Interview with Gabriele Tempesta
Design Consultant & Industrial Designer
We face an unstoppable sea of new products appearing on the markets of the whole world every day. Some of them are smart, well-thought-out, and help going towards healthier and better living, but a huge part of these products are only created to add up to the already existing sheer load of junk-consumers-oriented commodities present on our planet. In our interview, Gabriele talks about his experience in sustainable design and how designers and creators can impact (positively) the world.
Gabriele Tempesta studied industrial design in Milano. It was his natural choice; however, during his degree, he realized that behind the shiny art, there is a much of a sinister world exploiting people and products – to keep prices low and the products cheap. At this point, he came to the realization that this was not the path he wanted to pursue. His interest was rather laid into finding opportunities for designing more responsible, productive, useful and helpful projects.
He decided to take a master’s degree in the Netherlands in industrial design, intelligent products, and societal change. He realized that through design, he was able to positively affect consumer behavior. "There is a power of this skill in making healthy and useful design choices in a significant way." - he said.
Gabriele felt that his studies enriched him with a new perspective through learning about the cultural aspects of design too and emphasized the importance of identifying which skills fit a person as a designer. We talked to Gabriele about how he creates useful products adapted to specific markets and situations.
1. Your career started in China, how did you end up going there and why?
I travelled to China in 2010 and noticed that the market was vibrant, exciting, and there were a lot of inspiring things happening. I felt this country was a great place to start my career with ample opportunities. I began working at a design studio in 2014 with a team dedicated to city innovation. The current project back then was working on city furniture and public design. I wanted to make a difference and create something meaningful and useful. I wasn’t interested in commercial design.
I worked as an industrial designer on several projects. The person in charge of the design studio left in 2016; therefore, I decided to take leverage of my studies, I stepped in to take charge and continued the projects. I was ready to be a leader and had various new ideas for exciting projects.
2. What difficulties did you face as a manager and as a designer?
Language barrier was undoubtedly one of them. I did not speak good Chinese, but with patience, persistence, and my professional experience, I was able to handle the situation through trials and errors. I became the head of the department, and I worked there until 2018. We had many great projects, my favourite being the redesign of a rubbish house for a design festival. This project wasn’t about money, but I felt it was meaningful for making a change. We’ve certainly created the best looking and best working rubbish house on the market. I also worked on a few social projects for NGOs in China, such as redesigning hand-washing stations for children in the Gansu province. This project was about enabling people to wash their hands, understanding their problems, why the water was not accessible, and what cultural barriers were present. Through understanding the human aspects and circumstances first, and then finding solutions to all of them helped us to create a design that worked. “Taking an initiative always pays off.”
Now I am working for an innovation lab in shanghai. It is a holistic company working with water systems, road infrastructures, architecture, landscape, and urban planning. However, before I started my venture with them, they did not have an understanding of the human aspect of design. That is where I could add a substantial value to creation. They understand city design from the macro level, but not at an intimate human level. They created a team to support human-centered design as to why they reached out to me to assist them in creating an innovation lab in Shanghai. I took this opportunity and started working from the start-up stage of the project.
An exciting insight Gabriele gives us about product design is that it is always vital to work in small cycles and try all things before going in to full, large-scale production. He further explains that 99% of what is done in product development can be prototyped for a small amount of money first. Without having to spend big budgets and create potential waste, it is critical to understand what really works.
3. What would you recommend to the Hubbers community when it comes to making educated design choices?
"I recommend to all designers and creators to find the deeper meaning of why we are doing things: especially when you are in the creative /design industry. You are releasing a creation into the world. This creation will have a ripple effect – you have ecosystems using energy, and your product will have an environmental impact,as well as ripples across the social sphere. The product will create new habits, or disrupt existing ones. Change our social behavior – all of the things we do have more profound implications, and as a designer, you have the responsibility to improve circumstances through your design."
"I suggest thinking deeply about what you really want to put out in the world. When you create something, consider why and how it affects the rest of us in the world."
"Talking from a product design perspective, it is always essential to work in small cycles, and really try how things work and how they are used. 99% of what you do can be prototyped for a low budget to ensure that it will work as expected. We shouldn’t be afraid of change, but change needs to lead to a positive, improved direction."
** Gabriele is an expert in industrial design, product development, project management, management of change, multicultural relations, and design thinking.**