Matteo Bazzicalupo and Raffaella Mangiarotti, alias Deepdesign, received the Design Europa Awards for the Full Automatic Espresso coffee machine designed for SMEG

How do you win a design award? Is there a winning strategy for making good design? The Deepdesign duo responds, having just received the Euipo award strong>, the European Design Patent Office. A design award assigned after the evaluation of 700 applications according to parameters of invention, ergonomics, functional simplicity, sustainability. The ingredients of good contemporary design.

Designing well and winning a design award: easier said than done?

Deepdesign: “The Full Automatic Espresso by SMEG is a product conceived on a very widespread typological and technological platform. Invention, ingenuity, our work as designers, come into play in cases like this on other factors.

Although in the past we have also worked a lot on functional innovations (the Flexica folding electric broom by Imetec is theirs, ed), in this case we started from our design DNA to bring more attention to the sensorial content of the object, to humanize a machine capable of expressing, as often happens, better performances than those of people".

Is humanizing the machine with design the focus of SMEG's ten-year work?

Deepdesign: "We have worked a lot in the field of household appliances and we have always liked to tackle projects with the idea of adding concepts of help and service to humans. In the past there are very famous examples of design in the sector, from Dieter Rams onwards, but our work focuses more on 'soft' values and not on the aesthetic expression of performance power".

What is the winning aspect of this design attitude?

Deepdesign: “In the case of the Design Europa Awards we believe that the intrinsic sustainability of the SMEG coffee machine made the difference, together with the volume of business generated by the product, another important parameter of the award.

But these are probably direct consequences of initial design choices.

It is an object that does not use pods, having an integrated coffee grinder, to avoid numerous production and disposal steps that characterize pods. A choice that has an impact on the sensorial experience: the scent of freshly ground coffee spreads throughout the house, it is reassuring, human.

We have worked a lot, and are still doing so, on noise control, to prevent the machine from being intrusive with mechanical noise in the early morning. There is profound attention to gentle interaction with a technological tool, to the possibility of empathy between man and machine".

Let's talk about the formal aspect: less streamlined than other SMEG products but, once again, a soft object...

Deepdesign: “When we started working on what was the new production line of small household appliances for SMEG ten years ago, we were unaware that many internationally renowned designers had passed through the company before us, with whom, however, the brand had not found a square.

Furthermore, without knowing it, we found ourselves at the heart of a generational transition, with all the difficulties involved.

There was mistrust about the project, fear about the investment it required and about the economic returns. We were salmon swimming against the current, in short."

How did you overcome the mistrust of the brand?

Deepdesign: “We focused on the simplification of the controls, on the possibility of choosing the level of detail of the functional performances, starting from the most intuitive one.

We reduced the control buttons to a minimum and gave space to a formal choice that was already in the company's DNA: the fifties rounded shapes which sanctioned the success of the 50's Style refrigerator, without forgetting the lessons of formal essentiality of the design masters of the sector.

It was an unexpected success and the company doubled its turnover with a type of product it wasn't sure it wanted to invest in."

How important is the company in good design?

Deepdesign: “The cultural attitude of the company is fundamental. The Bertazzoni family, who founded SMEG, is educated in beauty, living the artistic and aesthetic dimension of reality on a daily basis.

It's lucky. Because it allows us to linger on details, always sensible, which perhaps increase production costs. But they are always well received choices, because it is more important to do something beautiful and sensible from a human point of view than to save money.

We therefore feel very responsible for our formal choices, we do not stop working until we are convinced that we have achieved the best possible result. A design award is confirmation."

Why is streamline always so popular?

Deepdesign: “The 1950s streamline takes us back to an era in which we dreamed a lot, with great confidence. Memory, contextualized in an intelligent frame, is reassuring, it softens the experience of using machines designed for humans.

We return to the concept of empathy, of attention to the senses and the body, of gentle forms that reassure.

On the other hand, we set ourselves an ambitious goal for the lifespan of the instruments we design. We expect them to be as popular in twenty years as they are now and being rooted in memory has proven to be an effective solution, which goes beyond fashion.

We are also very diffident about the use of color, we always offer white objects. Obviously the strategic choice of the brand comes into play here, which is also oriented according to the market of the moment".

How does it happen for the Dolce&Gabbana capsule collection?

Deepdesign: "Even in that case our work was to retrace and respect what existed. We looked for a technical solution for the application of the decoration that would cost less than the artisanal one and at the same time restore the three-dimensionality typical of the Sicilian cart decoration. We put ourselves at the service of the company and its choices. The result convinced us."