made design expresses the best in the most distant places from the centers of communication. Marche and Veneto, for example, are very active areas. Campania is also expressing a very interesting small network of micro-entrepreneurs. Here, a certain lack of the industrial network is turning into an opportunity that could probably lead to the formation of a new viable business network.

Turin, with the fallout of the World Design Capital events in 2008, can become an interesting laboratory .

The presence of these nucleos shows that there is an intelligence that often does not match with the national economic system, where often the quality expressed by the base is not utilized enough.