How to find the balance between creative design​ and the functionality of a product

Interview with Umberto Caretta, concept & industrial product designer
Founder of KAREZZA/Umberto Caretta & Partners

Umberto spent the past two decades focusing on an integrated approach which encompasses product and interior design. Hubbe.rs asked him about the meaning of 'good design' and how to achieve a balance between functionality and design.

1. What is the secret of a good design?

A good design Umberto says should be democratic; it must address the needs of the environment and accessibility as well. It also has to create the right balance between beauty and function.

2. What are the things you notice first when you are looking at a product?

The first things that catch my attention are the shapes as well as the details that I perceive beyond the visuals. I pay attention to my feelings and what perceptions my brain sets into motion when I see something. I fully engage these sensations to fuel my creativity and embrace the design and the message through the look of the product.

3. Are there design trends that people should follow?

Trends have statistical value, while innovation usually collides with these trends. Often, we have to choose between following our intuition or align with a design direction. I have always sought the compromise that doesn't create clutter in my line. Hence I suggest to Hubbe.rs creators the same. The design is essential, but one needs to look beyond the first impression and feasibility as well.

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4. How to find a balance between design and functionality?

I am a dreamer. When you imagine an object or a shape, you might not consider functionality in the same picture. I aim to preserve my attention and focus on what the client (or myself) envisioned. We must insist on finding the right balance without losing sight of the design line. Design enhances the human experience while functionality makes life more comfortable and straightforward.I aim to present the two together.

5. What do you suggest to our Hubbe.rs inventors when they are considering design-related decisions?

In the creative process be aware of the areas where there is a potential for errors or uncertainties. I recommend not to lose sight of the original plan and idea while also consider practicality and functionality. Have some flexibility to accept areas where the design and the functionality cannot meet.
On your creative path, one must always be a critic of his or her work and never assume the result. You can still do better.

6. What are the main areas to consider before deciding on the look of product?

In my opinion, freedom is the only style. I don't talk about the beauty of a product, but rather about "good products" that satisfy not only the standards of beauty but also those of utility and multi-functionality.

A product must have a personality to be recognized amongst the competitors already out there. Then you have to ask yourself one question: Are the characteristics of this product what we are looking for? We must have the courage to follow our heart and intuition.

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7. What are the main challenges of product design?

In recent years design has made great strides by outlining a series of eco-friendly products dedicated to mobility and sharing. Our primary challenge is to create products that return to man the time to enjoy life without forgetting the preservation of our planet. When you think of a new idea to replace an existing product, we must break out of the mold. I like the phrase from Steve Jobs: "Let's invent the future instead of worrying about what happened yesterday."

8. What happens when a customer comes to you with a design idea that looks beautiful but you know it won't work or the other way around: it is a practical idea that won't look good. What do you suggest to your customers?

Usually, my customers come to me because they believe in me, and in my ideas. When I share an idea, they must be ready to accept criticism and possible changes.

However, this should not be a place for constant judgment instead of a cooperative and supportive work environment. I advise and guide my customers on design or functionality, and this process is there to obtain a final product that is a competitive winner on the market.

Umberto is expert in Concept design/Industrial design. Software: Cinema 4d, Modo, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Final Cut Pro X.

Hubbers Team

Hubbers Team

Shanghai