How a project is created and developed

The initial phase of a project begins with defining the theme. What happens next? Someone, also here in the studio, immediately gets to work on the computer while someone else takes a pencil or does some brainwork without doing anything else, which is fundamental.

The pencil is the first step in the process and the work. Even though the computer is an extraordinary tool, it is much more restricting and much slower with regard to invention. The first part of the process involves a set of images; it takes shape with a pencil, and lines are drawn. Then, these lines lead to a shift, to a different scale of work, even a mental scale, always using a pencil and making more clearly defined sketches. And as soon as we understand that this is the path to follow, the next step involves the computer, which enables us to carry out checks that we never did in the past. We were once bound to the drawing board, which influenced the shape of the project. Before that we used a parallel ruler and then set squares and the shape of the project also came from observing certain angles when tracing lines, which, instead, have been replaced by using the computer.

We use a 3D physical model because we use models a lot at a reduced scale or a scale of 1 to 1 in order to design. Immediately after the initial sketch, which expresses a deep concept, it is difficult to say how this initial idea arises as it is always different. It comes from a million ideas.

After this physical step, we use the 3D model instead to develop proportions or techniques together with technical detailed drawings.

We obtain these inputs, ideas and changes from the model.
This work in progress that follows on from the work done on paper, then on the model and the computer, allows us to compare the purpose of the image reproduced on the computer with the one obtained from a model. There is a very big difference, at least for me, but I believe it is the same for everyone. I have found that the image on the computer is not clearly legible, it is deceptive and affects the end result of the product.
The pencil is the fastest way of stepping from here to there. Therefore the first step, the sketch, is quickly done in pencil, enabling an idea to develop much more easily than when passing directly onto the computer.
We do not use rapid prototyping very often because, as Anna says, for us the model is a work tool for developing the project. So when the model is developed, it changes, it is updated, which cannot be done with a rapid prototyping model.

The design product has a “father and a mother”: the designer and the company. The creative ideas of the designer are integrated with the company’s know-how, market experience and communication. These two things need to be combined.
The quality of the design, the product and the project also change according to the type of relationship with a customer. The design sometimes becomes impersonal, whereas at other times there is concreteness and therefore a different feel for the design, which arises from being able to have direct collaboration at times, as well as meetings with customers or company staff, as in the present case; in my opinion the latter is fundamental. Many foreign customers, due to the absence of any specific tradition in creating a design, which we have in Europe, have difficulty in understanding that a project does not come from the planner or the designer alone. A project comes from the designer, the company and the craftsman who makes prototypes because each one makes a contribution that must be seized and used. The designer must be capable of gathering this input to put the project into perspective, but with long-distance collaborations this does not occur.
For some quite complex projects it becomes really difficult to finalise all the details in the right way.
I don’t remember who it was, but a famous designer said and maintained that design is made of details. I think this is very true: there is clearly an overall aspect but the same shape that does not have its details put into perspective loses substance.
We should not be discouraged when faced with the difficulties of defining the expression of a shape because at a certain point the solution arrives, and we just need to give this development of the project time to mature.
In fact, I say “inspiration”: but we continue to copy. Inspiration comes from existing things in existing forms of expression and reinterpreting them. It is very difficult to find something new in design; past objects are always reinterpreted in an updated form. Then there are extraordinary innovations, but then we are speaking about architecture not design.
So why do we continue to make tables? And why do we continue to make chairs?
I can say that I am no longer an architect but a chair maker because I have always designed chairs. I continue to design them, though they are always different in some way, to convey the shape of the chair and to make it. I always get my ideas from something. You have asked me what my sources of inspiration are but it is the reality around us, andthen the best designers among us, “the Eames”, who, in my opinion, are a milestone in the evolution of design. We cannot remake the things that “the Eames” have made. They made them with the right form of expression for the era in which they worked.
What is the point of being in the world? What came before and what is to come?
A number of questions arise about the point of designing a new table.