"Do not copy others, but bring out your personality and, above all, be patient and persevering": these are the precious tips that Elena Salmistraro gives to young students during the presentation of the scholarships dedicated to freshers enrolling in the three-year courses at Istituto Marangoni Milano • The School of Design.
From October, the Milanese designer will support the first year students of the three-year courses in Interior Design, Product Design and Visual Design in the role of mentor.
And it is precisely to celebrate this important collaboration that Istituto Marangoni Milano has presented a series of scholarships for young talents, who can be selected to obtain a deduction of up to 5,000 euros from the enrollment fee for the first year.
At the end of the course, the most talented students will receive a further incentive: scholarships to face the second and third year of the degree course.
Read how to access scholarships: here
Mentorships and scholarships for undergraduates: can you tell us about your collaboration with the School of Design of Istituto Marangoni?
Elena Salmistraro: “The collaboration involves a mentorship project dedicated to bacherlors: I will follow the students during the first year of Interior Design, Product Design and Visual Design, supporting them along their path. This program is accompanied by the scholarships initiative, open to all young talents: to access them, prospective students must present a moodboard (see all the information here), inspired by my work and approach.
How will you evaluate the students' work?
Elena Salmistraro: “In evaluating the students' projects I will look for their identity: I am for authorial design; therefore, I want the kids to express themselves freely, to bring out what's inside. I don't care if they copy my work, I want to see something unique, their character, they have to talk about themselves".
In your role as mentor, how will you support students?
Elena Salmistraro: “I will follow the students throughout the first year, from October to June. I will present a brief and invite the students to start their work with a research part. I want them to talk about themselves, starting from their roots, from their experience, from their passions, in short, from their universe. After this first phase of research, I will invite them to draw, to make sketches, then they will have to develop the projects with renderings and models, also working by hand. It might seem like a difficult path, especially for first year students, but together with the teachers we will follow the students in everything, we will give them all the tools to draw, render, create models manually, conceive and interpret a project. It will be a great adventure."
It is the fifth year that you have been collaborating with Istituto Marangoni, how did this adventure start?
Elena Salmistraro: “Initially they contacted me to mentor the masters in Product Design, Surface Design and Interior Design. This year, for the first time I'm interacting with the very young first-year boys, I'm very enthusiastic, it's a great responsibility for me".
Why did Istituto Marangoni choose you as a model and guide for young aspiring designers?
Elena Salmistraro: "I represent a bit of a transversal figure in the world of design, I move with ease between different disciplines, from fashion to furniture, also thanks to my hybrid background. By choosing me, Istituto Marangoni wants to explain to the kids that the designer of the future, but also of the present, must be capable of working in many fields. In the past, there was the designer who dealt only with interiors, the planner who followed the more technical issues, who only designed the product. Today, however, the designer must be competent in everything, he must know how to design, but also know how to promote and communicate; I wanted to draw not to talk, actually I actually talk more than I draw. Furthermore, previously movements and trends were followed, Memphis, rationalism, minimalism, now design has a thousand facets, there is a lot of freedom and space for everyone; therefore, it is essential to identify and be able to communicate one's own style”.
In the light of your experience, what advice would you give to young designers?
“The most important is: believe it and insist. Possibly also reviewing the path taken. I did it when, after a year in the Fashion Design course, I realized that fashion wasn't for me and I turned to Industrial Design.
For years I worked on my self-productions, putting together all the knowledge I had: I knew how to sew and I made hand-sewn puppets with felt scraps. And I developed techniques that interested me: I enrolled in a ceramics course and I learned how to build the plaster molds by myself to produce my works.
At the beginning it was difficult, especially from an economic point of view: I graduated in 2008, in 2010 I was chosen by Giulio Cappellini, but the first earnings only arrived in 2017.
Today I lead a study of six people. You need to have patience, perseverance, the world of design is a small world where everyone knows each other, you must always work with quality, persevere and, sooner or later, if you have talent, results are coming”.
Why should someone study design at Istituto Marangoni?
Elena Salmistraro: “First of all because it always has an eye towards the future: when we started talking about the metaverse, Artificial Intelligence, robotics, Istituto Marangoni didn't wait until these issues became mainstream and he immediately tackled them with dedicated workshops, seminars and courses.
The second reason to study at Istituto Marangoni Milano is that it teaches students to interface with companies, putting them in contact with the most important brands, involving professional designers as mentors in often visionary and futuristic projects.
The possibility of showing one's work, then, in events such as the Fuorisalone, is a further advantage that Istituto Marangoni students have access to.
In general, I would say the exploratory, curious and industry-focused orientation of the school is a huge advantage for students who will then find themselves working in a constantly evolving sector".