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Interview with Mina Panic and Carlo Filippo Negri

Home > Designer Interviews > Mina Panic and Carlo Filippo Negri

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Mina Panic and Carlo Filippo Negri (MPACFN) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Mina Panic and Carlo Filippo Negri by clicking here.

Interview with Mina Panic and Carlo Filippo Negri at Wednesday 26th of April 2017

FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
MPACFN: My background is design, art history and documentary film. I studied at Goldsmith’s College in London and worked on a number of exciting projects before setting up IO Kids Design to produce my own furniture. I think my diverse background has created a valuable pool of skills that I regularly utilize for different purposes at IO Kids Design, including design, photography, styling and branding amongst other things.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
MPACFN: IO Kids Design www.iokidsdesign.co.uk is a London based studio whose focus is contemporary design for children. The ethos of our brand and our working principle is that design should combine style with versatility and longevity while embracing a real sense of fun that appeals to children and adults alike. We want children not just to see an object for its obvious function, but also to imagine its possibilities.

FS: What is "design" for you?
MPACFN: Design is the link between innovation and creativity. But I think the more interesting question for me will always be how we can use design to make the world around us a much better place to be.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
MPACFN: I have always been intrigued by product design for children as it represents a different challenge and having a family of my own was another reason to explore this interest further. With children’s products the challenge has a lot to do with creating products that can stand the test of time in order to get the maximum usage whilst at the same time designing eye-catching pieces that are functional, that have friendly appeal and which are also easy to use. Our range was partly inspired by this challenge as much as a personal desire to create interesting and functional pieces for my own children.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
MPACFN: IO Bunk Pod and IO Doodle box are my favourite pieces in our collection. They really represent everything that our brand stands for and all that we try to communicate with our work – Functionality, Versatility, Innovation, Sustainable design and at the same time they both have elements of surprise that appeal to both children and adults.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
MPACFN: The first piece which was designed for the studio was IO Bunk Pod. It was born out of our desire to create an engaging and versatile object that we thought was missing in the range of kids beds on the market at the time and it was also a request from our eldest daughter who desperately wanted to have a bunk bed of her own.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
MPACFN: Some of my favourite designers worked with plywood and I have always thought of it as being a special material. I remember with great fondness having plywood furniture as a child. For me the very nature of plywood evokes certain emotions and memories – comfort, playfulness and safety – it is material that is very much close to my heart. We also enjoy working with plywood because of its warmth and resilience and also because it is such a versatile material that is easy to use in different ways such as bending and flexing. Those processes actually enhance the very essence of this material, bringing out its beauty, grain and texture.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
MPACFN: Late in the evenings.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
MPACFN: In terms of designing for children which is our main focus, I think one of the key things is to remember to try and see the world through their eyes and to observe how they use, play and interact with objects around them. All our products have an element of interactiveness and fun about them which appeals to children but they are also aesthetically pleasing, multifunctional and of high quality which will appeal to both children and parents. The ability to transform is another key element. It has to have a practical role because if furniture has the ability to change and transform then its longevity can be enhanced. In this way the piece will remain functional year after year and grow with children and eventually or hopefully be passed on to future generations.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
MPACFN: There is a range of emotions that one goes through during the design process from excitement about certain ideas and concepts to frustrations if things don’t pan out as initially envisaged. My day is never the same especially when working on something new - every stage is interesting and creative. One of the most rewarding aspects is seeing any of the new pieces for the first time, when all the hard work on the design comes to fruition

FS: What makes a design successful?
MPACFN: I think design is successful when it brings an added value to its end user and when it is functional, easy to use and built to last. The design is also successful if it has sustainable way of thinking built into its design.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
MPACFN: Good design is above all about good quality and a clever concept behind it which will enable it to be around and in use for a long time. Versatility and innovation are also important elements that we attribute to good design.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
MPACFN: I think it is important that sustainability and regard for the environment is not only limited to materials and manufacturing processes that the designer utilizes but that the sustainable way of thinking is also integrated into the actual design itself. If a product has multiple uses and if it has been created with sustainable thinking behind its design this will enable it to be around for a long time and it will reduce the need of replacing it.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
MPACFN: IO Kids Design exhibited last in Copenhagen in February 2016 during CIFF Kids Copenhagen Trade Show. We were selected to be part of the trends zone within kids furniture sector, the show was curated by the Austrian designer Thomas Maitz with emphasis on sustainability, use of organic materials and strive towards long term functionality and use. This year we are hoping to launch our new products in September during Kind und Jugend Trade Show in Cologne

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
MPACFN: The ideas for new pieces come from most unexpected places. Often the pieces are created as a response to a problem or a task to solve (like my daughter wanting a bunk bed!) and sometimes the inspiration comes from making connections with something that is already familiar and then applying it in a new, unusual and fun way. In each case there has to be a need for a product and a good concept behind it.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
MPACFN: With IO Kids Design we aim to create design that will be enjoyed by children and adults too. Good design for me is not only about the way things look but also very much about how things work or function, the use of materials and interesting ways of using them also plays a role in this. If the design is well considered and can be easily used in different ways then this will ensure that the end product will hopefully be around and in use for a long time. Innovation is another important element. Good design should excite and delight and we hope that with our pieces we will be able to do the same. In terms of our design approach our aesthetic is related to function and it has kept evolving in that direction – continuing the exploration of ideas and techniques that will help strengthen the core principles behind the concept of creating adaptable and multifunctional furniture that can be used not only for a long time but also in different ways thus reducing the need to replace it.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
MPACFN: I live between London and Stockholm, two very different cities and yet very similar since they both share rich cultural heritage and long tradition in terms of furniture design and design in general. We are definitely drawn and inspired by both cities - with the energy and versatility of London and with the calmness of Stockholm. Our work is very much influenced by Scandinavian design and aesthetic and their emphasis on functional furniture made using natural materials with great emphasis on craftsmanship and good attention to detail.

FS: How do you work with companies?
MPACFN: We collaborate with retailers who either represent the entire collection or some of the pieces in our collection. All our pieces are designed in-house but we remain open to collaborations with other brands and producers and it is something that we are looking to focus and do more of from this year.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
MPACFN: We tend to do a lot of initial research at the beginning of every project to understand better how particular design can be used and how it can fit into children’s and parents lives. After sketching and model making we quickly move to prototyping which is as exciting as the early stages of research because it is often full of surprises with design evolving further, sometimes to suit a particular production technique. Each stage is as exciting as the one before and of course seeing the finished products and how children react and interact with it is the best part of the whole process. Throughout each of those stages it is important to remember to continue seeing the world through children’s eyes and to observe how they use, play and interact with objects around them.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
MPACFN: I have quite a few favourite things at my home but the ones that get a lot of use on a daily base are u my 1-2-3 Series Easy Chair by Verner Panton, Cap bottle opener by Shane Schneck, A stools designed ByAlex, my Villeroy and Boch Acapulco vintage coffee set and chairs by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec which were designed for the Danish brand Hay.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
MPACFN: To be curious and inquisitive and to always approach tasks with an open mind and to never stop asking questions throughout the process. The challenge should always remain to create products that bring value to the end user and that are necessary, easy to use, functional, long-lasting, surprising and inspiring.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
MPACFN: When designing our products we always like to remind ourselves of the less is more golden rule and to remember the wise words of Dieter Rams on what constitutes good design: Good Design Is Innovative; Good Design Makes a Product Useful; Good Design Is Aesthetic; Good Design Makes A Product Understandable; Good Design Is Unobtrusive; Good Design is Thorough Down to the Last Detail; Good Design Is Honest; Good Design Is Environmentally Friendly; Good Design Is Long-lasting and Good Design Is as Little Design as Possible.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
MPACFN: Curiousity, an open, inquisitive and critical mind, resourcefulness and ability to listen to others.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
MPACFN: We use a combination of tools from hand sketching, sketch model making, 3d modelling Cad software microstation, 3ds Max, Adobe photoshop, indesign as well as physical models. Our sources of inspiration range from art, architecture, film, design, from everyday life and through our interactions with the world around us.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
MPACFN: The biggest challenge has been creating the right balance between family life and investing enough time into managing the growing business, with an equal amount of time dedicated to ensuring that the studio also comes up with interesting pieces and projects which will enable us to maintain the visibility on the market and continue creating innovative pieces. It is a constant juggling act. Luckily my children love being involved with the research stages and their insights can often inspire ideas and aid the creative process. They are also the first ones to try out the new pieces and provide constructive feedback.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
MPACFN: This really depends as we often have a few projects and ideas which we are developing/ pursuing at the same time. But once we are set on the concept and materials the process can be fairly quick – With IO Bunk Pod for instance we had our first prototype within 6 months.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
MPACFN: The most frequently asked question is ‘What is your next piece’?

FS: Who are some of your clients?
MPACFN: Most of our clients are design conscious parents and also interior designers and architects.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
MPACFN: The early stages of the design process are usually the most exciting where the pieces begin to develop and evolve in different ways. I also always enjoy the prototyping stage because it is often full of surprises with design evolving to suit a particular production technique and off course another fun part is seeing the finished product and how children react and interact with it.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
MPACFN: We have started a few exciting collaborations with Scandinavian-based designers which will make this year and beyond very interesting for our brand. In terms of our objectives they remain the same, we want to continue creating exciting, fun and innovative pieces. In terms of practice our aesthetic is definitely related to function and it has kept evolving in that direction – continuing the exploration of ideas and techniques that will help strengthen the core principles behind the concept of creating adaptable and multifunctional furniture that can be used not only for a long time but also in different ways thus reducing the need to replace it.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
MPACFN: We are only two people in the studio so the process is very much shared between us. The key thing is that we have to be convinced by an idea early on in the process, the rest develops organically with each of us adding to the idea to help develop the piece further.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
MPACFN: We are doing material development research looking into what is possible to do with certain materials, what is the limit how do they behave and how certain materials can be applied to the new designs that we currently have in development.

FS: How can people contact you?
MPACFN: I can be contacted via our studio IO Kids Design www.iokidsdesign.co.uk


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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