Interview with Davide Marin

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Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Davide Marin (DM) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Davide Marin by clicking here.

Interview with Davide Marin at Saturday 2nd of May 2020
Davide Marin
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?
DM: As an artist, I experimented a lot in the past with pastels/pencils drawing, wood carving, pyrography; I made experimental silver jewelry using material called PMC Sheet by Mitsubishi that allows to use Origami technique on a sheet-like mix of polymer and silver, that later is burned into a solid silver part. Photography, specially portrait and natural, low light photography is an hobby that gave some awards during international competitions such as the World Body-painting festival. Earlier during school I started looking at common products that I was using (pens, other school items) thinking if they could have been improved in functionality and usability. Later, I started getting interested into electronics based projects, using scavenged components; For a while, I was into developing Apps and programs for PCs. Among time, all those skills merged into designing products, starting from a simple idea, that I know exactly how to make into a real product since I has all the required skills, so I did not need external help. I used Kickstarter and IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaigns to turn this into a job and sell the first products I designed. Later, thanks to a Startup incubator, I founded my Startup company for designing and sell additive manufacturing devices. After a while, I was in contact with big companies like Leroy Merlin and Ivoclar Vivadent, for which I followed the development of products as an external consultant.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
DM: I am the CEO and R&D responsible for my Startup company that develops and sells additive manufacturing devices (3D Printers). I have started working as a consultant for many companies to develop their projects, or selling them my designs, and in the future I'd like to focus more and more on this job.

FS: What is "design" for you?
DM: Design for me means solving a problem, and do your best to translate this solution you have in mind into an actual product.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
DM: I like product design most, devices or tools for consumers or for the industry.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
DM: My favorite design is the LumiFold TB, an additive manufacturing device (3D Printer) that is designed to be super compact. It has a collapsible design, so the parts that can be 3D printed here can be bigger than the 3D Printer itself. It is based on a scissor-like mechanical design that I patented, and it took years to make it work as I imagined first, and I went to many several iterations. It really was a one-man-band's work, as I had the initial idea, did the mechanical design, CNC cut the parts for the first test prototypes, designed the control PCBs, even tinting the transparent Plexiglas red by hand in a hot bath of water and red dye (to save money)!

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
DM: I was working in a consumer electronics retail company at that time and I noticed that shop assistants were required to loginlogout dozens of times among different workstations, entering username and password with the keyboard each time. It was really time consuming. I noticed also that each workstation had a barcode reader that was always on, on a stand next to the workstation. So I designed a paper bracelet that could be printed, where the username and password where converted to barcode using a web barcode generator. In this way, the shop assistant just had to swipe its hand under the barcode reader, and his/her login data where inserted by the barcode converter as if they were written with the keyboard! It worked like a charm, and really saved a lot of time at no additional cost for the company. Unfortunately, the company was not very receptive for fresh/new ideas or suggestions coming "from the workfield", so it was never implemented.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
DM: Certainly additive manufacturing is one of the technologies I like more, as I both design additive manufacturing devices, and I use them to quickly iterate through different versions of my smaller projects. Sometimes I use a 3D Printer that I have designed to create a part for another project I just started.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
DM: As a creative person, I would say that you are most creative... when you are not supposed to! It is not uncommon to have very good ideas at night time when you are half asleep, or when you are writing the documentation for a project and suddenly you have ideas for 2 or 3 new different projects and you force yourself to stay focused. It may also happen that during the day you struggle to be productive, and than at 5pm you start to feel full of creative energy! And end up working 'till late...

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
DM: First rule is functionality. If it does not work as it is supposed, is not ergonomic, design has to restart from scratch sometimes. I also like the form to be unconventional, as long as it does not break the first rule.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
DM: It can be a nice experience, but there can be also very frustrating moments when you have an idea in mind and you are at first not able to convert it into a working design, or when you still have to figure out how to solve some sub-problems related to a project.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
DM: When everything works exactly as you expected, if feel very happy and relieved, specially after countless hours spent checking for mistakes, or dealing with problematic suppliers!

FS: What makes a design successful?
DM: As a design, when you have the product in your hand and you get the exact feeling that you had in mind when your started the whole design. And this is perceived by others as well. As a commercial product, if it really solves a problem, but this is unfortunately not enough. Marketing power can make a poor design "successful" from an economic point of view, while a good design can stay unnoticed if you do not have enough marketing power.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
DM: Does it really solve a problem? Does it work? Is it easy to use (in case of product design), easy to understand how it is supposed to work? This part is really important for me. How about repairability of the product?

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
DM: As a designer, I think that my contribute to the society is very important. Even if I do not have a lot of resources, every year I work on Open-source projects designed for people with disabilities, that I share on websites like . I have designed a low-cost refreshable "display" for Braille characters, wrote a program that converts text into a 3d printable "tag" with the text as Braille dots, and a bracelet that uses low cost time-of-flight sensors to work as a "digital white cane" when the user is in tight, or crowded places. All of these projects are free to use, modify, and redistribute.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
DM: I see a lot of companies outsourcing design jobs looking to spend as little as possible; while I understand looking for cost reduction, I think it is important that these jobs are not underpaid, I have seen big companies looking for new designs hosting a competition where more than a hundred people (with working experience in the field) basically did "work for free" for 2 days almost without sleeping, and the winner received a gaming console and some free products from the hosting company, and that was all.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
DM: My last exhibition was at Vicenza Oro in Italy earlier this year. I was showcasing the additive manufacturing device I designed for jewelry industry. This year is still uncertain due to the Covid situation, I was supposed to exhibit some of my projects at Trieste at ESOF 2020 and at FormNext in Frankfurt at the end of the year.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
DM: I have some selected sources from the Web that are for me good inspiration for some of my designs. When I visit exhibitions, I also look for innovative solutions. And I always try to figure out what people needs really are, to avoid designing solutions that are "looking for a problem to solve".

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?
DM: My design style is often futuristic and unconventional, but its always mandatory the the design stays feasible and does what it is supposed to do, remaining intuitive to use. I also like to experimenting different styles and mixing techniques. When designing, my approach is often influenced by my "Maker" origins, so I spend some times searching for simpler/alternatives solutions to problems; this can save a lot of money to the client, when it comes to production.

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?
DM: I live in Italy, I'm actually "half-German, half-Italian" (my father is Italian, my mother is from Frankfurt), and sometimes I feel this in my creations since there always is a big component of creativity, but the product has to work precisely, and when coordinating a group of people, or dealing with suppliers, I appreciate a clean and organized approach. Which is not a very Italian approach! As a designer, many of my best collaborations or jobs where with non-Italian companies, which is a thing I hope will change in the future.

FS: How do you work with companies?
DM: Sometimes I propose to them ideas or projects I have developed, at different stages of technology Readiness Level. Sometimes they want to develop a project and I have already a few ideas that fit, so I am paid to get a working prototype out of it to be tested. I also work on other people's ideas, usually as a consultant to help them understand if their idea is feasible or not.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
DM: I would suggest to companies to... listen more what the designer has to say! You are paying him/her after all, so if you ignore the suggestions of the designer about the feasibility of your idea, or the suggestions to change some parts of it, it is just a waste of resources! When working as designer/consultant, I appreciate a lot when there is a good connection with the people in the company that follow the project and me, with good communication and flexibility from both sides.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
DM: I usually start with the idea in my mind, and I already try to visualize it, imagine how it will work, which parts will be the most critical ones. I go through some iterations in my mind. Then I sketch on paper the overall design, after which starts usually the Solidworks design parts, that takes a lot of time. If the project has some electronics components, I design them (in Eagle, usually), and then export the rough board into Solidworks again to check for space constrains. Sometimes documentation is required from my client during the designing process, so I make renders or sketches to discuss the progress of the project. For some of my projects, I also order the parts from different manufacturers, components for the PCB, and assemble them together. Writing the firmware/software is sometimes also part of my job, so I slowly test each function until everything works. Then optimization starts. Sometimes the whole cycle is iterated through different revisions.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
DM: A tooth-shaped toothbrush holder that I 3D Printed. An alarm clock with an integrated lamp that simulates the sunrise when it is time to wake up. A night ambient light with selectable color and intensity. Having the right lighting is very important for me! I cannot stand cold-white Leds lamp when I see them used for domestic use, specially in bedrooms, or cold neons during the day in stores that could easily have used available daylight. I do not have any other special design item at home, at least that I can think of at the moment. But I have a list of nice design items that I may have at some point.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
DM: I usually check my mail in the morning, than open up my daily journal and check at which point I am in my projects (I normally work in parallel on several of them) and what has the priority today, what was left to do from yesterday. I organize the work of the people I am coordinating a group on a project, then work in bursts of 30 minutes to a few hours on different tasks. At the end of the day, I update my journal, where ideas for new projects are noted too. It is a tool that really helps me to stay in focus, specially on long term projects.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
DM: Learn a lot! And it is not a bad idea if you know a bit of everything, even outside your specific area of competence. Are you a product designer? If you have learned photography, you will coordinate better with the photographer when it is time to photograph your product, and already know what can or can't be done, and you can plan the shot before. For example, I also have a digital reflex, some lenses and tools, so I can easily document my progress on a project or even take some photos for online publishing. If you learn programming skills, when you will work with external consultants, you know again what can be done or can't, and roughly how much time and resources it will take. If you have ever built some of your projects/designs, you know how suppliers work, and this helps designing projects ready for production later. Finally, if you know a bit of everything, even outside your specific area, this will help you a lot coordinating a group of people with specific expertise for a big project.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
DM: Positives are that you may be in charge of developing a project for a big client, and you have the responsibility to make it work! Negatives are that you may be in charge of developing a project for a big client, and you have the responsibility to make it work! It depends from your point of view...

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
DM: Testing and check everything, as much as I can during the design phase, to reduce to the minimum any problem when it is time to build the first prototype. Many of my projects involve feature-packed systems in a small size, so I have to check everything, from the space for cable routing, clearance for parts movement and assembling. When I design in SolidWorks, and the assembly is finished, I remove all the mates, and re-assemble the whole thing as if I was manually putting together parts, in the order that will be done manually. It is a good way to check for mistakes that may have gone by unnoticed.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
DM: Constantly learn, possibly from different fields.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
DM: As software tools, I use many different ones: Solidworks and Fusion 360, sometimes Rhino and Keyshot; Eagle for PCB design; Arduino IDE, Delphi, Android Studio, Xcode for firmware/software development. Photoshop is a must too. My most important hardware tool is a CNC machine that I own that allows me to quickly machine plastic and aluminum parts for some of my prototypes. I have a big drawer cabinet with all my small components, where each drawer is numbered, and I wrote an App where I can write the name of the part I am looking for and it shows me where exactly it is, this really saves me time!

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
DM: My approach is usually to break big projects into small tasks; Usually I like to work on several projects in parallel. I keep a daily record of the tasks I want to do (among different projects), what I have actually done, and extra things that popped up during the day that may be worth further development in the future.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
DM: It can take just one day (as when I designed an interactive table with a projector underneath for an exhibition) or several years, like my Molbed project or the LumiFold TB, as they went through several iterations. Many of my projects take some months, but can take longer since I do not only design but most of the times I also handle the mechanical design, electronic design, writing firmware and software, building and testing a prototype already optimized for production, including document the whole process, and writing patents in some cases.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
DM: The most frequently asked question sometimes is "I have this idea and I need it done in one month as I have an exhibition/faire", instead the question should be "I have this idea, but I am not really in the field, can you (designer) help me figure out if it is feasible, and if so, what time/resources does it require to be developed?"

FS: What was your most important job experience?
DM: Developing a 2 years project for multinational company Ivoclar Vivadent, it was based on one of my concepts, and required complex electro-mechanical design and programming, it was mostly made everything by me, and client was happy with the result!

FS: Who are some of your clients?
DM: Among my clients I have Ivoclar Vivadent, Leroy Merlin, H-Farm.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
DM: I like most the part where you start with just an idea, and develop it into a working prototype. My working prototype many times have already 80% of the look of the final product, and are already thought with production in mind, so I do not have to do a lot of iterations. At this point, I like to handle the project to the company for the final touches, documentation, and production, and for me to start a fresh new one.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
DM: I would like to look for more clients, either to help them with their ideas and projects, or to develop new ones for them.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
DM: I work mostly by myself, I would not describe myself as only a designer, as I can handle by myself mechanical design, electronic design, writing firmware and software, building and testing a prototype already optimized for production, document the whole process, or coordinate a team of several people that work on it, including evaluating feasibility, marketing strategies and press releases. For some of my works I coordinated a small group of people for electronic design and assembling of the prototypes.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
DM: As of today, I have a lot of projects at various stages of development! I am working on robotic-based projects, additive manufacturing devices, including food-based ones! On my website,, I will share some of them.

FS: How can people contact you?
DM: I can be contacted by mail at

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

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