From the pressure gauge to the umbrella, everything needs to be drawn. The project is increasingly a matter of exploration and intelligent forays into alternative sectors

Giulio Iacchetti 's latest project is a pressure gauge. The penultimate is a clever and ironic gadget for a brand of toothpaste. And the last Compasso d'Oro, in 2014, was for a manhole. It is therefore not strange that Iacchetti is a great supporter of excursions far from the commonly understood design, namely that of furniture. He is not the only one, of course, but Iacchetti is one of the thundering voices of the Italian project and is now teaching even without wanting to. So is the future of design elsewhere, in worlds not made only of tables and chairs?

“The dreams of many young designers have been shattered against the obstacle represented by a company like Magis. Perhaps not everyone was born to design furniture for such high-level companies” confirms Giulio. And he explains: “As always, my interest is to explore areas that are far from the cliché of our world of reference. An endless prairie of objects that give a lot of satisfaction, because they are virgin sectors”.

According to Iacchetti, the Italian design system lacks that self-criticism that allows us to understand if design makes sense, if it adds intelligence to function and formal qualities to the relationship with objects. “I want to know if an object works. And I like to think about the role of the missionary: the companies I work with often don't need me, they weren't looking for a designer. It is ideal for understanding if design is necessary, if needed”. It is the search for virgin territories and relationships with brands that have an innocent look on the project.

The amazing part is that such companies are open to experimenting. After all, what convinces a manufacturer of objects for mechanics to work with a designer? There is always an interesting story behind it. In the case of Iacchetti it often has to do with his childhood and the family of Cremasca origin: “I posted on a social network a pressure gauge that belonged to my cousin tire dealer and that I found well designed. I didn't know it was produced by Wonder Auto, I discovered it when Matteo Gosi, its owner, contacted me. I always arrive in new companies with a project already in hand, even without wanting to impose it”. Matteo Gosi, however, is working on a digital pressure gauge, a different instrument from that hypothesized by Iacchetti. The project therefore changes connotations, it is built like a protective rubber shell around the technological and delicate heart of the instrument.

How does the added value of the project translate into a company like Wonder Auto? “There is no tire dealer who buys a pressure gauge because he saw it on Domus: this reassures me. Because I know that the value, perhaps even little perceived, is instilled in everyday use”. A work tool that is handled without great delicacy, in a non-aseptic but lively environment like that of a workshop. It is nice to think of a piece by Iacchetti resting under the typical tire dealer calendar, which is not that of Pirelli.

A similar design path is that of studio Pocodisegno, a very young Turin duo. In the spring he launched into the ether, it should be said, an umbrella designed to be repairable. He is still looking for a producer, but the press has caught the message: the U211 umbrella has been published everywhere.

“We went to see Enrico Baleri and he systematically destroyed all our projects. But he gave us a great awareness in return: design responds to the demands of reality and people, not our ego” Fabrizio Gagliano explains. A curious immersion in the artisan manufacture of umbrellas from which a reflection on the repairability of an object considered almost universally disposable is born. “It is clear that design still has a lot to say in areas not frequented by designers. It is thrilling”. And that's good news too, for several reasons.

The first is economic: the relationship between brand and designer works very well when companies sell a lot. Otherwise difficult to make ends meet as a designer. And not all of us are born Konstantin Grcic, Antonio Citterio or Odoardo Fioravanti. “I came to the conclusion that perhaps extraordinary skills are needed to work with the great Italian design brands. Maybe I'll never be able to work for Cassina, or for Magis”.

If you can't work with design companies, Giulio Iacchetti reflects, you are simply not up to par. “I tried to reason with Kartell, but years later about those projects and I find them weak. We know very well that there are noble companies that are difficult to enter, which apply a justly severe selection. And I think I said what I could in the area of furniture. Enough, my life is full of other things, other types of products and worlds to explore”. 


At the top and above, the Holder designed by Giulio Iacchetti for Marvis, an overcap to be mounted on the cap of the toothpaste that becomes a colorful and playful object capable of widening the support base of the tube, so as to make it self-standing.