Emotional belonging is the project phase of design.” Our conversation with Luca Trazzi, architect and industrial designer, over 20 years on the international design scene (in Milan and his studio in Shanghai), begins with these words.

To talk about his latest works: a coffee machine for illycaffé and a collection of small appliances for Viceversa.

The common denominator? A question of scale: mini. Trazzi explains: “I was born in Verona and I took a degree in architecture in Venice. From architecture I have learned the importance of the idea and the project, the basis of any creation. My great mentor was Aldo Rossi, with whom I worked for 15 years. He taught me precisely this: to design, first of all. From the idea to the implementation. I learned how to transfer the vision of the project on a large scale to objects. It is the first step, like the beginning of a story for a writer, the first vision… then comes the plot, with digressions, development, the ending. In the project phase there is precisely the plot of our life: it is here that we mix memories, roots, emotions…”

When asked what was the memory that ‘ignited’ the spark for the new X1 coffee machine designed for illy, he replies: “The dashboard of my mother’s Fiat 500, which I drove to go to the station, where I would take the local train to Venice. Just think, my family still uses that car today, proudly driving around with its antique car plates. A perfect example of good design and effective, lasting functional quality.

The design of the X1 (the restyling has been presented for the FuoriSalone) is in fact a reminder of certain details of that iconic dashboard, with the ‘thermometer’ positioned at the center on the upper body of the machine, and the chromium-plated metal switches that extend at the sides. “I opted for a design that goes against fashion, that will not age, but will be familiar, connected to our everyday life,” Trazzi says.

Moreover: “The X1 also sets out to trace back to gestures of bygone days: the choice of levers and knobs, of lights associated with the pressure gauge, instead of digital controls, has the aim of making the object interact with people.”

So a ban on technology? “No,” Trazzi replies, “but design can again be successful only if we learn how to approach technology in a new way, leaving innovation up to its progress and instead bringing a range of objects that belong to us in emotional terms closer to everyone. Precisely like the X1: a sober, elegant product that clearly expresses its function. The rounded, non-aggressive forms make it familiar, part of the home, because we immediately identify it with its use, which brings moments of relaxation and pleasure,” the designer emphasizes. “It is 20 years old, but it doesn’t look it…”

The same design philosophy – i.e. to create objects that can accompany people in everyday life, that are good looking and easy to use – also lies behind the line of small appliances the designer has recently created for Viceversa. Tix, the new collection, includes a toaster, blenders, scales, citrus squeezers, a mixer, teakettles, choppers.

“They are all objects that needn’t be hidden away,” Trazzi says, “because they have personality, but they are also reassuring, never invasive. And as soon as you look at them you immediately understand what they are for and how they work.”

In short, design that brings out the pleasure of gestures in the user. But without sacrificing functional quality, the efficiency of formal and technological solutions, also in terms of energy. Trazzi: “The oblong form of the Tix toaster, for example, is attractive and appealing, but it also comes from the need to increase the radiant surface, which means improving heat distribution and saving energy.

Text by Laura Ragazzola